Criticism… believe it or not… ALWAYS has a higher intention.

“You never listen when I’m sharing my feelings with you!”

“Why do you treat me with such disrespect?!”

“Why do you treat me with such disrespect?!”

These questions came up in my recent couples’ sessions. It’s got me thinking about the loop of criticism and defensiveness we create… and fuel… when we criticize our partner.

So what’s criticism anyway? Criticism is when we attack our partner’s character… rather than their specific behavior. Because of our “attacking” words, our partner is often triggered to defend themselves. Then the criticizer just gets more pissed off and triggered by the partner’s defensiveness… and thus the nasty cycle lives on and repeats itself. All while you both wonder what the hell you’re even really fighting about.

I do want to say… even as toxic as criticism truly is to our relationships and marriages… it comes with a higher intent. Always. That’s right. Every single criticism has a hidden request. A deeper need or want underneath, just dying to get met.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE THE ONE FEELING CRITICIZED LATELY: When we can become aware of the underneath request to get a need met… our feelings and emotions in response to the criticism itself can transform. When we can look at a criticism through the lens of “what need are they trying to meet here??”… it can feel a hell of a lot less personal to us. Now we can put the focus back on our partner, rather than on defending our Self. Want to learn about the six universal human needs and which of the 6 Universal Human Needs you, and your partner, uniquely value most? Learn more and take the assessment here!

HOW TO AVOID CRITICISM, WHEN YOU’RE PARTNER ISN’T CUTTING IT: Have you ever noticed how hard it is to listen to someone go off about all that’s wrong in their life… all that’s difficult… messed up… lacking, etc.? And that’s when it’s not even aimed at you! Ok…so what about when IS aimed at you? How difficult has it felt to sit there and listen, without defending yourself. Without consciousness and effort… pretty darn difficult. What about if that person, instead of telling you what they DON’T like about you and your behavior, told you what they DO WANT instead from you? It sounds so crazy simple, but the fact is, our human default way is to notice and to highlight internally and outwardly what we don’t want. What we don’t like. What is difficult and messed up. Because again, a criticism is a request in a clever disguise. So why not get better about expressing that very request underneath by using the DO WANT versus DON’T WANT tool.

Ready to transform a relationship challenge holding you back from having the relationship of your dreams with the partner you ALREADY have?

I invite you to apply for a FREE 45-minute Strategy Call with me to help you begin an immediate shift in your own relationship at home.

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