7 Tips to Stop Taking Criticism So Personally
It’s tough to deal with critics—even sometimes when they mean well. Whether it comes from a family member you’ve known your whole life or from a complete stranger on the internet, any expression of disapproval geared toward you and your actions can be enough to turn your day from awesome to rotten.
For many people, telling themselves “I’m fine” often isn’t enough to get them to shrug it off and push forward. If that includes you, then some of these tips might help.
1. Stop and focus your awareness on your emotions before you react.
Emotions often get the best of people when they’re criticized about something, causing them to sink deep into their own guilt and shame until they’re too far gone, or perhaps react by even lashing out at the critic in defense of themselves. Instead, take a moment to just notice and accept what’s going on in your mind. This is one of the first steps you can take toward making peace with the situation and avoiding further conflict.
2. Try to see yourself from the critic’s perspective.
Most people who are subjected to criticism often aren’t aware that it’s really not about them and their faults at all. If someone feels the need to go out of their way to point out what they don’t like about you or what you did, particularly when it’s done in a hostile and invaluable way, it’s almost always a reflection of their own insecurities, laziness and purposelessness in life. Sometimes other people will try to bring you down as a way to prop themselves up a bit in their own minds.
3. Aim to separate outright rudeness from valuable feedback.
Not all criticism is bad. Constructive criticism is a necessary part of life that helps us grow and become better, but it requires an open mind to identify and accept. Some critics may as well just be huge trolls who decide to take their negative feelings out on you, and it’s important to recognize that and leave it. Others, on the other hand, may be legitimately helpful in speaking the truth, and that’s the kind of criticism that’s worth your time and attention.
4. Look for the lesson.
Whether criticism comes in the form of rudeness or valuable feedback, looking for the lesson in it can help you understand why it doesn’t make sense to take it so personally. That lesson will be unique to your interpretation of it and the situation you’re in, but as an example, you could interpret someone’s rudeness as a lesson in needing to strengthen your own positive thinking. Alternatively, constructive criticism may help you realize that there are lots of people around you willing to help, and that you should ask for help more often.
5. Ask yourself why criticism makes you feel so insecure, and figure out what you can do about it.
When you feel your self-confidence drop after being criticized, what’s actually is happening is that you’re secretly worrying that you agree with your critic. Rather than get all worked up over it, ask yourself why you feel the way you do. What might be the reasoning behind why you might agree with them? And what are some of the actions you can take to ensure you’ll feel more confident the next time you’re subjected to such criticism?
6. Remember that criticism doesn’t change the reality of your situation.
Criticism comes in the form of personal opinions, but it doesn’t change anything about you or the situation itself. Just because someone expressed their disapproval over something you did doesn’t mean that it was good before, and now it’s definitely bad. When you learn to separate personal opinions from reality, it helps ground yourself in realizing that nothing really changed at all.
7. Remind yourself that it’s better to focus your time on what moves you forward than what holds you back.
Doing everything you can to avoid criticism isn’t the answer. Instead, get clear about your purpose and recognize what’s really worth your attention—regardless of whether you’ll be criticized for it or not. Allowing your mind to run wild so that it obsesses over any criticism you do receive will no doubt leave you feeling stuck and hopeless. The people who achieve the most aren’t necessarily immune to taking criticism personally—they just know it’s not worth their time and energy to focus on it.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to accomplish so much more than you ever thought you could, without worrying so much about letting everyone in the entire world down.
Photo Credit: Maddy Photography