Updated: Aug 22, 2019
Every relationship requires feedback.
Every relationship requires feedback. Whether we want to work through recurring issues with our spouse, reach greater understanding with our friends, coworkers or bosses, effectively impact and instruct our children, we must become experts at hearing others’ experience of ourselves without allowing others’ experiences to define who we are.
When we separate who we are from what we do, we remove the power of shame from bogging us down in defensiveness, criticism and withdrawal.
Our most basic assumption must be that we are inherently worthy of being loved, being respected and being known. We can not negotiate this with ourselves or with anyone else.
We must however negotiate our behaviors with the people we interact with in order to be better spouses, parents, friends, and citizens.
This is difficult to do when we misguidedly adopt someone else’s feedback about our behavior (“what we do,” or something we can control or change) as a definition of our personhood (“who we are,” or something that we cannot control or change).
It makes sense that we become defensive, shut down, or retaliate with criticism when we believe someone is condemning who we are.
We must adopt and accept these truths simultaneously :
Who you are is not defined by what you do.
What you do affects the people you interact with.
If you will demonstrate care for how others experience you and be open to making changes and tweaks to your behavior, language and treatment of others, your relationships will deepen and grow.
Dea Dean LPC