When opposites are the same thing

October 9, 2013

I was thinking about how being overly criticized, unjustly and frequently criticized, or treated worse than one’s behavior warrants can lead to walling up the self, refusing even reasonable feedback, and coming across as overly self-confident, or it can lead to a loss of confidence and too great a willingness to acquiesce.  I am sure it can lead to other states of mind and behavior, too, but what struck me is that these two extremes are in a way the same thing, namely, damage to an accurate sense of self manifested in an inappropriate relationship to feedback.  Deriving a core sense of self from some healthier source is needed as something against which to measure criticism:  is the criticism reasonable?

There are plenty of social and business, private and public contexts in which the feedback we get about ourselves is unreasonable and needs to be acknowledged, even responded to, but ultimately seen as not really being about us.  Being treated by a customer service representative or a boss rudely or as if we are stupid, being ridiculed by a teacher in front of the class, being punished for something we didn’t do, receiving more negative feedback for a behavior than others receive, not receiving the reward after successfully completing something for which a reward is given —  we need to have a way of processing these experiences without ending up with a distorted self-image and without ending up dismissing all feedback as a result.

So, I think, the overly self-confident person and the insufficiently self-confident person are probably really the same in the sense of having a damaged barometer of self.


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