How we deal with criticism is a deeply personal thing, and it is a skill that you can hone. It takes facing the catabolic response you have while being vulnerable, and staying empowered that you’re in control of how you receive it. AND, if you deem the critique true at all.

I’ve often been told by others that I am not good at handling criticism. I have to sigh when I hear this because while valid feedback, it’s still discouraging and doesn’t feel like the whole picture to me. I genuinely do like to receive constructive feedback. I’m very concerned with my personal development, self growth, and wanting to be better tomorrow than I am today. So, any resistance to criticism doesn’t come from wanting to stay where I am, or an ego place of thinking I’m above any feedback- that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I believe that my resistance to feedback comes from two main areas. First, a lack of trust in others. And second, from the fact that I’m already so hard on myself and put myself under so much pressure to make conscious well thought-out decisions.

When you’ve gone through a problem twenty ways over in your head, thought through the pitfalls, obstacles, and carefully chosen the a path forward- to be met with criticism that takes for granted everything you had to work through to reach that decision- it’s not an easy place to be. So often, this feels like the unsolicited feedback conversations that I’ve had in my life. And those are not conversations I’m very interested in having.

However, when someone has genuine insight for you, they ask questions to get the context, and want to share thoughtful criticism- that to me is a conversation I’m highly interested in having.

The Truth About Cricitism

The truth is, constructive criticism is necessary for our growth. There have been times when I’ve been brave enough to share genuine criticism that was not received well. In fact, it ruined a very precious friendship of mine. I wish now that I could have gone back and delivered a more intentional conversation around the area, but the truth is- I don’t know if that would have changed anything. What I do know is that it was a necessary conversation to have, and that I could have done a better job.

Giving Feedback:

Now I am even more intentional with giving criticism. I’m not a fan of the feedback sandwich where you layer a piece of negative insight between two positive ones. I feel like that often feels fake and forced. But I do believe that it’s important to meet the person you’re talking to with genuine support, and that means pointing out what’s going right or well, what’s working, and having the context to know how your piece of constructive feedback works with the bigger picture.

Receiving Feedback:

If you find yourself on the receiving end of criticism I think it’s important to consider the following three things as a safety filter:

  1. Is the person sharing criticism with you a credible source? Are they an expert in the area? Do they have an incentive to support you in this area? Do they genuinely care about you or your growth?
  2. Could this insight help me? Is there something to the information you’re receiving? If you were able to implement it would it move you towards or away from your goals?
  3. Is it True? This one is extremely important. Is it true? If someone is insulting you, you have every right to not believe what they’re saying is true. Is there truth in the comments? Maybe it’s a yes, maybe it’s a partial yes, and maybe it’s a no. You get to look at the bigger picture and decide.

I do know that I have a huge area of opportunity with receiving criticism. I believe that focusing on my inner strength, preparing my self before receiving criticism, and using the filter system from above would help. I also think it’s an opportunity for more practice. The more we become familiar with unfamiliar territory, the better and more skilled we become.

You can listen to my thoughts of navigating this topic more in my episode of the A Bit From Within Podcast. Available wherever you listen to podcasts!

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