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In my youth I was a master in dealing with criticism. It would not affect me at all. In fact, I found it rather amusing. This was when I was a young kid though…
I remember cheering in class when I got the lowest grade in exams. If someone would tell me I wouldn’t amount to anything I laughed at it. And if people didn’t like me and let this be know to me I figured there must be something wrong with them…
I was kind of a problem child, mind you…
Later on in life however, this dealing with criticism became a huge problem for me. Due to developed social anxiety and my irrational, negative beliefs I felt attacked every time I got criticized.
I would become angry and would think the nastiest thoughts about the person or people who criticized me. I had developed a very unhealthy and unproductive way of thinking about, and dealing with criticism.
I felt attacked as a person when it happened. I believed it meant that these people must not like me to be so nasty to me. I felt that if they criticized me for one little thing it must be that they were out to get me.
When I got put down publicly for something I said or did I felt humiliated. And I would blush intensely. This made me furious for days, sometimes weeks. I couldn’t easily overcome it and forgiving the person seemed absurd to me at the time.
I had these problems dealing with criticism because I had the wrong ideas in my mind about what it meant when people would critique me. I felt it was an attack on my character. I just had no idea about how to handle it properly.
Does any of the above sounds familiar to you?
You know, since then a lot changed. Or, better said, I changed a lot. Or if I can be even more precise, I changed what criticism meant to me. I changed my beliefs about it and I dealt with my negative emotions regarding how to feel about someone criticizing my behavior.
In the article below I will give you the steps on how you can become a master in dealing with criticism as well. This will help you to stay calm, take in the information and comfortable respond in a mature way.
It’s all in how you interpret what the critique means to you. You can see critique as an attack, you can see it as the other person having issues or you can see it as feedback. This is your own choice.
Below are some facts about criticism:
It’s not YOU By that I mean that in dealing with criticism you have to see the critique separate from your identity. The critique is not about your worth as a person. It is just the behavior you are displaying that you get critiqued on.
Someone told me the other day that I was mean. Now I don’t see this as an attack on my identity, but just as how the person observed my behavior at that time. I might have been mean in that specific moment, but that doesn’t mean that I am mean by nature.
So it’s your behavior, not who you are.
It’s THEM! OK, I only wrote that to sound childish… It’s not always them of course, sometimes it is indeed you.
But a lot of the time it’s them!
They might be in a bad mood or they might feel frustrated. Or they might be envious or jealous of you.
And if you relate it to yourself and now think about your own life…
Are you more likely to criticize people when you are feeling bad, or are you less likely to criticize when you feel bad?
It’s a belief system battle You have beliefs about how things work and what is normal in the world. And so do others. If you get critiqued, most of the time this is because there is a difference in how the other person sees the world and how you see it.
I live in a different country than my own. I am used to tease people as I see it as a way of showing affection. Here they see it as insulting. This is simply a difference in belief system.
Accept other people’s beliefs and know that they are not trying to make you feel bad. It’s just their opinion, their way of seeing the world.
By criticism I am not referring to people trying to make you look bad. Or people being out to purposely insult you.
If this happens to you the best thing to do is nothing. You are above this. Don’t play along by responding, you don’t want to lower yourself to their level. Ignore it.
If you don’t respond they lose the fun of it. And feel sorry for them because they are unhappy people. Because truly happy people don’t feel a need to put other people down to feel better about themselves.
Listen Carefully listen to what the critic is saying to you. Get really curious about how they feel and how they think about your behavior.
Then think of how you just acted. Was it really that bad? Or was it according to your own beliefs and values?
The best way to figure out how to do this is to ask yourself if you would criticize someone else behaving the way you did. Be honest here.
If you truly would not criticize yourself then just shrug of the comment and take it in as information. Or say something along the lines of “That’s your opinion. I respect your opinion, but I think otherwise. I think we have to accept that we’re not on the same page here”.
Because that’s what it is, just their opinion, nothing more.
If you would criticize yourself then you are not living according to your own beliefs and values. If this is the case, admit your mistake. Sincerely apologize if necessary and say it won‘t happen again.
Say thanks! A good way to respond to someone is by thanking them for their advice. If the person has a point in critiquing you, then appreciate the feedback. If you were acting like a baby, just say thanks for the advice and don’t do it again in the future. A very mature way of handling criticism. People respect this.
If they however say it in a nasty, disrespectful way you can demand to be respected. Say that you forgive them for being harsh because you’re sure they don’t mean it that way…
…But if they have something to tell you, then they can do this in a normal way.
As said earlier, criticism is all about how you interpret it. You make meaning out of what is being said to you. So always make that meaning positive.
Feedback Interpret what is being said to you as feedback. It’s just information coming out of their mouth, you decide what it means to you.
As a default just think to yourself:
“That is your opinion, thank you very much for giving it. I will see what I can do with it.”
Do all people believe this about me or is it just this person’s opinion?
Delay your reaction When you fall and you know it’s going to be painful there is a short period of you waiting for the pain to come. Emotionally this is there as well.
There is a short second between the stimulus (hearing the critique) and your response. So don’t snap back immediately. Stay calm and choose your response wisely.
Belief system You might have some irrational beliefs regarding dealing with criticism. To uncover these ask yourself:
The beliefs that you get back here you can change. Write the positive, exact opposite on a piece of paper and use them as affirmations.
In the near future there will be a video on this site explaining how to quickly get rid of the limiting beliefs and emotions in regards to how to deal with criticism.
Getting criticism is perfectly normal. Use the strategies above and you will be able to react in a normal, mature way.
And if you are ready to completely overcome your social anxiety NOW, getting coached from the comfort of your own home and the ease of sitting behind your PC, my Skype Coaching Packages where we use the power of EFT is what you are looking for to achieve social confidence in ALL social situations.
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I like to end with a quote:
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.”