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Sore spot

Sore spot

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes

Dear Ingrid

Richard (26): “I can’t take criticism. If someone makes comments on my behaviour or achievements, I go on the defence. This takes a lot of energy and I don’t make many friends that way.

Ingrid: If a remark made by someone else can throw you off balance so easily, then that has something to do with your past. At such a moment, your ‘sore spot’, created years ago, is triggered. Maybe your mother or father commented on everything you did and there was hell to pay for if you put a foot wrong. That was a tough time for you. Their endless comments created a sensitive spot inside you, which stands for ‘I’m not good enough’ or something like that. Criticism touches this spot and it hurts.

This can of worms is opened when someone makes a comment. You hear, as it were, your father’s or mother’s voice and the soreness comes to the surface. The pain doesn’t have much to do with the comment made by the person concerned. If you are not aware of this, you will go on the defence. You want to show them that you are good enough. The annoying part is that the person giving feedback, who has no knowledge of your past, will be unpleasantly surprised. Chances are that he or she will be disappointed or even shocked, and will keep distance because of this. This in turn confirms your conviction that you are not good enough and you have come full circle. This behaviour of yours keeps your sore spot large and sensitive.

Try to realise that the other person is not your father or your mother. His or her comment doesn’t mean that you are not good enough. Maybe you can use it to your advantage. You can only do so if you take the time to look at the comments from all angles and not to brush them aside immediately. Do it when the pain has eased, because pain clouds our view and then we say things that are not helpful.

Ingrid Candel

Would you like to ask Ingrid Candel a question (you may do so anonymously)? Send an e-mail to

Do you have any questions or problems and would you like to speak with a psychological counsellor for students from Maastricht University, contact or call 043 3885388.



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