So often, we lose our inner peace through the slightest criticism. Our reputation, dignity and good name are threatened. The fear of rejection prompts us to counterattack. We start to defend ourselves as if we were in a battle.
However, criticism is nothing more than an observation of another person about who we are, what we think or do. But it typically doesn’t match the vision we have of ourselves. What a big deal!
When we react to criticism in a defensive way, it hurts us even more. It seems as if we are attacked and need to defend ourselves by responding with counter-criticism. We fill ourselves with anger and hurtful thoughts directed either at ourselves or at the person who criticized us. Such a response takes a huge amount of mental energy. I have to confess that I struggled with this problem for a long time.
However, it’s an incredibly beneficial attitude to approach criticism in an unruffled manner. Yes, you heard it right. But don’t get me wrong, as I don’t suggest that you let people offend you or treat you like a doormat. However, it can be edifying for us, and sometimes for the offender, if we control our emotions and have an undisturbed attitude even in such a challenging set of circumstances.
When I consciously didn’t confront criticism for the first time, I remember I felt anger inside at first, but then I decided to keep a calm attitude. I was determined to apply that strategy which I had read about many times. My reply was: “Thank you for raising this issue. It really needs improvement”. I discovered something that changed my life! Not confronting the criticizer, I was able to see that she had a good point. My non-defensive reaction helped her relax. A few minutes later, she even started to point out the positive aspects of my formerly criticized behavior. I doubt she would have said that had I become angry at her observation.
I’ve since learnt that negative or non-constructive reaction to criticism never makes the criticism go away. In fact, negative reactions to criticism often convince the person doing the criticizing that they are accurate in their assessment of you.
Try this new strategy. I think you’ll discover that your unruffled attitude towards an occasional criticism has more value than it costs.
Certified Life Coach