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9/19/2006

HELP OR HURT

Do you ever feel like you're doing more harm than good? The thought's crossed my mind this morning.

I wonder if part of that self-doubt exists because, well, fact is, those we hurt are often louder than those we help. I tend to carry around the one criticism from the past week as if it were a boulder, the majority view, as if there isn't a mountain of good that came out of the same seven days. Artistic temperament? Wuss? Perfectionism? A quest for peace? Or just human.

I have to be honest with myself too and admit that I tend to blog more about the zippers down than the zippers up. It's funnier, more interesting, more educational, more comment getting - I rationalize - to talk about the stuff that's wrong, irritating, could be better, failed, a little off etc. It's how I learn too. Of course the funny educational benefits and the interstingness would wane a little for me if I were the wrong, irritating, could be better, failed, a little off thing being written about.

Where is that line between honesty and hurtful, between analytical/constructively critical and just plain @$$hole? Why do some of us care so much more about the criticisms from the few than we do about the testimonies of good done well from the many?

I just wonder. What do you think?

24 Comments:

Blogger Nancy Tyler said...

That one, lone "boo" drowns out the other thousand in the crowd who are cheering...I struggle with that too and honestly, it's one of the biggest things I hate about myself. I think it really hobbles me. I get so thrown by a comment someone tosses my way. Even if there is no intent behind it, it still can have the power of a hand grenade to shake me from what I know is real and right.

Maybe we are slaves to our temperaments to a degree, and I am just sensitive or insecure, but this is something within myself that I really battle. And maybe with the right self help book, I will win? LOL

9/19/2006  
Blogger Kat said...

I've certainly been asking the same questions. The whole discussion recently about the Mockingbird promotion really spiraled into something that I don't feel was very constructive.

It's actually been bothering me that I started it all and that I was the original source of criticism. After looking at some of my recent (and most popular) posts about the music industry and marketing, I realized that I'd done a lot more finger pointing and criticizing than constructing solutions and creating positive discussion.

So while I definitely think that there is a place for criticism, I think it's important to identify when the discussion moves from constructive criticism to destructive arguing and to either steer it back or stop it altogether. There's not much worse than walking around throughout your day knowing that you put a bunch of people in a bad mood.

In trying to make things right, I've been working hard trying to write blog posts that are helpful, constructive, and informative. It's certainly much harder than just analyzing someone else's ideas, and it doesn't provoke much discussion, but at the end of the day I feel as though I've really accomplished something.

9/19/2006  
Blogger Kat said...

Also, I think that if I look at criticism as an opportunity to change and grow, then I can have a much healthier perspective. If everyone in my life just cheered me on, I'd be pretty stagnant.

When I receive a criticism, I have three options:
1. Recognize the truth in it and change.
2. Evaluate it against who/what God says I am and if it doesn't jive, try to forget about it.
3. Mope and create my own pity party.

It's hard not to mope, but I have to recognize that moping isn't going to get me anywhere.

9/19/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Welcome to my world, Kat. The reverberations of anything I sing, say or do are often felt immediately and miles away and don't fade quickly. Makes me a bit fake and fearful at times. Not returning an e-mail gets me called arrogant or snobby and launches a war. Thinking out loud attracts enemies like flies, eager to pick apart every word and recast my thoughts as devilish. Anything I say or do can be misconstrued by hundreds or even thousands who form last opinions about me without ever speaking to me or knowing me.

The converse is true to though. The good moments, the moments when I'm not goofing up, reverberate too. They can encourage a church in China or save a child in Uganda or bring absolution to an addict in Detroit. Without meeting face to face. It's a two sided knife I guess. Worth putting up with the downside for that amazing upside.

Good to know I'm not alone. Helpful thoughts from you both.

9/19/2006  
Blogger Cristy said...

I think the reason we care more about the critical comments is because anyone can say good job, even if they don't mean it. If someone disagrees, though, they have atleast made you feel valued as a person by considering what you have to say. We also have the opportunity to learn something about ourselves through criticism.

But just because someone is critical, doesn't mean they're right. Maybe you were misunderstood and will think about how you word things or come across the next time you state a point. You will also be afforded the opportunity to clarify if that's the case. Maybe they have a different opinion because of something they've experienced that you haven't.

I think the reason that we think more about critical comments and carry them around, is because the truth hurts and leaves a lasting impression. In most cases, that's not such a bad thing because it makes you take a hard look at yourself from someone else's point of view.

9/19/2006  
Blogger Mustard Packet Pelter said...

