By: Kathy
May 10, 2011

It is hard to hear the truth.  Period.  No one wants to hear “You’re critical.”, “You’re hard to talk to.”, “You’re manipulative like your mother!”, “You’re selfish.”, “You’re not being a very attentive father.”   These are truths that bring up immediate defensiveness because if they ARE true about us, then it opens a whole other truth that is far too painful to face – ‘I’m not a good person’, or maybe ‘my dad was right and I AM a loser’, or ‘I am not good enough’.  Teachability is about hearing the truth from our loved ones without allowing ourselves to be sucked into the pain of our deepest fears about ourselves.

Teachability is one of the 5 traits necessary to be successful in counseling.  In fact, if you want to get healthy and have healthy, fulfilling relationships, hearing the truth about yourself is absolutely imperative!  Let’s face it, none of us are perfect.  Facing the fact that we are not perfect is essential to self-love; and self-love is essential to our ability to be healthy in our relationships.  Far too many of us, however, have constructed walls around ourselves that simply will not allow us to hear about our imperfections.  And why not?  What does it say about you if your partner says you are critical?  Think about it.  What is the deep meaning you take away from that statement?  Does that mean you are a horrible person?  A loser?  Your angry, critical father?  It doesn’t have to mean any of those things!  It can simply mean that you are prone to point out the negative and not excellent at drawing attention to the positive.  And what if you ARE like your angry, critical father?  So what?  Knowing that people see you that way can inspire you to pay attention to your behavior and begin to change it.  This not only benefits your partner, it benefits YOU!  If you begin to make positive changes to yourself, you will have much more fulfilling relationships.

In my own counseling, I left many times with my tail between my legs!  It was very hard to hear some of the messages about myself, especially in front of my spouse, but the truth is, there was some element of truth to the painful observations about me and I needed to take a good hard look at how I was behaving.  Hearing those truths, as painful as it was, has helped me to improve myself as a spouse, as a mother, as a friend, as a counselor, and more importantly, as a person.

How teachable are you?  Can you hear the truth about yourself?  The pain you feel from hearing about your shortcomings is justified – it smarts for sure, but growth was never meant to be painless!  If you want to live a happy, healthy life, free from drama and pain, you’ve got to be able to take a good, hard look in the mirror.  In my experience, people who reject feedback quickly and heartily are seldom successful in counseling.  Those people who brace themselves and push through the pain and really hear feedback are generally the ones who make positive changes and begin to experience more fulfilling lives.