Criticism, when absorbed effectively, reveals plenty about who we are, who we should become, and in some cases, prompts us to find the closest freeway to escape the toxic people who will do anything to breed depression. But how do we learn to pasteurize criticism and turn it into a healthy tool to help us grow, instead of believing it is something to fear, something to "cope" with?
We learn to love ourselves. We learn to accept that we are not perfect. We learn it is okay to flaw. We gain strength in our achievements. We compliment ourselves and we don't t wait for someone else to step in and do the job for us. And little by little, as we improve ourselves and strengthen our weaknesses, we are better able to filter criticism, taking in the good and throwing out the bad. We get to a point where we don't need somebody else's approval to feel worthy. We have confidence.
We all have a voice that speaks to us. We call it intuition. Our internal strength/confidence determines how effectively we process what our intuition tells us. This is important when dealing with criticism, because we tend to make decisions based on the comments of others. The key to recognizing a person’s intent, most times, is through the delivery of the criticism. If a person is harsh, and blatantly evil in their opinions as they address our so called fallacies, then this person is being judgmental not constructively critical. The best course of action here is to smile and feel sorry for this person. If you are a praying individual, then pray for this person, because he or she is obviously unhappy about something.
A lot of people feel helpless when dealing with criticism because most times, the words come from people so significant in our lives. But the same rules apply to a person berating your job performance as it does to the person condemning you for wearing the wrong color tie or dress. We all deserve a level of respect and we have every right to demand it. If a boss talks down to you, there is nothing wrong with asking to be talked to in a dignified manner. Believe me, if you are a stellar worker, and have proven this over and over, your boss will start respecting you. In future confrontations, the tone in how he or she delivers criticism will turn from condescending to constructive. It all lies in the boundaries we set.
Look at criticism as a way to grow. The more people put you down, allow it to lift you up and make you a stronger person. If you are suffering from self-esteem issues, it is hard to turn criticism around. But criticism is one of those dreaded things that will never disappear; hence, you must get stronger. Find things about yourself that you like most and bring them out in your daily living. If you have bad habits, change them. The more you make yourself a better person, the more armor you will develop when dealing with people that really don’t deserve your time.
Having confidence will also allow you to accept that sometimes, other people are right and you are wrong. This is where maturity comes in. Even when criticism is being delivered in the most condescending, mean fashion, ask yourself if it has any merit. If it does, take heed. But don’t allow it to make you feel bad. Keep your chin up and evaluate the particular situation. You can even tell the criticizer, “Thank you,” and carry on. This doesn’t change the fact that you are a happy person and he or she needs to check the attitude. Remember, the criticizer is the one with the problem - not you. Being respectful is a sign of strength. It also puts you in a better position to demand your respect.
In the end, how much we let criticism affect us comes down to how complete we feel about ourselves. If a person has trouble coping with criticism, this is usually a sign that he or she might believe they deserve to be talked to poorly, or even abused. Take this as a sign that you need to make some changes, because we surely can’t change anybody else but ourselves.