Dealing with criticism.


Reference photo for future painting. © Sarah Marie Lacy, 2009

Reference photo for future painting. © Sarah Marie Lacy, 2009

I’ll be honest – I’m still finding putting myself out there to be surprisingly hard. I’ve lost my total adoration for Twitter. I don’t want to write on here. Quite frankly, I still want to hide under my bed.

This whole being seen thing. Ughh. And this whole potentially being misunderstood and people throwing shoes and it’s all enough to make a somewhat sensitive girl never want to be seen again.

So this morning I sat down with myself to figure out exactly what was freaking me out so much. Up until now, I’d  been focusing a lot on other people, and how I don’t know when a troll is going to pop out of nowhere and say nasty things, or upset me or whatever. But when I really explored my fears, what was upsetting me the most caught me by surprise.

I didn’t want to blog or go on Twitter because I didn’t trust myself to handle things should they go awry. I didn’t trust that I could be criticized or have contact with a troll and be able to deal with it. Which is a totally legitimate fear because I don’t have a system for dealing with it. There is no page in the Book Of Me that says “When you come into contact with a troll, follow steps 1-5, rinse and repeat.”

And this is a page that should definitely be there because I’m a sensitive person*.  I’ve got enough stuck and fears and buttons for at least 3 people, so I should probably have a plan for dealing with those things when they get triggered.

*I feel like there’s a real stigma attached to being a sensitive person. There’s this whole societal attitude of just “sucking it up” and “being a big girl”. It’s crap. We’re all still 5 years old. We all still get our feelings hurt. We just don’t like to admit it.

On the bright side, now that I’ve become aware of this missing page in my book, I get to add it in. So! Allow me to introduce you to…

Dealing With Trolls, Criticism & Other Forms of Uncomfortable Miscommunication

Step 1: Immediately after the event that makes me uncomfortable, go find a safe place. It can be my bed, my couch, my studio, but it is definitely not the computer or wherever this situation took place. I need to disconnect from the situation and connect with myself instead.

Step 2: Listen to Havi Brook’s “Emergency Calming Techniques“. Repeat if necessary.

Step 3: Make a pot of tea in my elephant teapot. (This never fails to make me smile.)

Step 4: NVC some sentences around how I’m feeling and what I need. (NVC = Non Violent Communication, by Marshall Rosenburg, the greatest book for communicating ever – both communicating with others and communicating with yourself. Buy it.)

Step 5: Cry if I need to. If I can give myself what I need – comfort, reassurance, support, safety – give it to myself. If I can’t give it to myself yet, figure out another way to get it, i.e. asking my boyfriend for a hug, calling a friend.

Step 6: Do something healing like doodle, or draw, or paint while listening to Fabeku Fatunmise’s “Remembering Through Resonance” (it’s really great energy clearing music). Draw what I feel. Take as much alone time as I need until that sensitive part of me feels able to face the world again. If it was really upsetting and all of my buttons got pushed and I’m having a meltdown, I get the day off. Forcing myself to work while feeling like crap always makes the crap drag on and on and on. If I deal with it straight away, I only lose a day’s work, instead of working at half capacity for a week because I still haven’t dealt with all the buttons that got pushed.

Step 7: When I feel centered again, when I’ve dealt with my stuff and given myself what I need, then I can go back out into the word. But until I’m ready, I don’t have to go. And part of moving through these feelings faster is giving myself permission to fall apart, to have a bad day, to cry, and to admit that yeah, I’m sensitive, and some things hurt my feelings, but that it’s okay. Because I’ve got my stuff and you’ve got your stuff and we’re all working on our stuff. One day at a time.

Notes on the comments

I’d love to hear how you deal with trolls, criticism and other uncomfortable forms of miscommunication. What comforts you? What helps you let it go?

We’ve all got our stuff, our hang ups and buttons, triggers and fears. And I’m working on mine and you’re working on yours. So if we could make this a place where we withold our judgments and shoulds, and let each other just be where we are in this, I’d really appreciate it.