10 Tips For Receiving Criticism With Grace
By Lissa Rankin on May 08, 2014
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Because I put myself out there in public ways, I’m subjected to a LOT of criticism, both on the internet and in person. Some of it is the kind of vicious, violent hating that cowards love to spout amidst the safety of being anonymous on the internet. Some of it is pure projection. People don’t like what they see of themselves in the mirror I hold up. Some of it is totally valid constructive criticism delivered in a respectful, helpful, balanced way.
No matter how criticism is delivered, the ego hates to be criticized. It likes to respond to criticism with defensiveness, anger, or self-flagellation. But if you’re able to receive criticism as your Inner Pilot Light, rather than as your ego, there are ways to let criticism help you. Whether the criticism appears from anonymous people on the internet or from people close to you, it’s possible to receive criticism in a healthy way and let the criticism allow you to grow and learn. Most of the criticism I receive on the internet I ignore because I don’t know the people who are criticizing me, so it’s hard to discern why they’re criticizing me or whether I can trust that they are safe people with my best intentions at heart. However, I invite the people I love to criticize me. It’s how I see my blind spots and grow into a better person.
Here are a few tips for how to receive criticism with grace.
1. Assess whether the person criticizing you leaves you feeling emotionally and physically safe.
If this is someone you trust, who you know has your best interests at heart, invite the criticism. If this is someone unsafe who does not have your best interests at heart, it’s okay to set boundaries around uninvited criticism. You don’t have to sit through a violent verbal attack. If you have a history with an unsafe person who wants to criticize you, it’s okay to ask that person to save the criticism for when you can have a mediator present, someone like a therapist. It’s also okay to refuse to listen if you’re not wanting to keep a relationship. But it very worth inviting criticism from the people who are really trying to help.
2. Listen generously to the person who is criticizing you.
When the ego is feeling defensive and hurt, it’s so easy to interrupt and start defending yourself before the person criticizing you even gets a chance to finish what is being said. Resist the urge to jump in and cut off the person criticizing you. Place your full attention on the person speaking and wait until they’ve finished speaking to respond.
3. Be humble.
Avoid the tendency to make someone wrong just because they’re criticizing you. No matter how awesome you are, chances are, there’s room for improvement. Be willing to be wrong.
4. Find a way to make the person criticizing you right, even if you disagree with what is being said.
Acknowledge what is being said. Recognize the courage it took for your criticizer to speak up. That doesn’t mean you have to own what is being said, but it does mean you create safety for the criticizer by offering reassurance that it’s safe to criticize you without threatening the relationship. Thank the person who criticized you. Assuming what was said was expressed with your best interests in mind, be grateful that you’re in a relationship with someone who wants to help you live a happier, healthier, more productive, more aligned life. It’s not easy to grow and evolve out of our unconscious habitual patterns. We can only do it with the support of those who are committed to helping lift us up.
5. Filter the criticism through the lens of your truth.
Don’t automatically believe all criticism, but don’t automatically reject it all, either. When you believe all criticism, you’ll get so traumatized that you’ll stop putting yourself out there, and if you reject all criticism without looking for the truth in it, you’ll turn into a diva. Consider the criticism and examine it to see if it feels true when you assess it not with your ego, but with your Inner Pilot Light. Discerning what rings true for you and what doesn’t is essential.
6. Check for projections.
Sometimes people criticize you when they’re really criticizing themselves, projecting onto you what they don’t like about themselves. These kinds of criticisms aren’t clean. For example, if you’re thinking about taking a risk, like quitting a job you’re unhappy in, someone who is too scared to quit their own unhappy job might criticize you for being irresponsible, when really, it’s not about you. It’s about them.
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