This was yesterday’s paradoxical tip of the day!
There’s no such thing as a false criticism.
The best way to explain this is through a specific criticism you have received from someone. You can nearly always, if not always, find some truth in it. When people criticize you, they always have something in mind about you that’s bugging them. And even if they express their criticism in an exaggerated way, you can still find the truth in what they are saying if you are motivated to really SEE and comprehend what they are trying to tell you.
The most obvious example of a tough criticism to agree with might be the outburst from a hospitalized individual with schizophrenia who angrily says something to you that sounds delusional, like “I know you are from the FBI plotting to have me killed, and don’t you deny it!”
Is there some truth in this criticism? Of course there is, and if you think about your therapy session with this individual yesterday, you might recall that it was pretty tense, so you could say something like this:
“Jim, I have to agree with you. We’re on the same page. Yesterday I thought I didn’t do a good job making you feel safe or cared about during our therapy session, and I don’t think I communicated enough warmth or respect. It was awkward for me to, and I’ve been criticizing myself as well, especially since I really do like you. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were feeling anxious, scared, mistrustful, and even angry with me. Can you tell me what that was like for you? Your feelings are really important, and I want to hear more about what you’ve been thinking and feeling.”
That’s just off the top of my head, and you could probably improve on it. But the odds are about 90% that Jim will calm right down and open up. Of course, your statement has to be genuine, and it has to come from the heart, or it won’t be effective.
The statement I wrote is an example of the Disarming Technique, which is one of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. When you us the Disarming Technique, you find truth in what the other person is saying, even if it seems totally untrue or unfair. And the moment you do this, if you do it skillfully, the other personal will nearly always stop believing their criticism. This is a paradox. In other words, you can usually put the lie to a criticism by genuinely agreeing with it, showing self-respect and respect for the other person.
But this is hard because:
- It is a high art form that requires lots of practice.
- It requires genuine humility and the death of the “ego,” or “self.” The Buddha called this the “Great Death,” but the concept is woven into nearly all religions.
- It requires the strong desire to have a close and rewarding relationship with the person who is criticizing you.
Very few people will fulfill these three requirements. That’s one of the main reasons why we continue to have so much conflict and suffering in the world, both between individuals (married couples, friends, family members, strangers, and colleagues) as well as between religions, nations, political parties, and so forth. We all want to be “right.” I have often said that “truth” is the cause of nearly all the suffering in the world today.
There’s another paradox. Did you get it?
* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD.
Hey, folks, my summer intensives are nearly always my BEST training programs of the year, and they are almost upon us. Here are the specifics:
Coming in Canada in July
Advanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
A Four-Day Intensive Training in TEAM-CBT
July 3 – 6, 2018 Whistler, BC, Canada
For more information, contact Jack Hirose & Associates Inc.
Phone: 604.924.0296, Toll-free: 1.800.456.5424
* * *
Coming in San Francisco in August
High Speed, Drug Free Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders–
A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive
August 6 – 9, 2018, South San Francisco Conference Center, California
For more information, click here
or contact http://www.iahb.org/
If you can only attend one of my workshops, consider an intensive! They are
Register right away if you want to get in on the action!
Hope to see you in Whistler in July or San Francisco in August!