How to Overcome the Fear of Being Criticized

· December 11, 2018

Have you ever felt judged? How did that make you feel? You may have developed a fear of being criticized after a difficult situation. No one likes being judged, especially when people judge us regarding something that’s tough for us to digest.

However, there are different types of criticism. Not all criticism is bad and it’s vital to keep that in mind. For example, constructive criticism can help us improve in many aspects of our life. Although we may not always be receptive to it, it’s important to take constructive criticism into consideration in order to grow as people.

Fear of being criticized

When people criticize us, we see it as a personal attack. Some people take judgment as something hurtful and even embarrassing. This can make them be on the defensive because they want to protect themselves.

Woman helping a friend.

Have you ever stopped to think the reason why someone told you what they did? There must be a reason! Instead of immediately being on the defensive, you should stop and think about the reason why that person is criticizing you and what you can learn from it.

If you calm down and set the record straight, you may see that criticism can help you improve several aspects of your behavior and thought processes.

On the other hand, the other person may be wrong. If you’re dealing with this case, the important thing is to speak your mind assertively instead of agreeing with everything that the other person says just so that they don’t judge you. Doing this can make them feel as if they can manipulate you into thinking whatever they want and lower your self-esteem.

Accepting criticism appropriately is beneficial

The first step to help you lose your fear of being criticized is learning to accept criticism. This is something you can achieve by reacting calmly before a judgment. The advantages of keeping your cool when someone criticizes you are:

  • You learn to control your negative emotions.
  • You don’t feel attacked.
  • This also helps you learn to detach your self-esteem from it.
Worried man looking down.

Staying calm when someone criticizes you can help you assimilate criticism more efficiently. This has many advantages:

  • It allows you to evaluate if the judgment is true and useful or if the person’s just trying to manipulate you.
  • If it’s useful, you can learn from it and not spoil your relationship with that person.
  • If it’s useful but the person didn’t express it correctly, you can show them the right way to say things.
  • Criticism may be an attempt at manipulation. In that case, keeping your cool will make the other person feel uneasy.
  • By not filling yourself with rage, you don’t show our weaknesses.
  • If you stay calm, you reassure yourself that you’re the master of your own behavior. If you’ve made a mistake, don’t be afraid to tell it like it is. If you haven’t, though, politely confirm it. If the other person continues to argue, be careful to not fall into their trap.
  • This allows us to succeed in an unpleasant situation.

“Wise people prefer to benefit from constructive criticism rather than be ruined by false praise.”

-Shiv Khera-

What negative thoughts interfere with overcoming the fear of being criticized?

There are several thoughts that may go against you when you try to face your fear of being criticized. Modifying these thoughts will allow you to stop caring so much about criticism.

Thoughts about yourself

“I messed up again, I’m such a mess!” “I’m so embarrassed, I failed once again”. By thinking this way, you believe that you have to be the best at everything and that you’re a failure if you ever make a mistake.

You should change these thoughts for rational ones such as: “I think I made a mistake, but first I’m going to check what I did wrong. I have the right to make mistakes. This doesn’t make me a bad person, it only makes me human”.

Woman who has a fear of being judged.

Thoughts about the situation

“This is such an uncomfortable and humiliating situation. I can’t handle this, I must leave.” Now, the belief behind this statement is that things always have to be easy and comfortable. They must go the way you’ve planned.

However, this would be the rational thought: “This situation is uncomfortable, there’s no doubt about it. But do I really have to run away? Wouldn’t it be better if I faced it?” It’s important that you don’t make running away your first option when things get tough. Remember that difficult situations are the ones that can make you grow.

Thoughts about the other person

“You’re humiliating me. All you want to do is expose my faults.” This makes you believe that bad people deserve to be punished. Also, this makes you believe that others must always give you what you want and need. If they don’t, they’re useless to you.

You can change that thought and make it a more rational one. For example: “I can’t read people’s mind so I can’t really know their true intentions. What if they just want to mess with me? If that’s the case, I must remember that people aren’t always the way they should be. I’m not perfect either”.

As you can see, it’s possible to overcome your fear of being criticized. In order to do it, though, you must modify certain thoughts so you can accept criticism and react calmly before it.

“The more one judges, the less one loves.”

-Honoré de Balzac-