By Fareeha Qay­oom


oday, a funny thing hap­pened. I met an old col­league of mine by chance. He had dropped by at my cur­rent work­place to look up old co-workers and friends and play catch up as he was in town; (he lives and works in Karachi now). He was rem­i­nisc­ing as you tend to do when you meet old friends. My name came up by chance (in a nice con­text!) and one of my newer col­leagues told him, “Guess what! Fareeha is work­ing here too!” So, he decided to look me up as well…you know what sur­prised me? He had appar­ently been prais­ing me behind my back. (Yes, I know, peo­ple tell me all the time, “Fareeha, you are so neg­a­tive!”) I am so used to putting up with con­stant stream of crit­i­cism from peo­ple all around me (friends and fam­ily, bosses and co-workers) that a lit­tle praise caught me off-guard! :D


Wheels within wheels

I get these lit­tle put-downs all the time, “Fareeha! You are so neg­a­tive” or words that mean the same thing “Fareeha! You have loads of bag­gage!” when­ever I make a real­is­tic obser­va­tion about human nature! “Fareeha! You are so bru­tally hon­est!” when­ever I am being accu­rate and fac­tual, “Fareeha! You have no tact!” when asked for my opin­ion, I give it; “Fareeha! OMG! You can’t do (math)! It’s so easy!” when­ever I am asked to per­form a com­pli­cated math func­tion that is appar­ently so easy that only I can do it who doesn’t under­stand math and the per­son who thinks it’s so easy can’t, “Fareeha! Don’t be so book­ish! Get real!” when­ever I offer advice in favor of doing the right thing! “Fareeha! Why don’t you lose some weight?”, “Fareeha! OMG, do you know there are at least four egg yolks in a lemon tart?” When­ever I am appar­ently enjoy­ing my food and they can’t because they are on a diet, “Fareeha! You are so wrong! You don’t know what you are talk­ing about!” When­ever I am asked for a com­ment based on my expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge and I the poor unfor­tu­nate mug offer it in good faith! On and on it goes…even when friends appar­ently praise me, it sounds more like ver­bal abuse…it’s bet­ter to bite your tongue than open your mouth in such hos­tile envi­ron­ment. It only invites trou­ble. So mostly I keep my mouth shut if I pos­si­bly can help it.

Even blog­ging invites ver­bal abuse. Today, I was told in pass­ing, “blog­ging is so easy, cre­ate a web­site and start writ­ing –there are so many blog­gers out there now!” For a minute there I didn’t know how to take this com­ment, because the per­son who made it knows that I blog, besides, the com­ment was totally unre­lated to the sub­ject under dis­cus­sion! :D (Yes, prob­a­bly you want to join the band­wagon too and say, “Fareeha! You are so para­noid!”).

Peo­ple who like to crit­i­cize you tell you, it’s for your own good. You should be able to take a lit­tle con­struc­tive crit­i­cism. That’s how you grow. The funny thing is, the so-called advice never empow­ers you – it dimin­ishes you. The crit­i­cism in any case is sup­posed to put you in your place, what­ever, that is, in the abusers mind. It’s never about you, it’s about them.  As Steven Stosny says in his blog post titled Anger in the age of enti­tle­ment, “Neg­a­tive labels in the form of nouns, adjec­tives, or crit­i­cism, like all forms of abuse, are more auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal than descrip­tive — they tell you more about the peo­ple who use them than those they are meant to describe. They tell you whom to avoid if you want a coop­er­a­tive work­place or if you long for love with­out hurt.”

Me, I don’t take crit­i­cism per­son­ally or indeed seri­ously. If I did, I would have no self-confidence and be a men­tal wreck in no time flat. ■

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Crit­i­cism – a sub­tle form of abuse, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rat­ing