"Take the best, disregard the rest." I believe in kind criticism. Mean criticism can be delievered just as quietly as kind criticism. It's just a choice to if we listen to it or not. We all have that choice. Do I choose to ignore it or listen to it and let it eat away at me.

9/19/2006  
Anonymous euphrony said...

Sometimes, speaking your mind while honestly seeking an answer can put you in a pot of boiling oil. I've been there. As someone who has eaten a few loafers in my time, I have learned to think slowly, talk even more slowly, and reread what I write before I ever let anyone else see it. I could talk about a few ugly incidents in my past, but so could we all.

It is correct that the controversial, the critical, the edgy often make for more lively conversation and to most people have more entertainment value. That's why the Springers have been so popular - we loved the show for its confrontational nature. However, if you state something simply, talking about fundamentals, people tend to gloss over what you have said and may never respond. We all have egos, we bloggers, and we want people to visit and to comment; so we often tailor our posts to draw attention and conversation rather than presenting a less interactive story. (Notice, I have been saying we all this time.)

I decided a long time ago that one of the things to which God has called me is to encourage, specifically by sharing my thoughts on scripture and on God in writing. A good number of my blog entries are these “thought pieces” and they rarely, if ever, get a response. This leaves me wonder if anybody out there cares; but I press on because I know that that is where God has called me to be. When I need it most, Jehovah is always there to hold me up and encourage me to keep on. A few days ago, though, I blogged on hard/harsh language and profanities in Christian music, writing as a “thought piece”, and got significantly more comments than usual; I believe from the more controversial nature of the topic. I may not always live up to being an encourager, but I try very hard to speak in a positive way, even when trying to correct or criticize, because I want more than an argument – I want to effect their lives. (Not asking for much, am I?)

The Derek Webb thing went from being a conversation between acquaintances who know at least a little about each other to a free-for-all with people popping in and leaving with a misunderstanding of what has been said. It should have been expected, I guess; but still, you were just looking to clarify your own thoughts and the thoughts of others so you would know better haw to run your own business and both sides must be seen for the picture to become clear. We’re too quick to pick sides: there are no sides here between us, just one body that should be seeking to follow Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 and examine to lift up one another.

Oh, Shaun, not to be critical, but the Technorati Mini thing is driving me crazy. It is constantly trying to reload and, in doing so, freezes the rest of the page on me. I don’t know if anyone else has had this problem, but you might consider resetting the refresh rate on it.

9/19/2006  
Anonymous hollybird said...

I have learned a lot in the past 2 weeks about helping vs hurting. What I have found is that sometimes what feels like hurt IS help. Our son has had a serious complication from a surgery, and as a result, he has a hole in his stomach that we have to clean out three times daily by putting a cutip and peroxide in there. It hurts. End of story.
However, without that hurt, there is no healing. I know in my own life, the criticisms that I hear hurt like you-know-what. Sometimes they are true, though, and that is healing IF I let it be.
We also have to realize that sometimes the words that people say to us are not true, and there is no place for them in our lives. That is the hardest thing for me to do...do I say something to the person, turn the other cheek, ignore it totally and pretend it didn't hurt? I think there is a time for all of those, if I am honest.

I guess for me, the most important thing that I need to hear every day is my DADDY telling me "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you to myself with unfailing love". Doesn't get any more healing than that!

Just some thoughts from me... for what it's worth.

Blessings on you.

9/19/2006  
Blogger Kat said...

Good thoughts Hollybird.

9/19/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

I don't usually handle criticism as well as I should because I'm easily "bruised" and take most things hard. Sometimes it's hard to separate what might be criticism of a certain action, etc. from feeling attacked on a personal level. It is for me anyway. I have had difficulty with depression and low self-esteem most of my life and criticism received at the wrong time, no matter how true it may be, is always hard to handle. Because of this however, I think it has made me very careful about criticising others, which is a good thing. Words DO hurt, contrary to the popular childhood rhyme, and once said, you take un-say them, even with an apology.

I worry when someone doesn't reply to an email or return a phone call, etc. that they "just don't care about me." May or may not be true, but I'm working on focusing on who DOES care about me. My Lord, my husband, my children. A young seminary student said something to me years ago that I now have printed in my Bible; "everything will fail me except Jesus Christ." That is so true, of things and people. It isn't always intentional, but it always happens. Keeping that perspective helps me not to take things as hard as I'd like sometimes.

Beth

9/19/2006  
Blogger Cristy said...

euphrony said: Oh, Shaun, not to be critical, but the Technorati Mini thing is driving me crazy. It is constantly trying to reload and, in doing so, freezes the rest of the page on me. I don’t know if anyone else has had this problem, but you might consider resetting the refresh rate on it.

