- Mental Health
The Fear of Criticism
Facing Your Fears
Most humans, even animals and plants have some kind of fears or phobias. Some of these can be mild forms of fears or extensive debilitating phobias that paralyze a person. According to The New Webster's Dictionary, fear is defined as "anxiety caused by expectation of evil, danger, awe or dread.' The online Dictionary defines fear as:
1a. A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger. 1b. A state or condition marked by this feeling: living in fear. 2. A feeling of disquiet or apprehension: a fear of looking foolish. 3. Extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power. 4. A reason for dread or apprehension: Being alone is my greatest fear.
What are some of your fears? Most living things; plants, animals and people exhibit some form of fear. The Mimosa pudica plant closes up when touched; you could say that it is reacting to fear or danger. Most of us at one time or another smelled the effect of a skunk's fear. Humans also have many fears and phobias. According to Napoleon Hill, author of the book, Think and Grow Rich, there are six basic fears: 1. the fear of poverty 2. the fear of criticism 3. the fear of ill health 4. the fear of loss of love of someone 5. the fear of old age 6. the fear of death. Dr. Joseph Murphy, author of The Power of Your Subconscious Mindstates that fear is man's greatest enemy. He further states that fear is a thought in your mind. Iyanla Vanzant in her book, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up declares fear as False Expectations Appearing Real.
Why do you feel fear? According to Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles, millions of years ago fear was our body's way of signalling danger; it gave us the burst of adrenaline needed to run away. Anthony Robbins in his book, Awaken the Giant Within, argues that fear serves a purpose. He posits that "fear is simply the anticipation that something that's going to happen soon needs to be prepared for." It sounds like these men are expressing similar views on fear; that fear is a preparation to do something, either to run away or to attack. It is therefore of importance that when you feel fear, you must get prepared or become proactive. I believe that before one gets to the proactive stage of handling fear, he must first understand what are the underlying causes of fear.
The Fear of Criticism
The fear of criticism can be very destructive to one's initiative, imagination, self-reliance and individuality. Some writers believe that this fear came about from the time that politics came into existence. Some writers also point to the Bible sighting various violent criticisms therein. Others posit that the fear of criticism is a learned behaviour. They argue that based on one's socialization one can learn to become fearful of criticism. They point to critical parents, teachers and peers as the earliest ways in which the fear of criticism is learned. Children and people in general have a sense of belonging whether to a family or a group. Sometimes to secure membership to that group one may be ostracized or criticized as a test of worthiness of membership. I refer here to some of the initiation rites that happen at some workplaces, schools or the army. These situations can create much anxiety and stress that eventually lead to fear. A young recruit to the army learns some form of grooming and is criticised if he does not comply.
It is said that most people are glossophobia,which is the fear of public speaking. Above the fear of death, glossophobia is said to be the number one fear of most people. The underlining reason for the fear of public speaking is the fear of criticism. No one wants to be perceived as a failure, to look and sound stupid,uninformed or unintelligent. This kind of thinking, creates self-doubt, the result is nervousness, anxiety and possible lost of concentration. You forget what you were going to say and end up looking like all those descriptions that you were trying to avoid in the first place. A vicious self-fulfilling prophecy.
What are some of the symptoms of fear of criticism? According to the website http://www.psitek.net/pages/PsiTekTAGR37.html Some of the symptoms of fear of criticism are:self -consciousness, lack of poise, inferiority complex, extravagance, lack of initiative and lack of ambition.
How do you effectively deal with the fear of criticism? Like any other fear, the solution is to face it; not to run away from it. Anthony Robbins suggests that you should review your feelings and evaluate what you must do to prepare, in other words, be proactive. So the fear of public speaking which is underlined by the fear of criticism can be effectively addressed by making sure that you do your research and understand whatever you will be speaking about. You have to step out of your comfort zone and feel the stage fright or anxiety that is related to public speaking; acknowledge the feeling. Jack Canfield suggests that you focus on the physical sensation that you feel when you experience the fear, then focus on the feelings that you would like to feel. For instance, if when you are fearful of public speaking, you may feel nervous and awkward. Try focusing on feeling confident and poised. Jack Canfield suggests that after doing this shuffle back and forth, you will soon begin to feel the fear dissipating.
Facing your fears is no small feat. However the only way to overcome your fears is to face them head-on. Being aware of your fears and understanding how to manage your reactions to them will effectively allow you to transcend all fears, including the fear of criticism.