You're a good, well-meaning person. But when someone...

COPING

March 02, 1993|By Barbara Turk, M.S.

You're a good, well-meaning person. But when someone disapproves of you, it feels like they are the authority. So then you crumble into a little self-recriminating heap, repeating to yourself how terrible you are.

You know you shouldn't let others' judgments do that to you. But how do you stop buying in to their opinions?

You stop it by figuring out how you got that way in the first place, then by making changes in your thinking:

* First, take a look at your attitude toward authority. For instance, who has the right to be an authority, are you comfortable with authority, where did you learn things like that? Chances are childhood messages on the subject are pushing your buttons and causing you to view others as powerful adults and yourself, when criticized, as the wayward child. To turn your thinking around,

* Refuse to tell yourself how terrible you are when you're criticized. Instead, substitute empowering thoughts such as: I am no longer a child, I have the right to view things my way, others' opinions are not necessarily accurate, I don't have to be perfect to be a good person.

While it's important not to be self-righteous, keep reminding yourself that if you accept others' criticisms as gospel, you are giving them permission to be in charge of your life. And that's something only you should do, isn't it?

Barbara Turk is a psychotherapist in private practice.

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