I have a problem that I really need a lot of advice to help me deal with it. Here’s my problem: I have a great deal of difficulty handling criticism.  There’s not a doubt that most people have a lot of difficulty with this same issue, but this is me and my problem. I have a very hard time not only trying to accept criticism, which I take very personally, but how to accept positive criticism. I think it’s a matter of seeing both in the same light, which is negative. My typical reaction is to take any kind of criticism as an indictment on my character, and that there’s no way for me to counter it. I get demoralized, I get very upset, and I then am afraid to continue to do anything for fear of failure. As soon as I get singled out for a mistake, I take it to heart and end up snowballing it into my whole life. A clinically aloof part of me realizes this is very distorted thinking, that it’s unrealistic and irrational, but my emotionally sensitive part seems to overrule any logical thought pattern. I seem to put my emotions over rationality and this is where my problems come from. Here’s another aspect to all of this. I have abysmal self-esteem. I don’t view myself in very kind terms, and I’m the first in line to beat myself up over something. I’m always apologizing for whatever I say, expecting to offend everyone for simple as opening my mouth to speak. I am very much my own worst enemy in practically everything, and it’s a not a good place to be. For that matter, it’s not emotionally healthy to live like this, because of the corrosive negativity of the way I treat myself. It’s not a good way to live, frankly.

I don’t know how to handle this. I’m not sure what I should be doing to counter the negative thought processes, because I’ve never really even made any attempts to do so. How do I begin to change my behavior when it comes to someone offering criticism, even if done in a beneficial manner? I think it’s more than just ‘well just stop thinking that way’. This is a learned behavior for me, so it’s a matter of reprogramming my thoughts, if you will.

In regards to positive steps forward, the obvious one is that I realize my actions are irrational. I’ve been able to see that the way I’m thinking doesn’t mesh with the situation, so now comes how to fix that matter. The old bitter standard of ‘suck it up and get over it’ I think is incredibly antiquated and unhelpful. It doesn’t give you any sort of instruction for how to deal with a situation. It’s inflexible and unforgiving, making no distinction of circumstance.

This isn’t a matter of babying someone, or coddling, or lowering standards. For some people, it’s very hard to deal with others because of certain life experiences. When someone has spent a good portion of their life feeling they are worthless, depressed, being emotionally abused, anything one could say could be taken in the wrong way. In my own experience, I saw myself as incompetent, stupid, ugly and useless. I really thought I was a dumb, pathetic creature that was past hope of any recovery. It’s taken me a long time to see this is wrong thinking, but I am now at a stage where I can see it for myself. It’s nowhere near a perfect process, but I now need to find ways of improving my life, because I have to. I can’t go through the rest of my life afraid of everything. How do you cope with these sorts of feelings? Do you have any ideas or advice that might be helpful for someone like me? What would you do if you were in my place, things you might do differently. As the title says, it’s emotional survival skills that I need to develop in order to keep going in this crazy world. I have no intentions of caving in to my nightmares. I mean to fight.