This was first published on KSL.Com
I enjoy reading your articles on KSL, thank you for your insights on life, they are very helpful. I've had a situation that I'm wondering if you might have some advice on. Last night my in-laws came over, without warning, and said they wanted to talk to us about something. They then expressed concern that our son wasn't getting enough attention and that I needed to spend more time with my son.
We're still very confused and pretty hurt about this criticism. We feel like they overstepped their bounds. They are on business trips every other week and we don’t even see them much anymore. So, I'm not sure how they can think that we don't give our son enough attention. Additionally, I am working full-time and in graduate school, doing the very best I can to spend quality time with my son, so it was especially hard for me to hear them express these feelings. What do you suggest we can do about the situation? How can we heal from the pain this has caused us?
I think they may have overstepped too. If they wanted to give you some feedback or advice, they should have asked permission first. That might have been a more respectful approach. They could have asked if you'd be open to some observations or suggestions around your parenting and given you the chance to say "yes" or "no."
Unsolicited advice can sometimes be construed as an insult. So, it's understandable that you were offended to some degree. The problem, however, is that being offended isn’t going to serve you, your son, or your in-laws in any way.
I’d like to suggest another way to process this situation or any situation where you receive hurtful feedback because this can happen to any one of us.
The next time you receive hurtful feedback or criticism from someone, try following these steps:
— See if there is any merit or something you could learn or improve on. Is the feedback warranted and could you do better in any way? You can always look for a lesson in the experience even if you don’t think it’s accurate.
— Consider the other person's agenda in giving you the feedback.
— Read some of my past articles on forgiveness and work on seeing them as imperfect, struggling, scared students in the classroom of life — just like you. Remember, they have the same intrinsic value as you no matter what they do or say.
— Understand forgiveness becomes easier when you choose to see every experience as one meant to help you grow. If you begin to see them as perfect learning opportunities, then you may begin to see the people involved as your perfect teachers. Those teachers might push your buttons or bring up your fears and weaknesses to the surface so that you can work on them. This can be a painful process, but it's still here to serve you.
Hopefully, this process will help you see your in-laws as well-intentioned and help you let the part you consider insulting to roll off. I see these insults as poison darts — you can choose to let them hit you and hurt you or you can let them bounce off your force field of love, truth and wisdom. I recommend you let them bounce off and don’t suffer from them anymore.
If your in-laws do this kind of thing often, you might want to ask permission to give them some feedback. If they agree and are open, explain that you consider unsolicited feedback as an insult and you would appreciate them asking permission the next time they have some for you.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a popular executive life coach and speaker. Check out her articles on forgiveness at https://coachkimgiles.weebly.com/apps/search?q=forgiveness and learn about becoming a life coach at www.claritypointcoaching.com
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.