Blog Archives

Taking Criticism

Some of us react to the outside world straight from our feelings. It’s our personality.
We were born that way. We didn’t choose it. That makes us warm, caring, enthusiastic,
empathetic, but also sensitive.
We may be able to move to logic eventually, but our first response is emotional.
If we also happen to be perfectionists, this makes us very vulnerable, particularly to
criticism.
Those of us who express our inner selves through art, writing, music, photography, etc.,
are particularly sensitive to criticism of our creations. It’s as if our very souls are up for
evaluation. Any editing or suggestion for improvements seems like total rejection of whom
we are.
Sadly, since nothing and no one are perfect, often our inability to deal constructively
with editing, criticism, even teaching, can defeat us by preventing our developing skills to
enhance our natural talents. Often, we simply give up and put our energies into something
that doesn’t make us feel so vulnerable. Usually something that we either don’t value as much
or doesn’t expose our inner selves, so not being perfect at it doesn’t destroy us.
We can end up with boxes and closets filled with our creative output, either never completed
or never exposed to other eyes. Maybe we risk sending something off once every ten years, but
when the 99 % inevitable result is a rejection letter, we quit risking for another ten years.
I’m 75 and a lot of what ends up on this blog was written some time ago.
The sad part is that I had affirmation in college from teachers and later got several things
published, but in between received some rejection letters, at least partially because I
sent them to inappropriate publications. Each rejection sent me into years of either not writing
or at least not risking trying to get published.
I explore the world with my intellect. I see connections between ideas, implications,
possibilities. On the Meyers/Briggs Type Indicator this indicates that I process information
with my Intuition. I focus more on the conceptual, than the concrete.
However, as a Feeling type my first response to the world comes from my emotions
and values. I can think and analyze logically, but that will not be my first or strongest response
to experiences or ideas.
There are other aspects of personality that influence us, like Extroversion/Introversion, which
describe where we tend to focus, on the outside world or our inner world.
And Judgment/Perception which describe whether we tend to stay focused on gathering
information or move quickly to decision or action.
I am grossly oversimplifying personality type as described by the MBTI, but for the purpose
of this article, it should be enough to help us recognize that there are particular recognizable
differences in how people deal with life.
Another aspect I’d like to emphasize is that there’s a natural upside to each tendency, but also
a natural downside to each that present unique challenges to each type. This is both a shock
and a gift once we recognize this. It’s a shock because we tend to believe our way of being in
the world, if not the only way, is the best way. Recognizing that every personality type has built
in strengths and weaknesses, challenges us to reevaluate many opinions and to become more
humble about our limits and our need to listen to others.
No more than about 15 % of the population are like me. It was actually a great relief to
discover that. Do you remember the Sesame Street song, “One of these is not like the others.
One of these doesn’t belong?” Well most of my life that described how I felt. Type has
explained a lot.
However, it doesn’t excuse everything. We do develop throughout life and should find it
easier to become more proficient in our weaker areas as we grow older.
But knowledge is power. If we can recognize the aspects of our natural personality that are
creating road blocks for us, we can work on finding ways around them or team up with others
whose strengths are where we are weak.

For me blogging is a way around my weaknesses in handling details, taking rejection, and                                          persevering at one long task.

I probably need several different blogs: one humorous/serious one on aging; one humorous
one on moving to the country; one humorous/serious one on a fifty-four year marriage to my
total opposite in personality, a serious one on growing spiritually through all of the above.
But for now, just having an outlet for past and present thoughts on all of these, either as they
hit me or as cleaning out files brings them to light, is a great motivator. And who knows, maybe
I’ll live long enough to gather my materials into those categories and attempt to publish them.
I have also discovered that many writers share major aspects of my personality. Since many
bloggers are writers or artists, there’s a fairly good chance that there are a significant number
of bloggers who speak my language. So, it may be easier to find an appreciative audience.
I need to share one very relevant experience. Years ago, I applied for a three year lay ministry
program. As part of this, we were given a battery of psychological tests, including IQ tests.
Then we were given feedback about any areas that might cause us problems in ministry.
I was told that I had two areas of potential weakness. One was that I had a high IQ and
probably always thought I was right in conflicts of opinion, but no one was right all the time.
The second was that I was oversensitive to criticism, though he admitted he thought there was
possibly a gender skew to the tests, since way more women tested high in that area.
I realize that what I’m about to share, does not reflect well on the IQ part, but does
really illustrate the problem. I went home very angry. My gut level first response was, “If they
know I’m so sensitive, why would they tell me that!”
This eventually made me deal with my oversensitivity as my problem, not the rest of the
world’s! Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.

The Explosion of Experience: Enlarging My World View

After years of feeling like white noise to family and friends, since starting my blog three months ago, I have been shamelessly exploiting blogging as a way of expressing some of the opinions, insights, and experiences I’ve garnered in seventy-five years of living the questions of life. Now, that I’ve done my share of  flooding the blogging world with the pent-up musings of a frustrated guruh wanna be, I’m focusing outward and discovering the amazing riches of exploring the world across all kinds of physical and metaphysical borders through other blogs.

It’s like being able to teleport yourself anywhere immediately and to experience the world through both another’s literal views and their mental viewpoints to far exceed your own limited mind and means. It’s what books , television, and travel have done in the past, except this is on a much more personal level and has the advantages of immediacy, convenience, freedom of choice, and even interaction, all without the need for affluence or influence.

I reread this and it sinks in even more, how mind expanding and world changing the internet is capable of being.  Not just for young revolutionaries on the other side of the world,  but for people of any age, any gender, any nationality, any religious persuasion, any financial means, any limits, as long as they can get to a library or coffee house that has computers and the internet.

I think if I had the means, I would pour money into making it available to all people in every country.  I realize there’s misinformation and poison on it also, but where there are human beings, those exist.  In the past, if our immediate environment was limited to that, the possibilities for overcoming it were few.  Those possibilities have now exploded exponentially.

I want to mention once again just several of the blogs that I look forward to.

Doctor Dad @ carlocmd.wordpress.com;  Beautifully described father-sons relationship, and insights into the daily experience of  a caring, committed doctor in a third-world country.

patricklatter.smugmug.com; Vicarious mountain hiking experiences through amazing photography of the awesome landscapes of Canada along with first person commentary on the experience with each photo.

Field Notes from Fatherhood.com; a blog by a teacher in a private English school in Hungary.  Excellent on many levels on parenting, teaching from the insider’s view, travel with children.

youllshootyoureyeout-kathy.blogspot.com; delightful travel experiences, laced with touching honest reflections on relating to a beloved father, once a public figure, now suffering from Alzheimer’s.

For humor: (of course)  The Bloggess and also maleparentalunit.blogspot.com(one of my sons’ blog, so some prejudice involved.)