from the


from the Top of the Mind


from the
Top of the Mind

“Dr. Crawford’s presentation was the highlight of the conference and a much needed reminder for all of us (especially nurses) to keep it all balanced. Bill’s psychology background surely protruded through his messages and I know it was well-received by all!”

Nancy Perovic, RN, BSN
University Of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, IL

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Dealing with Criticism

I have chosen this quote for our weekly connection because it has the potential to give those of us who are wanting to create a more purposeful experience of life a nice perspective on those who criticize us.

I certainly experience this as a speaker, because almost every time I do a presentation, I get rated from 1 to 5 on content, applicability, and presentation skills. I’m proud to say that most of my evaluations are 5’s, however, there will be an occasional low score from time to time, and I have to remind myself to be purposeful with respect to how important I make this person, or how much value and validity I give to the score.

I don’t want to ignore constructive feedback because we all can always improve on what we do. However, what I don’t want to do is ruminate on this low score and have it interfere with my peace of mind. That’s why I find this week’s quote to be so helpful. As a speaker with over 30 years of experience, I can generally tell when someone is engaged and enjoying the presentation, and that means I that I also generally have a pretty good idea of the person who gave me a low score.

In these cases, I try to remember to ask myself, “Would I go to this person for advice on either the topic or how to deliver a powerful presentation?” Nine times out of ten, the answer is, “No.”

Of course, this doesn’t make the feeling of resentment totally go away, and, therefore, I have to go deeper and ask myself what part of my brain is hanging on to these negative feelings, and is this a part of the brain I want to trust to guide my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors going forward?

For those of you who follow my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy, you know that the part of the brain that tends to trigger and hang on to our negative feelings is the middle brain, or limbic system. The prime directive of this part of the brain is to keep us safe and alive as a specie and, therefore, it tends to pay more attention to negative information than positive. This works great when we are dealing with a truly dangerous situation, but not so great when we are dealing with criticism.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that we can use the upper 80% of our brain (the neocortex, what I call the “Top of the Mind”) to determine whether we want to trust this middle brain to guide us. Much like the question, “Should I take criticism from someone I wouldn’t go to for advice?” We can also ask, “Do I really want to trust this old, reactive part of my brain to determine how I feel and what I do?” and/or, “Would I recommend this way of thinking to someone that I love?”

Most people report that these sorts of questions can bring a tremendous amount of clarity about who and what to trust as we go about creating our experience of life.

Therefore, if you find yourself being criticized and feeling resentful as a result, it might be helpful to determine whether you would indeed go to the person who is criticizing you for advice, and whether you really want to trust the part of the brain that is hanging on to that resentment as a guide in your life?

If the answer is a resounding “No!,” then I suggest that you switch from trying to avoid the problem to practicing a solution. In other words, who are the people in your life that you respect, and, therefore, would go to for advice, and what would they say about the situation? Further, if you were looking at the situation in a way that you would teach or recommend to someone that you love, what would your advice be? Or, how would you suggest they either learn from or move on from the situation?

In other words, what if we could learn to trust the best people we know and the best of who we are to guide our thoughts, feelings, and behavior going forward? Not a bad recipe for creating the life we want, don’t you think?

~ All the best, Dr. Bill

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