How to Handle Criticism

I like approval. I like when people tell me I do a good job. I like when people tell me that I make a difference. I like when people believe in me, appreciate my actions, and respect my decisions.

I am not a fan of criticism.

I’m guessing you can relate.

When someone second-guesses you, questions your choices, doesn’t support you, and disagrees with you, it’s hard! It rocks the boat.

What do you do with criticism? How do you work with it, instead of letting it crush you?

Here’s some things to keep in mind when it comes to criticism:

1. Criticism can show us where we need to grow.

I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. We are not above criticism. We have room for growth, places that we can improve, and weaknesses. There’s areas in our lives where the people we care about need more from us. There’s times in our lives where our work is asking for more effort. There’s situations in life that we have to just do a better job. And it is criticism that points exactly where that growth has to happen. You need to ask yourself: Do I get bitter or do I get better?

2. Criticism might not have anything to do with you.

If a person disapproves of you, it could be evidence of their own insecurities, their own doubts, and their own weaknesses. It could be that they’re jealous, frustrated, or hurting. It could be that they are making their fears and desires known to you in the only way they know how. If you feel this is the case, don’t withdraw into your own hurt. Instead soften your heart and reach out to them.

3. Criticism shouldn’t go against its own goal.

True criticism comes from a place of care and concern, love and respect. Criticism, at its best, is designed to help the other person grow. Growth, deeper connection, relationship, betterment - these are the goals of criticism. Unkind criticism can lead to damage, hurt and disconnection, which is directly counter to criticism. If someone can’t give you criticism kindly, is it worth listening to?

4. Criticism can’t reach inside you.

Ultimately you get to decide how you handle criticism - just as you decide how you handle any challenge. Criticism can’t make you feel angry, hurt, annoyed or, anything else. If criticism is pushing your buttons, those are your buttons, and you need to find out what is really the problem - the criticism, or your own self-doubt?

5. Take a look in the mirror.

Now that you know a bit more about criticism, take a look at yourself and how you give criticism to others. Do you do it with love? Do you give it kindly, with growth and connection in mind? Do you use it to mask your own hurt?

Learning to handle criticism well, with grace and growth is a skill. I’m still working on it. Will you join me?

Here’s to Conquering Stress,

The Stress Experts

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