Criticism, Feedback, Constructive Suggestion – Or as I like to call it “Terror”

a person covering their face because they are scared of feedback and being vulnerable

Asking for Feedback

I recently “put myself out there” in terms of (gulp) asking for feedback. I am a perfectionist in (perpetual) recovery. I struggle daily with remembering that done is better than perfect.  To give an illustration of the burden this has been on me, I began 873 journals as a child and teen and never made it past page 3 because I would miss-form a letter or make a less than stellar word choice and that would (have) to be the end of it. Although I am writing with a snarky tone, I do not wish to make light of it; such high levels of perfectionism are cumbersome at best and debilitating at worst. 

wood letter blocks that spell out "done is better than perfect" to support the idea that perfectionism can be heavy and difficult


Perfectionism shares a characteristic with workaholism and “OCD.” They are frequently presented in a positive or humorous light. They are words often tossed lightly around without regard for the severity of the impact these traits (characteristics, diagnoses) can have. 

Another example – About 7 years ago, I made my worst to date professional mistake at work. For that school year, I operated under a grey cloud that informed my mood, productivity, and outlook. Although I was trained to know how to recognize and transcend the quagmire of nonproductive introspection (aka rumination), my perfectionism monster demanded that I brood and held me to absurd standards and self scrutiny. My colleagues had moved on and past and even forgiven me (I have been there with greater responsibility for years since) but I remained in the psychological shackles of my own perfectionism. 

Yes, I have issues. But I’ve gotten better.  I have recently engaged a Consultant to help me grow my private practice simultaneous with moving my private practice website to a new host that specializes in sites for therapists. I took a deep breath, made the leap and offered my site to the Consultant for a review. I was terrified. But I did it anyway. As I have emerged (alive and intact) on the other side, I realized that I have developed and codified some strategies for accepting feedback. I thought these might be helpful to you, as well. 

Strategies to Ask for Feedback in a Healthy Way

    1. Be selective on who you choose. In my case, the person offering feedback is a therapist. I could be reasonably certain she’d follow suggested guidelines on how to offer feedback in ways that are kind as well as effective. And she did, including finding ways to give positives as well as “negatives.”
    2. Be selective on timing. I was in a good head space. I was not particularly stressed, and I have had some recent wins in terms of my career. This increased my confidence in that area and allowed me to feel like I could meet the inevitable “let’s make some changes” feedback with resiliency. 
    3. Have a mantra already selected. A mantra is a saying that you use to build a pattern in your brain. Mantras are used to center and calm a person. People in recovery from substance abuse might use the Serenity Prayer, for example. In this case, I used an affirmation, “I am a skilled and worthy therapist.” 
    4. Consider the motive or reason for accepting or soliciting the feedback. Reflect on whether that is sufficient reason to experience the distress that the feedback might cause. My reason in this case was to make maximum use of the Consultant, coupled with the fact that it was “time” to mature my private practice. 
    5. Only solicit feedback on things that are actionable. Don’t ask for feedback on things that can’t be changed or things that can only be changed with the help and “buy in” of others. 
    6. Do not give power to persons who will use it unkindly or unwisely. 
    7. Remember you are not subject to everyone/or just anyone.  

While my own vulnerability excursion went well, this past year I journeyed with a loved one during days, weeks, and months of a “feedback loop” that was not healthy and whole. I love this person wholeheartedly and to see her broken by the toxic weight of poorly constructed and inappropriately communicated feedback was heartbreaking. The aftermath of this unboundaried “feedback” and criticism dynamic continues for my family member. My loved one was bombarded with feedback at the wrong time, the content of dubious nature, and from a source that had lost the status of kind and safe. The damage created by that event is significant.  


If you feel it’s time to up your game with regard to soliciting and accepting and responding to feedback, Brene Brown has a good book that is an excellent read for how being vulnerable to appropriate feedback can enrich your life: 

 If you feel that having a professional respectfully engage with you on issues of substance abuse, misuse, family issues, or boundary issues, I provide services to clients in Katy, Houston, and Texas

this is a sign saying "do something great" to encourage readers to make healthy choices about asking for and accepting feedback


24618 Kingsland Blvd 2nd Floor, Room 8
Katy, TX 77494
On the left hand side of the CLS building
(281) 740-7563

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