Ditto.

9/19/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

It's gone. Deleting right now.

9/19/2006  
Anonymous hollybird said...

I think that part of the reason that some of us are easily bothered by the words/criticisms of people and others aren't comes down to simply, that's the way we are wired. I worry about what others think about me, sometimes to the point of sacrificing my true self so that I fit in better. I have a friend, on the other hand, who is herself at all times. She isn't bothered by what others think. We learn from each other. I can teach her to be more gentle in her dealings with others, that feelings do count. She teaches me to be who it is that God made me (sometimes that is hard to know!). I believe wholeheartedly that there is a need for both types of people. The key to it, in my opinion, is learning to feed off of one another and learn from those that are different than we are. It's too easy to cross the line of honesty and step into hurtful. We all do it too often I think, at least I do! Too many times, I have to backtrack and beg forgiveness for my words. Why then am I so surprised when someone does it to me?

9/19/2006  
Anonymous euphrony said...

Thanks, Shaun. Site loads much easier now.

9/19/2006  
Blogger Andrew said...

An interesting point to consider why criticism hurts so (constructive or not) is because of how we are made. We were made in God's image. And if we recall the original reason he put us all on this earth, and that is to praise Him. He loves to hear praise, adoration, awe, and thanksgiving. I'm sure it hurts Him too, when we criticize, turn our backs, deny, and sin against Him. We all want to be loved and accepted. God designed us that way. While some may say they don't care what others think, say, or do (you know, sticks and stones may break my bones....) deep down, I'm sure there is still that little bit of caring and maybe more than a little bit. We have to remember that criticism is something people are going to do. We have to have the Christ-like attitude of forgiveness (70X7) and not let those hurts damage our Christian walk and testimony. This includes pity-parties and harsh comebacks.
Remember Proverbs 13:3
3 The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.
We need to make sure in giving criticism and recieving that we think before we speak.

9/20/2006  
Anonymous tunz4jesus said...

The mockingbird thing was very hepful for me. I had the chance to evaluate how I felt about this marketing technique and what exactly my options were. I emailed 10 friends asking if I could use an email address and linked them to here. Before the end of he day I had 10 people giving me permission to use their emails and good conversation with the ones that I don't talk with daily. So thanks, Kat and Shaun, and Derek. Ya'll rock!

9/20/2006  
Anonymous Kristopher said...

Wow! Commenting about commenting about the critical comments sure gets alot of comments.

Also, if you need some more quotes, let me know. Kierkegaard is tired.

9/20/2006  
Blogger Kristen said...

I understand what you mean about blogging. It's very tempting to point fingers when typing thoughts out on a keyboard. And if you look at a lot of blogs, that's exactly what is being done.

There is a fine line between bringing up something that is wrong and being judgemental. I think it's the responsibility of every believer to determine where that line is and not to cross it.

However often even when we are doing the right thing, we do face criticism. Just look at Jesus' life- He faced way more criticism than He did compliments.

9/20/2006  
Blogger jayrod said...

all the criticism we get from the few echo the criticism from inside. it's hard not to focus on the things that we already think about ourselves. criticism legitamizes our feelings of weakness.

9/20/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who offends me with wisdom -- thank you.

Best,
Brant

9/20/2006  
Blogger Kathryn said...

'the line'. . .i walk that line. . more often than i want to, i cross over onto the wrong side -- even if no one hears or see me do it, i can cross over in my mind. Sometimes i feel totally bad, like i'm incapable of remaining good for even 1/2 an hour. . and when i feel 'good' it is just an illusion - for i'm not -- i need redemption by the minute -- and it took me 44 years to figure this out??! being critical is too easy. . taking criticism . .i almost think i'd rather endure criticism than to be ignored. .

9/21/2006  
Blogger Nancy Tyler said...

Kathryn--I wonder if knowledge like that comes at a "certain age" in somebody's life...knowing that we need redemption by the minute. Because I'm sure aware of it in myself now and I wasn't a few years back. And I agree on the ignored thing too. I sometimes have to sit myself down mentally and have a little talk with myself about why I'm feeling ignored and might there be another, more accurate interpretation of the situation. Having a "rich internal life" is great when I'm writing and counseling, but not so great at other times. LOL

9/23/2006  
Blogger Seth Ward said...

Amen to that Brant. A-MEN. Sing it in the morning.

Sometimes I wish people would offend me more in that way.

9/24/2006  
Blogger Kathryn said...

that realization (of needing redemption by the minute). . i'm not sure if it is age related or cumulative experience related? regardless. . it's good to get to that point!

9/25/2006  

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