TOXIC SELF-CRITICISM; HOW SHOULD YOU RESPOND?
Do you have someone in your life that suffers from toxic self-criticism?
Perhaps it’s on the topic of their romantic life?
Or maybe the subject of their weight struggles?
What if the person venting their feelings is someone you have only just met?
For many of us, toxic self-criticism can make us feel very uncomfortable. If it’s coming from someone close to you, and it’s the same story on replay with no offered solution, then whilst we all want to be there for our nearest and dearest, it can become a little tiresome.
HOW CAN YOU MOVE THE SELF- CRITICISM CONVERSATION ON WITH A LOVED ONE?
A prevalent complaint from women is on the topic of weight and dieting. We all know of people, and perhaps even ourselves, that are on the weight-cycling hamster wheel. Going from diet to diet, losing, gaining, losing, gaining; you know what I’m talking about!
One suggestion I have to avoid getting sucked into the vortex of their toxic self-criticism is to acknowledge what the person is saying, empathise, then lead the conversation on to a topic that feels natural, for example, a response could be:
“The pandemic has been tough on all of our physics; I think we forget how many calories we burn just through our daily activities. However, I think you are looking luminous at the moment. Do you have any exciting events to look forward to?“
WHY DO STRANGERS VOCALISE THEIR STRUGGLES SO QUICKLY?
Sometimes, the toxic self-criticism comes from someone we have only just met. There can be several reasons for this:
- Cultural differences. Some nationalities share more personal information earlier than others; for example, Americans are far more likely to than the French. In the UK, we prefer to wait until we know a person well before sharing too much personal information.
- They are unaware of the three-levels of conversation: Information, Relational, and Personal. Please read my article Oversharing; how to keep some mystery with strangers for more information on this topic.
- Connection. Some people want to connect quickly; often, they don’t see the value in making small talk, they prefer to move on to the ‘big talk’ immediately, forcing an emotional connection by ‘confiding’ is their way of doing this.
- Fear of being rejected. Some people are so worried you will put them down and reject them they will embark on self-criticism before you have the opportunity!
HOW CAN YOU MOVE THE CONVERSATION ON WITH A STRANGER?
So, the first etiquette rule is to not disagree with the person. In doing so, you are inadvertently saying they are lying, which isn’t a good start!
Again, the aim is to acknowledge, empathise, and move the conversation on. A response could be:
“Gosh, yes, I understand entirely; nature can sometimes be very cruel to us women. As if we don’t have enough to deal with! But let’s not talk about diets tonight; tell me, have you been to this venue before?”
Members of my Online Etiquette Academy pose these types of questions to me during our monthly coaching calls and the monthly live Q&A within the private Facebook Group.
This is where my clients can ask questions specific to the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives. I mentor them through options in line with good etiquette and exceptional manners, all with boundaries of course; well-mannered women are always polite, but we don’t let people walk over us either!
I hope you find these tips for dealing with toxic self-criticism helpful during what can be very awkward situations.
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: