coping with criticism, esp. when you have OCPD

new video on same topic

Having trouble receiving feedback or criticism is a human thing. We want to be praised and validated in our work.

However, I am a person living with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), and for me, receiving feedback is a total blow to my system: I’m down for the count, and down and out for the rest of the working day. Recommendation to employer: save the criticism until 4 or 5 p.m.

Clearly, I lack resilience in this area.

We are going to break down how receiving criticism relates to OCPD and how we can think of strategies to cope.

a lil bit of research

This quote is from “Living with obsessional personality,” a study by Rowland, Jainer, Panchal:

“This is one of the major issues to work with when living with people with an obsessional personality. They have a very low threshold for feeling hurt and cannot cope with criticism. Any criticism is perceived as an attack on their already perfect standards and they are left feeling out of control. To avoid such criticism, they spend a long time making the ‘correct’ decision or remain indecisive and exercise extreme caution to avoid failure. This results in rumination and fixation and can cause deep hatred, anger and sadness.”

To that, I would also add that criticism results in avoidance, at least for me. Avoidance of working further. Trying not to ruminate, so therefore avoiding. And I tell ya — neither are good in the long run. But then again, do everything in moderation.

a list of beliefs that people with OCPD already have — before receiving a piece of feedback

  • my worth comes directly from my work
  • my way or the highway
  • an attack on my work is an attack on me as a person
  • perfectionism — not only in my work but my life, each day / each day should be a good day

Receiving criticism and not having a healthy way to cope actually further solidifies our beliefs in our minds. It exacerbates our problem with OCPD.

Here’s how:

See the cycle?

ok, let’s talk coping strategies

Just a reminder: developing strategies for yourself, instead of thinking you’ll find the right one for you from this blog post. But I’ll provide some of my strategies in hopes of sparking ideas for you:

talkbacks (in your mind) & at the ready

  • so it goes
  • i’ve heard worse
  • it hurt my ego, but never my soul (big magic)
  • i work to live, i don’t live to work
  • literally who cares
  • i’d hate to know what you’d say to someone less awesome than i (*chuckles*)
  • nobody died

responses (to others)

  • “i am appreciative of this feedback” (allows u to practice coping; you don’t have to TAKE the feedback if your way is still better)
  • various facial expressions
  • a nod
  • a nod & raising the corner (add the lips if it feels appropriate)
  • the “sure sure mhm sure sure right” – mom talking to her friend on the phone.
  • the classic grace helbig coping mechanism that will solve any problem. Yeah, watch the video for a demonstration.

have you thought about it the other way?

Before leaving, I want to encourage you to flip this scenario on its head.

Tell me, if you criticize or comment on a person’s work, does that mean that you think less of them… AS A PERSON?

I’m sure you know that the answer is no — or that it at least should be no. (If the answer is yes, you likely have more topics to explore within yourself.)

So, think about this next time you think that someone’s comment about your work somehow chips away at your character and sense of self.

P.S. in case we haven’t met…

you seem normal is a mental health medium run by 24-year-old communication professional (hello!) who… well, seems normal.  Turns out, my roommate is mental illness. Actually more like my unborn, and non-conceived baby. Because it’s like, inside of me. This is getting weird already. Topics of focus: self-awareness (we love it), mood, anger management, perfectionism, relationships & boundaries.

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