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man getting upset about being criticised

4 ways to stop criticism from hurting

No-one enjoys being criticised or from negative and hurtful comments (or the fear of them) often prevent you from doing things you really want to. You might ask yourself ‘What if people don’t like my idea?’ or ‘What if I fail and everyone sees?’...

The thing about achieving anything much worthwhile in life is that it, to some degree, involves us sticking our necks out and standing out from the herd. It is so important yet doing this can often leave us feeling exposed.

How do you use feedback? Find out with this short quiz.

Find your Trusted Loved Ones (TLO)

TLO’s are people in our lives who we can be totally open with, sharing our deepest fears and who will respect us as well as be honest with us. You may have 1-4 of these people in your life. These are the people whose opinions really count. They know you well, love you and respect you. These people are your criticism filters, when you have received some criticism you can go to them and ask ‘Is this valid? Do they have a point?’. Often criticism is received from people who don’t really know us or are dumping their own stuff on us, so TLO’s help sort out what we need to hear from what is, basically, someone else’s rubbish.

Don’t ignore it

Ignoring criticism isn’t actually possible, once you’ve heard it or seen it it’s there. So work through a piece of criticism rather than pretending to ignore it, if you don’t it will just stay locked up inside you, controlling your behaviour and emotions. Avoid being defensive or arguing with someone who is critical, this just compounds your negative feelings (and gives the other person power over you). 
Say ‘thanks, I’ll think about that’, or ‘I’ll consider what you’ve said’, or even ask for clarity if it doesn’t make sense to you. As we often say ‘Don’t get furious, get curious’. When you approach criticism with curiosity rather than defensiveness you can easily work through what there really is, if anything, in this for you to take away. Sometimes our critics can be our most powerful learning opportunities.

Set up a bin in your mind for pointless criticism

We all need somewhere to ‘bin’ criticism that is worthless to us. Actually distinguishing what is and isn’t valid is easier than you might think. It’s another way of processing criticism and is not the same as ignoring it, you are considering it based on a set of criteria and deciding if it is worthless to you.

You can create your own set of criteria, here are some of ours to get you started:

Anyone who criticised you anonymously

People who don’t put their name to their opinions, who are not willing to be identified as the critic, those opinions should go straight in the bin. I’m not talking about whistle blowing or sensitive issues here where anonymity is important, I’m talking about online posts, feedback forms or people who give you second hand criticism ‘someone said something about you and I think you should know…’.

Any criticism about your appearance or identity

No-one has the right to criticise how you look or you as a person. I’m a member of many online forums and I’m shocked at how many people make fun of, or criticise people personally or how they look. When people do this is says more about them than you.

Remember - criticism is only constructive if it is useful - to you. Otherwise it’s more about the person saying it. Anything worth doing is not going to be universally popular. In fact nothing is universally popular. All great ideas have their critics, don’t let fear of it get in your way.

Watch this short video on handling people who violate your boundaries.

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