I recently saw a meme that went something like this:
Feedback: take it seriously, not personally.
I like that a lot.
I recently completed my counseling internship. Wait, you say, haven't you been a counselor for ages already?
Well, yes, but, here's how it works in Texas. You do your master's degree, then you take the state board exam in counseling and get a provisional license. Then you do a 3,000 hour internship. 1,500 of those hours, you have to be sitting in a room doing therapy with a client.
Additionally, you explain yourself in detail to your counseling supervisor for one hour each week.
My internship took 4 years. If you figure 50 weeks a year and a supervision session each week, that's about 200 hours of putting yourself out there for feedback. That's kind of a nerve-wracking process, especially in the beginning.
I'm a recovering perfectionist, and it was incredibly good for me to be less than stellar (sorry clients) some days, and to have my supervisor say, "I wonder what would happen if . . ." which was supervisor-speak for "Go back and try it again this way."
The sky did not fall, the sun did not stop shining, and I got to be better at what I love to do.
Here's what I learned: to take feedback seriously, but not personally.
In order to take things seriously but not personally, I need to live daily with the bone-deep assurance that Love lives in me and loves me all the time, even when I screw up.
I need to have the emotional chops to take new information on board, and assimilate it when I need to.
Not every single piece of feedback is worthwhile and true, of course.
But even the feedback that's not true gives me a chance to look deep, think and process, and understand any number of things in new ways.
Knowing that God loves me, no matter what, gives me the capacity to examine feedback with less anxiety and more brain-space so I can evaluate it accurately.
Here's a funny thing.
When we take feedback personally instead of seriously, it may FEEL like we're taking it seriously. Because we're so hurt, so devastated, so demolished emotionally. Surely we've taken it seriously.
But when we allow emotion to be our only response to feedback, we may actually block vital information we need.
We can block feedback by being so scary or so fragile that nobody would ever dare to tell us anything.
We can say things like, "They're so mean" and "Satan's attacking me" and "I feel so bad for people who need to be negative."
But when we block feedback that way, we miss out on an opportunity to examine the feedback for truth, to know ourselves and others better, to change, and to grow.
- How do you handle feedback?
- What's the most difficult feedback you've ever gotten?
- What's the most helpful feedback you've ever received?