“The problem with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale
One of the daily challenges many of us face involves receiving criticism. Whether or not it’s warranted, many of us find criticism difficult to hear. We often take it personal, becoming hard on ourselves, defensive, and hurt. Some of the most painful (and true) pieces of criticism I have received include:
- “You’re too rigid with your schedule.”
- “You work too much.”
- “You should go out and socialize more.”
Once received, our mind jumps in with self-judgment, leaving us feeling embarrassed, disappointed, or like we failed. However, it’s important to remember that criticism is often constructive and meant to help us thrive and improve rather than hurt us.
Learning how to listen to it openly and receptively helps us become less defensive and less emotional so that we open our awareness to what’s really being said. Not all criticism is constructive, but listening to all of it with an open mind allows us to respond from a calm & nonreactive place. So how do we accept criticism when a colleague, friend, or loved one shares words that feel personal or hurtful?
Well… we can start by taking a few deep breaths while the person we are talking to is speaking, or while we are reading this feedback. We can use the breath as a tool to calm the mind and body as we try to remain open and not take things personally, even if it feels personal. It can also be helpful to rest a hand somewhere that feels grounded, like our belly or heart. This simple gesture can help us feel safe and connected so that we can truly listen to the words being said without shutting down or interrupting. And if we feel overwhelmed or need time to absorb the criticism, it’s perfectly okay to ask for some space and time to reflect.
Creating a bit of distance allows us to acknowledge our feelings and hold them with curiosity and care. The point in taking this space is to create a calmer and clearer state of mind from which we can process what was said with less judgment and negative self-talk. Note the valid points mentioned and let go of those that don’t serve you. When you are able to take the best and leave the rest, the critique becomes an opportunity for growth, self-improvement, and transformation.
Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth in the criticism, try to learn from it, otherwise let it roll off your shoulders, right back into the earth.
Enjoy what comes of today, friends!