Yay for Mistakes! Part 11 | Dealing With Critical Words From Mistakes


How should we respond to someone who is pointing out our mistakes in a critical manner? 

You know the feeling. You are trying to do your best and someone starts shooting words that send you for a loop. Words that make you want to hide in the back of the coat closet. Words that cause you to start doubting yourself and think something is wrong with you. Words that snatch your smile, send your emotions for a look, and erase your worth away in an instant. Words that bruise you, but leave no outward mark.

These words don’t have to be swearing words. Or I hate you words.

They hurt and bruise because at the heart of the words is criticism. A superiority. A putting you down and pointing out what is wrong about you, but not in a loving or constructive way. These words pin you down like a specimen and provide no grace or room to wiggle free.

They are often casual comments thrown out to bait you. To communicate that you are a failure. Your job was not good enough. You have room for improvement. You made a big honking mistake and by gum they are going to be the one to point it out to you in giant living color.

Sometimes they are deliberate, other times not. They can be masked in humor. They can come from mates, children, colleagues, parents, ex’s, bosses, instructors, neighbors. Often, they come from someone who knows you pretty well. Sometimes it becomes a pattern and it happens over and over.

Your boss criticizing your punctuation mistakes in emails.

You mother in law criticizing your housekeeping.

A colleague asking why you always have to be a party pooper.

An acquaintance criticizing your new dress.

A relative questioning your decisions, big and little.

The neighbor criticizing your schooling choice.

A friend pointing out your proclivity to be late.

The event coordinator reminding that you brought a pie and not a salad, like you signed up for.

Now last time I checked, being a party pooper, bringing pie instead of salad, or being late (along with most of the things they are likely to mention) are not sins,  punishable by city ordinances, or even things for which you can get arrested and residing behind bars.

Most of the time you haven’t done anything terribly wrong, but their words make you feel small, in the wrong, and like you have committed some horrible thing because they are pointing out what they consider your flaws, your mistakes, and your habits that they dislike. You hear their critical aha-I-caught-you-words and suddenly bells are clanging in your head and your emotions are shooting out of the starting gate.

The power of words.

 

So why do their words send emotions skyrocketing and worth crashing?

Often, their words are hitting upon a sore spot. If our mother criticized our choice of clothes growing up, we will probably react differently to criticism of our clothes then someone whose clothing choices were validated. Words can instantly evoke unpleasant (and pleasant) memories and arouse the emotions that memory carries. Words can have different effects on different people. The same words crush one person, while another person is able to brush them off and laugh at their absurdity.

Our upbringing can affect the way we hear and interpret the words. If we were raised with the expectation of striving for perfection, criticism and a pointing out of our mistakes will often be harder for us than for someone who was raised with the standard of grace and encouragement. If we were criticized for our flaws and mistakes when children, we often spend the rest of our life trying to avoid making mistakes and showing our flaws to others.

Keep track. Are your most sensitive spots, when it comes to criticism and words hurting you, areas you were not allowed to falter or be human in at some point in your life? Were grace and understanding lacking from those same areas?

Knowing which areas critical words have power over you, is helpful in not letting them not  blindside and control you.

How we let critical words harm us.

 

When we base our day, our worth, or our self-esteem on what we do and don’t do, or our performance, then critical words will harm us. We will cower and think the person is pointing a finger at us in condemnation. Or we may rise up in anger and attack them.

Building our worth on what others think and say to us often causes us to wander down the road of self-doubt when we hear critical words. Self-doubt can be a lonely road. We wonder how someone can love us when we are failing. Not perfect enough or good enough. This may lead us to question whether we are lovable. And why would someone love us? Which can lead to how could God love me?

Rising up in anger will isolate us from the person and often convince them of nothing more than their current opinion.

Both responses leave us feeling worse than before.

To stop this cycle, we need to have a plan of action.

Base your worth on what is true.

 

During his temptation, Jesus fought Satan with scripture. Scripture is truth. It is power.

Remind yourself of God’s truth when you feel yourself sliding down into despair from the words of another. When you feel your temperature rise and you want to toss the person three blocks to the north.

