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It’s tempting to believe we must figure life out on our own, and that receiving feedback from others is somehow exposing our incompetence. But we grow in relationships, and part of this requires learning to tolerate the tension necessary to receive constructive feedback from others.

Of course, feedback comes in many different forms. Affirmations, for example, are a type of feedback. These statements of positive support encourage us to keep doing whatever we’re doing. And typically, this feedback is readily received.

On the other hand, criticisms are also a type of feedback that can quickly become negative, shaming, and even contemptuous. This happens when the focus remains exclusively on one’s shortcomings and brings into question his ability to do any better. This feedback generally triggers our defenses and we seek to avoid it at all cost.

But there are times in which we must be challenged to grow into our better. This is not an affirmation, but it’s not putting us down either. It’s simply highlighting our room for improvement. And, to be sure, we have room to grow until the day we die.

But, with our propensity to make everything either black or white, it can be hard to sit in this tension. It might be a stinging critique, but a critique with our best interest and potential in mind. And we need this type of feedback to grow.

Affirmations are great, but they might not provide the challenge we need to refine our rough edges. We need many hard and unpleasant truths as well. But these truths should not simply be putting us down, as it’s easy to grow discouraged and stop trying at all.

Constructive feedback seeks to strike a needed balance – the sting of correction mixed with the respect and hope for our better still to emerge.

We shortchange our impact when we don’t learn to accept necessary feedback throughout our life and relationships.

Let affirmations encourage you, as you also wisely protect your heart against needless criticisms. But stay open to feedback in its many different forms as this is your path of growth.

Photo by Yura Timoshenko on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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