Some people naturally repulse criticism. These people may show outward signs of their repulsion. These people may not show outward signs, or their repulsion may hide so well it would take a professional observer to notice it. Regardless, internally, these people churn in reaction to criticism. For these people - even small, innocuous pieces of feedback can trigger intense internal reactions, floods of adrenalin – adrenalin spikes.
- Do you know people who show vehement reaction to tiny criticisms…people who have zero tolerance for incoming criticism?
- Do you know people who, at first, show no outward reaction to criticism then, later, strike excessive reactionary blows against the person who delivered the criticism?
- Do you know people who have the habit of claiming they are the victim of undue criticism?
- Do you know people who repulse criticism yet deliver it to others with gusto and righteousness?
These are four common reactions to criticism.
I have personally exhibited at least three of these four reactions to criticism…and, probably, many people would think I’m selling myself short by not admitting to all four.
Why would I have had such reactions to criticism?
Not having much knowledge of physiology or biology and only dabbling experience with psychology I answer that question this way:
- When people criticized me, I experienced adrenalin spikes [or was that cortisol?]. I felt strong, churning, tightening sensations in the gut…quickly followed by combinations of anxiety and anger, often intense anger...then excessive negative thoughts and behaviour.
- This reaction must have started when I was a very young child. I have no memory of reacting any other way to criticism [until the last decade, that is].
- Perhaps, my criticism-repulsion was are due to genetics? Perhaps, my childhood environment? Perhaps, my early experiences with authority figures? I expect it was some combination of these things.
Here’s a curious thing. When you experience criticism-repulsion as a child you can be quite oblivious to other people. And, this can cause challenges…a large variety of interpersonal challenges. Left unattended, these interpersonal challenges can last a lifetime.
Here’s some good news. It is possible to gain self-understanding and create strategies to overcome the interpersonal challenges. The starting point, or at least one starting point, is recognition of the physiological changes that signal less-than-ideal reactions to criticism. People, perhaps most people, can alter their bad habits [including adrenalin spikes] if they choose to make the changes and do the work required.
PS: Perhaps, the people who experience the criticism-repulsion I have described are most capable of identifying it in other people? ... and helping others?