Say these words to yourself until you can own and believe them:

God loves me mistakes, flaws, sins and all. Just the way I am. (You love your child, pet, mate, parent, or friend the way they are. You don’t say, I will love you when you quit doing X and Y. God is the same, only to some mega exponent power.)

He calls me beloved; valuable.

Jesus was perfect so I don’t need to be perfect. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. He created me as a flawed human, and expects me to make mistakes and mess up.

My worth is not tied into my mistakes, flaws, or sins, or what I do or don’t do.

God will never leave me, forsake me, or quit loving me, no matter what I do.

My joy comes from God, and is not based upon what others think or say about me.

My actions do not define me or my worth.

Tell yourself the truth. Remind yourself of the exact things that critical words often send scurrying from our minds. The truth.

Remember: What matters most is not that you made a mistake, but how you respond after your mistake.

Some other things to remember.

 

Critical words and pointing out of flaws happens. We do it. Others do it. It even happens to perfect people. Think about all the times people were critical with Jesus. And he was perfect! So, don’t be surprised when they happen to you.

Sometimes we base our day (and our worth) on how things are going. Good day equals happiness. Day with conflict equals a bad day and we feel down.

Instead of striving to have a good day, or a conflict free day, a perfect day or a strife free day, realize that conflict is part of life. Strive to have a day where you remember your true identity and that it is not tied up into the day’s events or what you accomplish or don’t do. Strive to have a day where you learn, grow, and give others and yourself grace.

We can’t stop criticism coming our way, but we can change our response. We can also quit taking the criticism so personally and owning it, especially when it is untrue. Most criticism has a lot of untruth in it. So toss the untruth into the garbage can and leave it there.

Criticism can be uncomfortable and hard to hear, but it is easier when we remember whose we are and that our worth is not tied to the expectations or words of another.

And when you find yourself doubting your worth, remind yourself of eternal truths, you precious, beloved, and valuable human. Yes, that’s you!

Join the Discussion: How do you handle the criticism of others?

Need more encouragement? Michelle DeRusha, in her post “How to Choose Humility over Humiliation,” talks about how she received some critical words.


Articles is this series:

Yay for Mistakes! Part 1 | What Do You Do?
Yay for Mistakes! Part 2 | How to Respond
Yay for Mistakes! Part 3 | Responding to Our Children’s Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 4 | How to Let Our Children Make Mistakes and Fail
Yay for Mistakes! Part 5 | Quieting a Myth of Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 6 | Mistaking Our Worth
Yay for Mistakes! Part 7 | Mistaking Paradise
Yay for Mistakes! Part 8 | Some Mistakes Are Really Blessings in Disguise
Yay for Mistakes! Part 9 | Dealing with Really Big Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 10 | Letting Go to Make Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 11 | Dealing With Critical Words From Mistakes

Accompanying this series, Life as it Comes, a story podcast, takes a humorous look at making mistakes in episode 31, “Have You Pulled a Theresa?” and Episode 33, True Green and Garage Chaos .

Thanks for stopping by.

Keep remembering what’s important,

Theresa


Linking up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope).  A Wise Woman Builds her Home, Pat and Candy, Messy Marriage, Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth), Missional Women, Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement) and Lili Dunbar (#FaithOnFire).

Yay for Mistakes! Part 10 | Letting Go to Make Mistakes

We have one at home, the other launched in the world.

One is asking what is for dinner. One is asking what to make for dinner.

One is shopping for Legos. One is grocery shopping.

One is learning basketball skills. The other is learning to manage a home.

One is dependent, one is married.

One is in middle school and learning a work ethic. The other has completed graduate school and worked as a reference librarian.

One is an uncle, the other a new momma.

One is stepping into teen-hood, chewing loud, experimenting with how fast he can take a shower and brush his teeth, learning to push his body in sports, and evaluating different sides of an argument to persuade his parents to let him do something. The other is navigated potty training, and patiently deals with the demands of a toddler while organizing her day.

Boy and Girl. 15 years apart.

