We spoke a bit about criticism last week, and how difficult it is to receive negative criticism. Today, let’s dig a little bit deeper into how we handle that negative criticism when we can’t avoid it. It’s more about shifting the perception than trying to ignore the entire situation.
How you respond to other people’s criticism depends, to a great extent, on how critical you are of yourself. If you were raised by critical parents, who caused you to believe that making mistakes was just about the worst thing you could do, you probably have a hard time when other people criticize you now that you are grown.
That’s because you have internalized your parents’ critical voices and have developed a harsh critical voice of your own. When your self-esteem is low, it’s especially painful to be criticized by others because it activates all your own feelings of worthlessness.
But now that you’re a grown up, it’s time to look at the beliefs you have about yourself and get rid of the ones that are keeping you down and making you feel unworthy. It is time to remind yourself, over and over again if need be, that it’s OK to make mistakes. Everybody does it once in a while. In fact, trial and error is one of the most effective ways we learn.
Once you realize making mistakes is not such a big deal, you free yourself to look at the criticism you are getting from others and ask yourself if it’s justified. If it’s not, you can just shrug it off. If it is, you have the opportunity learn from it. You can apologize if you’ve behaved badly and state your intention to do better next time without groveling, feeling humiliated or engaging in angry retaliation.
You can take responsibility for your strengths and for your weaknesses without making yourself a victim and without judging or blaming others or yourself. Learning more about one’s inner self, and understanding the underlying causes, only makes us stronger.