The Power Of Criticism And How To Deal With It

in freewrite •  9 months ago

I changed my hair color lately and I’m having up and down feelings about it. At first, I kind of liked it, I was getting compliments about it and I was willing to accept the change. Then, a person I really care about said it was better before, that he didn’t like it. Well, that brought me way down and now I don’t only hate it, but I also have a very low self-esteem.

I got more positive comments about it than negative criticism. But yet, I decided to listen to the bad feedback and let that affect me. Well, I didn’t decide, actually. I tried to focus on my own and first opinion, telling myself to ignore it and embrace it. My mind kept coming back to the negative comment, until it got me.


I’ve seen other people doing the same, specially when they expose themselves in the public eye. In YouTube, for instance: I see people affected and replying to their hate comments, when about 90% of the comments they get are nice and positive. It’s easy to look at it, think they’re dramatising and tell them off. When it happens to us, though, we can’t help but letting it affect us. In my case, at least.

I decided to do some research to find out why does criticism have such a powerful influence over our own thoughts and opinions. I found out that there’re a few explanations, including the ones below.

We reflect the comments on your own thoughts

This happens when we exaggerate on the importance of a comment, because it reinforces our own insecurities and negative thoughts. We get influenced by our own wound, letting that criticism affect us.

We generalise one comment to everything else

One example would be if I had a client that’s not happy with a work I’ve done, and I start thinking that I suck at work, because of it. Sometimes we’re our worse enemies. Just because it happened once, it doesn’t mean it reflects on everything else.

We take it too personal, rather than seeing it as a constructive criticism

A lot of times people’s comments are meant to help. It’s up to us to take that criticism and learn from it, instead of suffering from it.

Cover_criticism 2.jpg
A reminder to be reasonable with our own selves, when it comes to self-criticism.

In my case, I think the 2 first reasons are very accurate. I’m very insecure about myself, so my mind chose to ignore all the good feelings, and focus on the bad one.

I also found a very interesting article about the same subject. It proposes 3 questions, based on the book 'The Work by Byron Katie', to ask yourself, when you’re hurt from getting criticism. The exercise is to think about what the criticism means to you and what does it make you feel. Having it in mind, answer to the following questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

I answered to these questions in my head. Surprisingly, what I’ve got is not as terrifying as it was in my head, before. I realised that my insecurity was a bigger problem than whatever bad comment I got. I also concluded that, as much as I tell people to feel good in their own skin, I should do it myself too.

It’s important to reflect on how criticism affect us, so we can think about the issues underlying the reasons why we feel hurt. People will always comment and have different opinions, you can’t always please everyone. It’s up to us to get the criticism and choose to let it hurt us or not; choose to grow from it, instead of getting stuck in our own sorrow.


What do you do to deal with criticism? Would love to know. Hope you have a lovely rest of week ! :)

Images from here, here and here

p.s. shoutout to @maverickinvictus for motivating me to write this post! :D

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I totally believe you @julimattos! especially with this "A lot of times people’s comments are meant to help. It’s up to us to take that criticism and learn from it, instead of suffering from it."

I've been experiencing criticisms until now. Instead of keeping the negative thoughts in my head, I am trying my best to take those criticisms to prove myself right and them wrong. Its much like I am using those criticisms to be better.

Ugh, it's so hard not to let the criticism take over and echo in your mind. It genuinely takes work and practice to find a balance between obsessing over negative feedback and tuning it out entirely (when some, as you say, may actually be constructive). You're right that the extent to which we absorb negative comments is often a reflection of our own insecurities. I think the best way to tackle it is to work on your self love and your own confidence in your work, and allowing yourself the latitude to mess up every once in a while, or make things that are slightly lower than your own standards.

I really think that you are me in another country hahaha

Sometimes we’re our worse enemies

I am my worst critic. I am very hard on myself and that sometime (okay all of time) is bad for me because often it leads me to overthinking and procratinating.

I’m very insecure about myself, so my mind chose to ignore all the good feelings, and focus on the bad one.

You could have been describing me here hahha

I like what you shared those 4 questtions and I would definitely recommending this as a read for someone like us.

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At first, I just wanted to glance on the post for a minute to know what i will comment, so i can drop my post on Asapers. well i did it but as i was about to leave, something caught my eyes and i had to calm down and read the whole post.
Well... No matter how good you are... everybody mustn't like you... I take myself for instance. No matter how good i draw, i have a friend that will always find a mistake in it.
Well am a human and am bound to make mistakes. The same person that always see those mistakes will never see the good part of the drawing and give me some credits. As for me, the only people their opinion really matters in my life is my family and myself.

Thanks for posting this. I can appreciate that you've added your insights and some knowledge for people to think about when it comes to criticism. Personally, I value critique. I don't value bullies though. And I will offer critique if a person is open to it, asks for it, asks a question. Also, if myself or a friend of mine is being pushed, I believe in pushing back simply on the principal of maintaining healthy boundaries.

Its so hard not to take criticism hard but its only their thoughts and not the reality. I would have loved to see the color of hair, I am sure it looks great and if it doesn't thats the great thing about hair you can change it and it always grows back. :)

Definitely prefer honnest and critical comments than "good job mate" ;)

I am like you. I don't take criticisms well. I have low self-esteem. I don't expect much. Sometimes there is good in that I think to myself because when the blow hits it is less severe than when expecting too high and only the fall is harder. I don't show that though because I have learned to accept things as they are. I question those questions posed by Byron Katie and it is terrifying sometimes how it makes me feel bad. I punish myself with thinking I am less than who I thought I am. I take comfort in the thought that there are people who loves me and accept me for who I am. I have built a strong foundation in them that is why I am thankful. Whatever negativity people throw at me, I just let it bounce back. It does affect me most of the times but with the thought of those people who got my back supporting me I can stand straight and forget the bad things. So I understand when the closest to you criticizes you negatively. It has the greatest impact. It is tough to get back from that.