Sometimes people around you, armed with the best intentions, create in you an enormous sense of guilt. These people, who have no psychological background and sometimes also lack empathy, believe they’re doing it for “your own good”. However, their critics are not directed at your behavior but to who you are. They don’t criticize your attitude or what you do but who you are. And that ends up damaging your self-esteem, until you finally apologize for being who you are. Thinking there’s something bad or wrong with you.
Scusate se esisto! (Sorry for existing)
“Scusate se esisto!” (Sorry for existing!) Is a 2014 Italian movie directed by Riccardo Milani starring Paola Cortellesi and Raoul Bova. Broadly speaking, is the story of a young Italian architect who has a brilliant career in London but decided to return to his native country. In a city and a profession where men have the power, than she chose to pretend to be a male architect to design a project that she loves.
The funny thing is that the movie has an autobiographical tinge, is based on the experiences of one of the most famous female Italian architects: Guendalina Salimei, who had to swim upstream in a world dominated mostly by men. The actress, Paola Cortellesi, stated: “I’m an actress and sometimes I find myself in meetings where I am the only woman, sometimes I have the feeling of being transparent. When they have to approve some of my ideas, the caller always looks at a man in search for approval. I felt really identified with the character”.
And the character spends much of the time of the movie with the type of attitude of who says: “sorry for existing”. Attitudes and opinions of those around her make her think she’s not good enough, that there is something wrong with her, that she shouldn’t be there and should not think as she does.
Undoubtedly, it’s a feeling that perhaps you experienced sometime, feeling strange or inappropriate. Perhaps those criticisms even led you to apologize, without really knowing why, as a reflex.
Obviously, it’s not a pleasant feeling.
Nobody can understand your trip if he never walked on your way
Despite affection or empathy, the truth is that nobody can understand our way if never walked in our shoes. People around us may know our history but have not experienced our emotions on their own skin. Therefore, what they think about us is their reality, not ours.
Our personality, our way of being, has been shaped over the years by dint of joys and sorrows. We are what we are because of what we have been. Therefore, a person can criticize our behaviors and attitudes and even suggest another way of doing things, but we must not let him judge our personality and our essence.
Critics directed to the person aren’t constructive, are all small cracks added to your self-esteem which, if not well underpinned, could wobble and fall. So, if you want to shield your self-esteem, it is important to learn to distinguish between those critics directed to the behavior and those to the person.
“I was angry when you raised your voice” or “I didn’t like you arrived late at the appointment” are critics to behaviors. Critics that must be heard and taken into account if we want to grow and improve our social relationships.
“You’re irrational, it’s impossible to talk with you” or “You’re always late, you’re an irresponsible” are critics directed to the person, involving a wrong generalization and denoting a deep anger and a loss of perspective. Such criticism should be considered with special care.
Authenticity is the way
If you end up listening to others, you will end up living the life they want, not yours. If you feel confused or unsure and give credit to destructive or malicious criticism, you will end up losing your identity and one day, when you look inside yourself, you won’t recognize what you see. You’d lost your passions and dreams.
So, while it’s true that we all have different areas where we can improve and grow, areas in which we can learn from others to mature, we shouldn’t let others make us feel bad enough to apologize for who we are. Authenticity is always the way.
Remember the teaching of Fritz Perls:
I do my thing and you do yours.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
and you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other,
then it is beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.
In fact, the best part is that when you gain self-esteem and authenticity, you’re not the only a winner but also those around you. Grow, mature, learn … but do not apologize for who you are.