Coping with Criticism

The best foundation for coping healthily with criticism is to have a clear, honest and tolerant understanding of yourself.

“Clear” comes from taking the time work out how and why you fare better at some things and worse in others. The better you know yourself, the easier it is to decide which criticisms to leave as a matter of opinion and which are “a fair cop”.

“Honest” is being able to look frankly and directly at both your strengths and shortcomings. Areas that are left in the dark or covered up remain tender and sensitive so a criticism hitting one of them will hurt more.

“Tolerant” means you can accept that you have imperfections like everyone else but know that they do not define the whole of you or diminish your worth as a person. This is probably the most important of the three because it keeps criticism from being seen as something shameful which only happens to ‘bad’, ‘stupid’ or ‘unlikeable’ people.

If these three factors are present you can think about the criticism more objectively. You might begin by comparing it to what you already know about yourself or other things that have happened to you. If it does, think about whether you see more value in improving it, defending it or working around it. If it doesn’t you can “keep it under advisement”, i.e. stored away to be addressed if it comes up again.