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Criticism From Loved Ones Hurts, But Don’t Take It To Your Heart

patriarchy oppresses women

We make a lot of sacrifices and adjustments in order to lead the life that we do. Be it giving up work, or holding on to a job to fulfill the financial needs of our family, be it cooking three meals a day, or taking care of the elderlies and young ones single-handedly, the struggle is a part and parcel of everyone’s life. But when we are appreciated for all that we do, and what we achieve, the struggles seem worthwhile. Isn’t it a great thing to be acknowledged for your hard work and dedication, especially by your loved ones? But what if the people you love the most criticise you instead? What if they abhor the choices that you make? Do your sacrifices and decisions lose value when they are critiqued by those close to you? Should one take such criticism to heart and internalise guilt and “failure”? Or should one just simply move on?

To begin with, the journey of sacrifices and struggles is a tricky business. Where does one draw the line with giving up your own pleasures? Since in our society women are brought up with the notion that it is their duty to please those close to them, no matter what the cost, this journey is an unending one for a lot of women. As times have changed, the tendency to please others has taken a different meaning for different women. Some do not believe in paying heed to criticism, from loved ones or strangers alike, at all, while there are those who struggle everyday to earn appreciation.

Some Thoughts:

  • Criticism from a loved one can hurt you and make you question your choices.
  • But must give others the agency to recourse their lives, even  if they are close to us?
  • One needs to ask if a loved one is criticising us because we are in wrong or because it causes them discomfort?

Also Read: Are Relationships Becoming Performative For The Sake Of Social Media?

The people-pleasing attitude that is cultivated in us since childhood means that we give others the agency to define our lives, our existence and our happiness. We are happy only when those who matter to us are, and we feel like a failure when people around us express displeasure. This is where the sensitivity to criticism comes in. We constantly realign our choices and way of life based on what others have to say.

While a lot of women today don’t give a damn what random strangers, extended relatives, or acquaintances have to say about them, criticism still hurts, when it comes from those close to us. So while it won’t rile us if someone says our dressing sense is bad, or that we went back to work too soon after becoming a mom, the same comments may hurt if they come from one’s husband, or mother or progeny. What do you think? Share with us in the comments section below.

The people-pleasing attitude that is cultivated in us since childhood means that we give others the agency to define our lives, our existence and our happiness.

However, women forget that despite being so close to us, these people haven’t lived the life that we have, or faced issues that we may have. Therefore it may be difficult for them to understand our point of view. Also, a lot of times when we give our loved ones the agency to criticise and influence us, they end up abusing it to have things their way. Perhaps a loved one is criticising your decisions because it causes them discomfort, and not because you made a bad call. Or maybe someone close to you sustains a conservative mindset that keeps them from seeing your point of view as a correct one.

Also Read: Why Are Women The Chief Sacrifice Officers In Our Society?

This is exactly why women need to stop beating themselves up when criticised. Little things or big, your life choices cannot always be wrong, and you need to have more faith in your rationale. That dress is not a bad one, perhaps it is just too short to gain approval from someone conservative. You are not selfish for prioritising your well-being, perhaps those around you are simply fussing over the discomfort it will cause them. Your lack of will to adjust more isn’t entirely wrong, maybe the person who has to adjust in turn doesn’t want to and is using criticism as a tool to get you to toe the line. So instead of seeking approval from others, show a little love to yourselves. Take the agency of your happiness back in your hands. Yes, facing criticism is inevitable, but we get to have a say in how much it affects us, don’t we?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.