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toughen up: how to handle criticism positively

Let's face it: we all have to deal with criticism from time to time. And no matter how thick-skinned you are, critical words usually sting. It doesn't feel great to be told you're not doing / looking / saying / acting as someone else thinks you should. When you're criticized, you can start to doubt yourself, to question your own motives, and it can be extremely difficult to combat negative thoughts as they start to mount in your mind.

While sometimes it feels as if would be great to avoid criticism all together, it's a part of life, and it's a part that can make us stronger and better. In some cases, the criticism is warranted; it's something we should listen to and consider. In other cases, the criticism isn't accurate (and sometimes has more to do with the other person's own issues than our own faults), and it's something we should brush off without giving it too much thought.

Regardless of the type of criticism, it's part of life and, for that reason, it's important to learn how to cope with criticism in a positive way. 



1. Don't take it personally.
It's hard not to take it personally when someone is criticizing you, but try to take a step back from the words and process them from an objective place. What is this person really saying? Is it about you or about him/her? And if it is about you, is it true? Sometimes we react so quickly to what's being said that we don't realize that it might be true. Or we react so quickly that we don't realize that it's so untrue that it's not even worth thinking about. 


2. Believe in yourself. When you know (and stay true to) who you are, the words of others carry less weight. You know what matters most to you and you know if you are staying true to your own path and what others say shouldn't make you question who you are. And, when you are true to yourself, you can be more open to others words because you know they will either ring true to you or they will be so inaccurate that you won't even need to think twice about them. 


3. Realize you can't please everyone. Every single one of us has a unique perspective of reality influenced by our thoughts and experiences and sometimes our perspective creates different ideas of how things should be. No matter how hard you try, you'll never be able to please everyone's idea of what's right so focus on pleasing yourself. If you're doing what's right for you and you feel good about how you're behaving, you don't need any one else's approval. 


4. Use negative feedback to inspire you. Take any negativity that comes your way and use it to make your life more positive. Listen to the criticism someone is offering you and ask yourself if it might possibly good advice. If you decide it is, act on it. Make changes for the better. If you think the critique is untrue, use the other person's negativity to fuel your fire, to motivate you to do what is right for you, and to go in the direction that suits you best. 


5. Learn from the critique. There are two ways you can learn from criticism: (1) you can see the truth it in (if there is any) and strive to make some edits to your behavior, or (2) you can realize that it's not valid and you can strengthen your own beliefs by sticking to what feels true to you. Either way, you have the potential to learn and grow from the criticism you've received. You have the power to take something positive from the negative. 


Coping with criticism can be a challenge, but it's something we're all bound to encounter at some point. Whether you do well with criticism or not, you always have the opportunity to transform it from something negative to something positive. You can make the most of anything life throws at you—even when it seems like it's cloaked in negativity. When you encounter criticism, remember to take a step back and think before you react. Doing so will give you a chance to see the glimmer of positivity that lies in every single negative critique. 


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When I find myself reacting really strongly to criticism, I find it's helpful to ask myself, "what is the story I'm telling myself?"

It doesn't have to be true, but I'm usually responding to a fear I have about myself. The story I tell myself, so to speak.

'Use critique to fuel your fire' definitely one of the best advice I have received.

Thank you for helping us through your writing, Dani. :)

Great article. Its helpful for each and everyone. Coping with criticism is a difficult task. Most of the people gets angry when someone criticizes them. But if we learn to handle criticism in a positive way, it can help us to be confident and better in every way.

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