“People are always criticizing me.”

"Alec" by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

If you are frequently criticized for a particular trait, you might consider whether people have a point. But if you seem to generally bring out the critical side of people, it could be that you are influencing this pattern by your demeanor.

As we grow up, we learn to anticipate how people are going to treat us before we actually interact. That anticipation makes it more likely that things will happen the way we expect. Our facial expressions and body language convey our expectations, and people tend to respond as we expect them to.

If you are used to being criticized, you anticipate feeling hurt and dejected. Just before an interaction, you may start reacting by slight cringing, looking down, or looking unsure. When people subliminally notice dejected body language, it often brings out their critical side.

It may be time to purposely change those expectations and corresponding body language. At first, you can simply pretend that you expect to be accepted and appreciated, rather than criticized. In other words, when you approach others, anticipate the positive. Facial expressions that convey confidence, anticipating acceptance, tend to induce a favorable response.

Once people start responding more positively, you’ll no longer need to pretend to expect the best. It will come naturally.

by Alison Poulsen PhD

Read “I’m really upset about my child being made fun of at school.”
Watch “Quieting a Harsh Inner Critic.”

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5 thoughts on ““People are always criticizing me.”

  1. Kyle

    I have kind of noticed that I don’t look at people when they talk and I seem to get more of the critical part of them out but I do not knwo what to do to change my behavior because it’s seem to happen in a sub-conscience way like knowing how to eat.

    It’s drilled really deep within me and I hate myself because of it and have always been stewing over it knowing I am screwed if I make one mistake.

    I actually have to FORCE myself to look at other people when it’s critical moments and believe me it is NOT fun.

    1. admin Post author

      First of all, don’t hate yourself. Have compassion for yourself. I’m sure there is a good reason you developed that habit, such as living around critical people. Kids develop habits as a way of surviving and thriving in their home environment given their own personality and tendencies. Once you grow up, you have the choice to try to change certain habits to make your life easier and communicate more effectively.

      It might also be interesting for you to look at my article called “Asperger’s: ‘Look me in the eye'” though I’m not suggesting you have Aspergers. Yet, you should treat yourself and be treated by others with the same understanding as those with Aspergers should be treated.

      Breaking any habit requires practice and effort, and not harsh criticism. Remember even if you do look away from people, that doesn’t mean you deserve any disrespect. In western culture, though, when you don’t glance occasionally at people who are talking, they tend to think that you are uninterested, disrespectful, or perhaps lacking in self-esteem. These thoughts don’t tend to bring the best out of others.

      So you might just practicing glancing at a person every 10 seconds or so while they speak — you don’t have to stare non-stop. It helps to really listen to what they’re saying with a focused, confident demeanor and not to focus on how inadequate you feel. Remember most people are focused on themselves and how others are responding to them.

      Also, with people who are close to you, you might explain that you listen better when you are not looking directly at them. While they might think you are uninterested in what they have to say, the opposite is true. Staring at someone may make you lose your concentration because of your discomfort.

      However, brain research shows that you can lose that feeling of discomfort through practice. The more you glance at people while they talk, the less awkward you will feel. Just start out gradually.

      Check out “Look me in the eye when I talk to you” and let me know what you think.

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