I look at our daughter, now a mother herself, and it is a little strange. Not long ago she was snuggling in my arms, asking me why roads had guard rails, and sitting legs swinging in the grocery cart while chatting to the checker. Now she is starting the process again with her daughter.

Parenting involves growing and teaching your child to independence and freedom -–a letting them go and start the cycle again with their own families and lives and choices. A process by which they learn, grow, and expand.

They also make mistakes.

Just like we did in our early years of independence. Just like we still do.

But as they mature and grow wings, there is this stepping back. Not giving advice unless asked. This treating them more as an adult and colleague. This shift begins to take place as they near adulthood. And it continues and continues.

You are always their parent, their cheerleader, their prayer warrior, their shelter when needed, but now you no longer rush to their side and be the first medic at the site. You let their mate and others arrive first. You come immediately when summoned, but you let them choose their own way, their own direction. There is no insisting they follow your path, or even walk behind you. They now follow their own path.

My husband and I are walking in the back yard, checking on plants, surveying our domain. A ritual he started years ago.

“I wouldn’t have done it that way,” my husband says, referring to our daughter and son-in-law.

I notice the Russian Sage is still in bloom even as the leaves are falling.

He grabs my hand. “But we need to let them make their own mistakes.”

I nod. “That we do. And it is not our job to tell them we think they are making a mistake.”

“We made mistakes when we were first married,” he chuckles.

“Still not immune to making some.”

We both laugh. Hoping our mistakes are fewer and further apart now that we are a bit wiser. But this may be just wishful thinking.

My daughter and son-in-law are smart, well grounded, and wiser in some ways than we were when we got married. And yet they will make small and maybe even large mistakes. It is all part of life, living, learning, and aging.

We make mistakes. They make mistakes, and their children will make mistakes.

I am sure our parents had a similar conversation about us. And their parents about them.

It is not our job to tell them, that according to our calculations, they may be making a mistake. Hopefully we as parents step back and let our adult children direct their own lives.

It is what God does with us. He steps back, not directing our every step and telling us continually what to do. He gives us freedom to choose which and what way to head. And when we make mistakes (or even sin), he doesn’t beat us up. Doesn’t snatch back his friendship and grace, hoard his advice and fall silent, withdrawn, and proudly lord over us with “you made your own bed, now lie in it and suffer.”

Instead, he cries and suffers with us, offers forgiveness, still calls us His child and treasure of great price, and welcomes us home. Like the father of the prodigal son runs to greet his son and hurries to throw him a feast.

He offers us truth, showers us with love. This is how he leads us, persuades us, changes us. Truth and love. He always deals with us in truth and love. Motivates us with truth and love. Offers us truth and love.

This is who we are called to imitate.

I watch my daughter and son-in-law care for their daughter. Hold her, listen to her chatter, play with her, and delight in her. I discuss meal plans, cleaning bathrooms, potty training, and nursing, with my daughter. I see the concern and love she has for her little one. She chats about interrupted nights and her daughter’s antics. I smile. I feel such pride and love. Grace surrounds me.

And I feel such wonder and mystery that the baby I once held is now a mother holding her own little version of herself. Walking the path of motherhood that countless generations have walked.

Join the Discussion: How are you being led in truth and love?


Articles is this series:

Yay for Mistakes! Part 1 | What Do You Do?
Yay for Mistakes! Part 2 | How to Respond
Yay for Mistakes! Part 3 | Responding to Our Children’s Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 4 | How to Let Our Children Make Mistakes and Fail
Yay for Mistakes! Part 5 | Quieting a Myth of Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 6 | Mistaking Our Worth
Yay for Mistakes! Part 7 | Mistaking Paradise
Yay for Mistakes! Part 8 | Some Mistakes Are Really Blessings in Disguise
Yay for Mistakes! Part 9 | Dealing with Really Big Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 10; Letting Go to Make Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 11; Dealing with Critical Words From Mistakes

Accompanying this series, Life as it Comes, a story podcast, takes a humorous look at making mistakes in episode 31, “Have You Pulled a Theresa?” and Episode 33, True Green and Garage Chaos .

Next week’s topic:

We will be looking at how to react to people who seem to expect perfection from you. Those who point out all your mistakes.

