How to Handle Criticism
To be strong on an emotional level you need to make something very clear in your mind. That is, things are going to affect us to the extent we give them the power to do so.
In other words, neither people nor facts have the ability to harm us, because there is no direct link between external events and my emotions. Whether I’m okay or not mood-wise is always determined by what I’m telling myself at that moment.
In the same sense, when someone criticizes me, judges me or thinks something negative about me, they are simply exerting their right to think, evaluate or value. But that doesn’t mean that it defines me.
“He who gets angry over criticism is admitting that he earned it.”
Others don’t offend you, you offend yourself
Other people’s thoughts are theirs, and only if I believe in them and make them my own will I allow them to affect or offend me.
Therefore, it’s me, through my inner dialogue about reality, who’s provoking my suffering. It’s not others who offend me; I offend myself and I choose to be offended by what others think of me.
This principle is very important in order to know how to manage criticism calmly, since it gives us the key to escape the prison of suffering and unrest.
We can’t control or change what happens externally, but we can always modify the way we interpret things. That’s where our power lies. We can decide to be the ruler of our emotions. We control them. They don’t control us.
And many of you may think: It’s unfair for me to be criticized about something I’m not or that I haven’t done! And here I welcome you to the world and to life itself. They are both unfair by definition, but with many other beautiful things to provide you.
What keys can I follow to handle criticism appropriately?
The first and most important thing is to know, love, and accept yourself unconditionally. If you know who you are, no matter how much others may voice their opinions, it’ll be impossible for you to care in the slightest. Since it won’t make you doubt who you are as a person. You’re already sure of yourself. You accept yourself as you are.
Understanding that the other person has the right to say, think, criticize, judge and evaluate whatever they may please. And no matter how angry you get, you can’t change that. What others think about you is none of your business.
Besides, you don’t have the power to influence the other person or make them change their way of thinking. Therefore, it’s useless to have a negative and disproportionate reaction. Because the only thing it’ll lead to is the other person criticizing you even more.
You have to be open to listening to everyone. Criticism can sometimes teach you lessons and help you grow. When you react to a critique, be calm, both verbally and non verbally. You shouldn’t respond with sarcasm, superiority or aggressive facial expressions. That only shows them that their criticism matters to you and has affected you. And you give the other person the idea that what they think about you matters more to you than what you think about yourself.
Look the other person in the eye calmly, but without challenging them, keep a relaxed and confident posture and express to them that they have the right to think about you the way they do, though you don’t agree with them and think differently.
The key is to not start arguing, but rather accept without agreeing. Is it easy? Not at all. We haven’t been taught to be rational, nor to accept ourselves unconditionally regardless of what others think. We are influenced to be affected by “what others might think” and to act against what we desire in order to not be judged.
But regardless, we can learn to manage the criticism in a calm way if we eagerly practice what we’ve been talking about here today, until the day comes when you’re able to really say to yourself: what others think about me is just that, thoughts.