Criticism is very rarely constructive, whatever people say. One person's helpful advice is another person's ruined day. And then there's the kind of criticism which comes dressed as a joke - 'Oh, I didn't mean your picture really looked like a 5 year old did it! I was just being funny!' Ha ha.
I think there is a whole world of difference between those who criticise but couch it in soft, glowing terms to make it seem good and those who blurt out a criticism and look immediately abashed, never having meant to hurt your feelings (that would be me, half the time).
The ones who make the criticism soft and welcoming, who bring it to you under the guise of a Helpful Thing, they are the tongue of the snake, readers. They pretend it is a friendly act, a way to help you, to make your life better, to stop you from making the same dreadful mistake again. You'll thank them for it, one day.
And the worst of it is that they do stop you doing it again and they do have an effect on your life because the awful, plumbing depth of hurt brought by the criticism is something you never want to repeat. Except, they often do.
I've learnt the hard and hurt way that people who like to criticise will do it no matter what. I could be Splendifera the Wonder Child and they would still poke holes in my life. I could have a house like a glowing, golden treasure trove and they would see the dust on the diamond dragon's left nostril.
I could be justifiably exhausted after busying through a myriad of tasks and responsibilities in the one day and as I can't be criticised for being lazy, I will be criticised for not going to bed sooner so I would have more energy. Or not getting up sooner in the morning, so I wouldn't be so rushed with all the jobs I have to do. Or for just not being organised enough to spread out my workload.
That hard day, full of everything that seemed important, might not appear stressful to others but to me it was an accomplishment. I came through, I am at the other end of it and forgive me if I don't go to bed right away once it is done. I feel I have achieved something, a small glimmer of pride which is at once snatched and screwed up into an untidy and sad little offering by the criticism visited upon me.
It's a sad truth that a full day of winning can be quashed by a few words of criticism.
You see, sometimes people just wait for that slot in the conversation - or they make one of their own - and then insert the little seed of doubt or nastiness which trembles you out onto the edge of the precipice again, all your hard work slipping away into the drop below.
A few words said with unkindness and I am a sad child in the chair by the door. I don't understand that people have reasons for being unkind and I don't realise it might not be all about me. I heard you say you don't like me and my day falls apart, leaving me to pick up the pieces and wonder how to fit them back together.
Readers, thank goodness for friends with enough patience to repeat, as often as it takes, that I am not doing anything wrong, that I am a good person and to explain to me how the pieces look when they are whole, so I can fix them.
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