Stay tuned! (or subscribe and join the journey). Next week, part 11.

Thanks for stopping by,

Keep remembering what’s important!

Theresa

Linking up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope).  A Wise Woman Builds her Home, Pat and Candy, Messy Marriage, Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth), Missional Women, Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement) and Lili Dunbar (#FaithOnFire).

Yay for Mistakes! Part 9 | Dealing With Really Big Mistakes

It was a sunny fall day. We had just left my mother’s home and were driving down the road with my step-father. It seemed the beginning of an adventure as we were chatting and laughing about leaving on time, the sunny day, and our afternoon festivities.

I glanced at my husband, and admired his good looks. I peeked at our five-year-old daughter behind my seat. I glanced down the road and saw a dump truck coming up the hill. I felt giddy with joy in the moment.

The next thing I remember is a school bus starting to turn into our lane. She is going to stop, I think. She didn’t. Suddenly I was hurtling through the air, the G-forces unbearable. Slam. Bam. Then Slam again. It felt like I was jello being shot from a cannon and hitting a brick wall, only not once, but several times. Eventually I passed out.

Screams, moaning, and crying assaulted my ears. Calling me to wakefulness. I fought to not wake up, but eventually I did. The smell of burnt rubber, spilled oil, and hot metal hit my nose. I eventually realized part of the groaning was me. The moaning was my step-father in the back seat, until he passed out and was quiet. The crying was my daughter, until she was removed from the car.

I tried to move. Nothing. I tried one hand. An arm. A leg. My neck. Nothing. I darted my eyes to my husband. He was slumped against the steering wheel with blood dripping out his nose and mouth.

Eventually the ambulance came and we were all taken to the hospital, where we would stay for two weeks, until sent home and confined for months to our home, trying to heal from our broken bones, the trauma, the injuries.

A few days after the accident, I looked up from my hospital bed and there was a lady carrying a bouquet of flowers. Behind her were two more people. She entered the room and sat down. She said she was the driver of the bus who had hit us. And then she started crying and saying she was so sorry. That she had been following the dump truck to closely and had turned without waiting to see if someone was coming (the dump truck had blocked us from her sight for a few seconds).

She said she had been praying for us and calling the hospital daily to see how we were doing.

I lay there with my back broken in two areas, broken ribs, and knee, not knowing if my husband, who was ten floors below me in a coma in critical care, would even live or if he would be a vegetable like his doctor said he might be.

Some mistakes are easy to laugh at. To poo-poo. To say, “No problem,” to. To keep calm and continue straight ahead from.

Others take you for a loop. Leave you speechless. Upend your life for a day, month, or years. The consequences reverberating faster than a bee’s wings.

What do we do when we are faced with a really big mistake? A mistake that affects us or our loved ones in some manner? A mistake that require money or time to fix? A mistake that may not even be able to be fixed?

I knew her hitting us was not deliberate. It was an accident. A mistake. A hurrying-to-school-to-pick-up-the-kids-and-be-on-time mistake.

How many time had I speed a little to get somewhere on time? How many times had I been driving and not giving it my full attention?

I remember the dark night I was driving home as a teen and I started to turn onto the road and suddenly stopped when I saw a headlight through the rain. If I hadn’t stopped, I would have most likely hit the motorcycle.

Not on purpose. It would have been an accident. A mistake. A miss-judgement.

Big mistakes happen once in a while. They just do.

The cat sitter accidently closes the door to the room with the cat litter and you come home to cat messes on the couch, bed, and floor.

The neighborhood boys lop a homerun through your two-story window that looks out over the cul-de-sac.

Your child forgets to turn off the back sprinkler, and you don’t discover the mistake until three  days later.

Your mate forgets to put the chickens in their little safe house for the night and next morning you find dead hens on the lawn.

A family member downloads something from the internet that has a hidden virus, which wipes out your computer.

A doctor makes a mistake during your operation.

A friend backs into the side of your new car.

A child runs in to use the bathroom right before a two-week trip. You come back to find the whole bottom story of your house swimming in water.

