My therapist talks a lot about the need for feedback in relationships and being able to receive criticism without going into shame. We spent several sessions on ‘opening myself up to feedback’.
An abusive childhood, and ongoing contact with abusers, left me sensitive to negative feedback. Even benign comments can sound like rejection to me. Other times I perceive feedback about my personality or life choices as insults, even if the other person was not intending to be insulting or mean.
Being able to handle criticism with healthy new tools, instead of old tools of defensiveness, is a major component of abuse recovery.
I am trying to stop myself from being too hard on myself, after I make a fresh mistake. My therapist pointed out that sometimes people do that in order to avoid anyone else being too hard on them.
Yup. That’d be me.
The past year I have been training someone at our store to do my job. I want to be able to keep a slower pace, travel more, and finish a novel (eventually). To meet those goals, I needed to rework the structure at our small business.
Hence I became a trainer, a teacher. And I found that I don’t like teaching people how to do tedious tasks I could do myself in far less time; as I have little patience. Yet, I think I am pretty good at explaining things to other people, even though it causes my neck to get tight. I’ve also learned more about myself than I knew prior. About human nature. And about God’s grace in my life. I see how blessed I have been in the work environment God gave to me. Because training someone else and imparting knowledge unto another can have the affect of the teacher learning more than the student.
For instance, I keep telling the young man who is taking over (most of) my daily chores, that he needs to expect mistakes rather than vigorously trying to avoid them. The key is to learn how to correct his own mistakes as well as the mistakes everyone else using the computer system is bound to make.
Which is a real life application that I’ve used, in the workplace, for years. Yet I never appreciated how much it applies to real life relationships. Particularly the things I am learning in therapy: about calmly correcting and fully owning my mistakes without falling into a relapse of old toxic behaviors.
The proverb: Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes has never meant as much as it does when I am training someone at work to expect mistakes, and saying, over and over, “Thirty percent of your job here is going to be correcting your own mistakes.”
Once he started to believe what I kept asserting (that perfectionism is impossible in bookkeeping–so I want you to spend less time trying to avoid mistakes and more time learning how to look for mistakes and fix them), he relaxed a lot. He is no longer beating himself up for keying in the wrong number or making a deposit to the cash ledger instead of the checking ledger.
How humbling to observe that my professional life, wherein I have spent a lifetime of placing numbers into right (and often wrong) ledger accounts, has already taught me the same lessons I am now applying to life and relationships.