Surely you don’t ever struggle with taking constructive criticism personally? Surely you don’t consider yourself open-minded, open-hearted, ready and able to accept even the harshest of feedback until suddenly, you find yourself with wet hair and cold coffee and your pants are feeling tight and the toddler is whining and your husband chooses this precise moment to ask if you can perhaps use the grease splatter next time you fry the bacon?

Surely you wouldn’t snap, surely you wouldn’t suggest that perhaps he make the bacon, perhaps he wake up early, perhaps he set his alarm for 5am to finish his deadlines before the day begins?

Surely you are a better woman than I.


If you ever struggle with this sort of snap, with this sort of sensitivity toward constructive criticism, with this sort of quiet fear that you’re being measured and have come up short, well – here’s a tip a girlfriend of mine swears by:

Consider feedback nothing more than an observation.

We observe hundreds of things each day. We observe the sun rising, the dishwasher running, the paper towel stash dwindling, the wrinkles on our forehead deepening seemingly overnight.

They’re not affronts.
They’re observations.

They do not mean much until we assign them to mean much.

And the assigning is everything.

We can assign meaning to our wrinkles, calling ourselves old.
We can assign meaning to our dwindling paper towel stash, calling ourselves forgetful for failing to remember to restock on our last grocery trip.

And we can assign meaning to a simple grease splatter observation, calling the observer insensitive, callous, impossible to please.

Or we can simply accept it as yet another observation – not feedback, neither positive or negative – but yes, there is bacon grease on the stove, yes, I put it there, and yes, I’ll see what I can do about it next time (and yes, I might forget).

I have always wrongly assumed I am being measured. I have always wrongly assumed that I am a conglomeration of the things I do and the things I say, that there is judgment on the other side of commentary, that perfection is asked of me (required of me?) and that I will always, always fall short.

But an observation is an observation.

Nothing more, nothing less.

And an observer is an observer.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Turns out bacon grease is just bacon grease after all.

  • This. Yes to this. Every day. I’ve always been the “sensitive one” in my family. I like to think I’ve developed a “thicker hide” as I’ve grown older, but there are times when I’ve let observations get the best of me. Thanks for these words!

  • I’m still in the vibe of the amazing meditation retreat I just returned from on Sunday (only Sunday?!), so yes, been there with the snap, hope to NOT snap next time, but it’s okay if I do. There’s no good or bad, there only IS. Makes me feel better in the long run, right?

  • …a quiet fear of being measured and coming up short.

    Ah, yes. Those are the words I couldn’t come up with that describe how I feel.

    So thankful for your words. xo

  • The reality is in us! This remembers me about the Zen class. The perfect quote that came in my mind is: ‘It is not difficult to reach the state. It is difficult to stay there.’

  • I still suffer from the snap, but have gotten much better at identifying it (often even as its coming out of my mouth) and apologizing shortly there after… baby steps :)

  • This is so perfect! Exactly what I have been struggling with lately… Well, all my life! But lately it seems worse. I will keep this in mind the next time someone makes an observation (not a judgement, not a condemnation, though it feels that way!) about me. It is true that other people’s words mean only what we let ourselves think they do. I must remember… “An observation is an observation. Nothing more and nothing less.” Thank you for this!
    Ps. I just discovered your blog and love it already!

    • It’s such a difficult (but worthy!) practice to remove our worth from the conversations around us, yes? Sending hugs your way. :)

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