All of these mistakes are accidental, and yet they all carry consequences. They are big mistakes with big consequences. What to do?

Remember it is not the mistake itself that so much matters, it is how we react to the mistake.

Luckily big mistakes don’t happen that often.

But when they do we have a choice to make.

We can try to extract what we deem to be a fair payment from the person. This is not always possible. Because what is fair payment? Are you going to make your child pay for all the water damage your house sustained during your vacation?

We can try to undo the mistake. Sometimes this is possible. New hens can be bought, but they will never be the same hens, even if you name them Omelet, Brownie, and Egg-Nog. A new window can be installed, but not without some inconvenience, moving of furniture, and taking time out of your day.

We can get angry and then harbor bitterness and blame towards the other person for making the mistake. Be forewarned, though, this will never undo the mistake, remove the mistake, or take away the consequences of the mistake.

Choosing the last option also harms our self in the process, more than we will ever harm the other person. Anger and blame will eat away our joy. Unforgiveness becomes a heavy burden to drag through life, erects barriers, and it clouds our perceptions. Unforgiveness keeps us awake at night and turns our stomach. It makes us miserable, not the person we are blaming.

We can also choose to be gracious and treat the other person the way we would want to be treated.

This is a win-win situation for all. The other person is already feeling guilty enough and doesn’t need to eat twenty-two more scoops of shame and blame.

When we offer grace and forgiveness, we are saying relationships and people are more important than events and things. We are giving them a gift more precious than gold. We are modeling Christ.

The disciples were told to forgive 70 times 7.

We don’t deserve this much forgiveness, but we have been given so much more than this by our Savior. We have enough to pass onto others.

No matter the mistake. No matter the consequence, the only response that will benefit you and the other person is grace and forgiveness.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What would you want? What would set you free? 

 I listened to the bus driver. Her words coming through sobs. Saw her hunched shoulders, her face that had not had a good night sleep. I saw the turmoil across her forehead, in her clenched hands. I heard her say how she had tried to visit my husband, but been denied access, and could I please tell him that she was sorry.

No, it wasn’t fair that she was sitting in the chair, her husband next to her kneading her shoulder and passing her Kleenex when I was confined to a bed unable to sit up or get out. It wasn’t fair that her husband was next to her and mine was lying 10 floors below fighting for his life. It definitely wasn’t fair.

But as my mother was fond of pointing out when we children complained, “Life isn’t fair. Never was. Never will be.”

But for the grace of God, there goes I.

There was only one thing to do.

I held out my hand. She took my shaking hand, and I nodded.

Extend grace and forgiveness. Always.

You will never regret it.

We have enough problems and battles in this world without hauling around our unforgiveness.

Bernard Meltzner once said, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”

Extend grace and forgiveness. Always.

Be a future changer.

P.S. We all eventually recovered from the accident, though that is a different story. And from that mistake, blessings developed. Because God is in the business of turning mistakes into blessings in disguise.

Join the Discussion: What are some big mistakes you have had to deal with?


Other posts in this series:

Yay for Mistakes! Part 1 | What Do You Do?
Yay for Mistakes! Part 2 | How to Respond
Yay for Mistakes! Part 3 | Responding to Our Children’s Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 4 | How to Let Our Children Make Mistakes and Fail
Yay for Mistakes! Part 5 | Quieting a Myth of Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 6 | Mistaking Our Worth
Yay for Mistakes! Part 7 | Mistaking Paradise
Yay for Mistakes! Part 8 | Some Mistakes Are Really Blessings in Disguise
Yay for Mistakes! Part 89; Dealing with Real Big Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 10; Letting Go to Make Mistakes
Yay for Mistakes! Part 11; Dealing with Critical Words From Mistakes

Accompanying this series, Life as it Comes, a story podcast, takes a humorous look at making mistakes in episode 31, “Have You Pulled a Theresa?” and Episode 33, True Green and Garage Chaos

Remember:


Linking up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope).  A Wise Woman Builds her Home, Pat and Candy, Messy Marriage, Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth), Missional Women, and Lili Dunbar (#FaithOnFire).