|Last week I had a very interesting discussion about "Criticism". What had sparked it off was me offering to give someone a hand with something via the medium of proofreading. Now - for some people - proofreading can just be a way of ripping the author to shreds merely by tearing every last word to shreds. Me??? I tried to make it a little bit fun for the author to read. (I think it might have worked too.)|
It got me thinking though. We are subjected to criticism of one kind or another most of our lives. Some of the most dangerous criticism can also be the most well-meaning as well.
I have written before about the danger of judging other people by your own standards without knowing the full story.
What I haven't told you is that I could potentially be the most dangerous person you have ever met - and I wouldn't even need to lay a finger on you or "tool myself up" in order to achieve that status.
A few well-placed words of criticism, judgement, or even just a passing comment on one of your interests in a negative way, and I could very easily make you lose the will to live.
How do I know this??? One word - Bullying.
I know I can sound like a broken record when I get onto the subject of Bullying but - if you knew the full impact it has had (and still has) on my life - you would understand.
I have been told by a lady who I greatly respect that she couldn't believe that I can still remain so friendly after reading one of my recent blog posts.
What she may not have realised is I only have three options when it comes to dealing with people
1) Appear as friendly as I can for as long as I can (treat people with the respect I wish they treated both myself and themself with, even when they are being the most offensive creatures on Earth) - and this can be more of a case of "Forgive them for they know not what they say (or the effect their words have)" than anything.
2) Go permanently on the defensive and lash out at the other person before they lash out at me. For some strange reason - people seem to object greatly to this treatment. Apparently it is not a very nice way to behave.
3) Avoid all contact with human lifeforms altogether. If I am perfectly honest - this is actually more like my Default setting. There is a saying that "No man (or woman) is an island" and we need human connections to feed from emotionally - but what is the point when the "emotional food" we get from people is posionous to the point of killing us (or making us want to kill ourselves)???
I can imagine a certain person getting all upset because they will (correctly) say that nobody can be responsible for how you understand (or misunderstand) what someone says to you apart from yourself. (See - some things which Brainiacs say to me actually sink in sometimes.)
However, that is applicable when one person says it once. When it is said repeatedly - either by the same person or more thsn one person on several occassions - you can't help but believing you are a useless piece of junk who doesn't deserve to live.
It gets worse.
It is all very well close family and friends (if you actually trust anybody enough to believe a word they say any more) telling you they think you are the best thing on the planet. However - especially in my case - the bullies had (and - in a way - still do have) one very powerful tool in their arsenal which everybody chooses to ignore.
I have blogged before about how the Mainstream Media doesn't exactly "celebrate" (I really hate that word in that sickly sweet context) people like me.
I also seem to remember blogging - even though I think it was on the original "Inkyworld" - about how I almost came to blows with someone who said that bullying shouldn't be featured on TV. (Let's just say that the person who I had the "minor" disagreement with found themself being educated about how Roland's bullying on "Grange Hill" had given me some idea of the bullying I would be subjected to in Secondary school.)
In order to become a better society we need to use the experiences of people like me (Disabled - and/or Survivors of Bullying) to educate the rest of the world about the realities of being us.
There is no single "Default Template" specimen of a human being who can be held up as a true example of perfection - not living anyway. So we need to learn to live with each other and accept both our own flaws and those we see in other people.
We need more positive examples of people who can be seen as not exactly "Mainstream".
Most of all - we need to stop believing the poisonous rubbish being put out by the media - which tells us that there is such a thing as the "perfect person" but we will never reach that goal without spending millions of pounds on plastic surgery, developing an eating disorder, or just plain Martyring ourselves to the cause of "Perfection".
The trick is - not to get too Biblical about it - acknowledging our own flaws before we attempt to point out anybody else's.)
Sometimes I wonder if schools should now teach self-respect as part of their curriculums. Because - surely - if you respect yourself you are also going to respect other people??? Or have I got that completely wrong???
There is a big difference between "self-respect" and "self-esteem" (forget about "self-awareness" for a minute) as far as I am concerned. "Self-esteem" can falsely appear to be built up by bullying others who you consider defective - whereas "self-respect" would mean that you have no need to make yourself feel like the "Great I Am" at someone else's expense.
Your brain is where your thought are formulated but your mouth is the weapon most of them are fired from. Be very careful what you say to someone - your next words might be the last straw for someone's will to live.