We all deal with criticism from others in our day-to-day life. It could be from our loved ones, the manager at the office or someone at a party. Whether or not we react constructively to it, we shouldn’t let what someone says affect our self-confidence and make us feel inadequate. Criticism isn’t always good and it shouldn’t always be taken as compliments.
When others criticize us, we have the option to react positively and look at it as advice to improve. The second is to defend our position and enter into an argument. And the third approach is to outrightly reject it, but ensure that it doesn’t bother you.
What others see in you is a reflection of their own self. You can’t see in others what you don’t have in you.
Let’s look at all the 3 approaches:
Not all criticism is adverse and especially when it comes from our dear ones. These are the people who know us in and out, and are termed as a well-wisher. Maybe you said something mean or were rude to someone. You may not have realized your behaviour at that moment, but your dear one who was also present observed it and later speaks to you about it. If you know the other person has a point and you agree, rather than arguing, it is better to accept it and look as an opportunity to improve.
It could also be with your manager. Not all criticism from the manager is to find faults, avoid pay rises, or an excuse to defer promotion. Some could be really genuine. Here again, I strongly suggest to first see if the criticism from your manager has any merit to it, and if yes, then to seek it as an opportunity to improve.
But many a time, we feel that the other person is wrong and we may want to clarify our stand. But always remember, if you know that discussion is going to be fruitless, it is better to avoid the discussion and possibly the argument.
Here is a beautiful story about Buddha.
After days of travel, Buddha arrived to give a speech in a small town. The locals welcomed him with open arms except for one man, who wasn’t too pleased.
As Buddha spoke, the man shouted vehemently. Buddha was undeterred and continued speaking without paying the man any attention. The infuriated man yelled even louder, trying to get a reaction. He went directly in front of Buddha and started criticizing him, saying, “You do not have any right to teach others. You are just a stupid and a fake person”.
The crowd became antsy when the young man wasn’t willing to change his behavior. But Buddha calmed them down, pointing out that they should take the higher ground and stay calm in such a situation.
He then turned to the man and asked him, “If you gave someone a gift, but the person doesn’t accept it for whatever reasons, whom will the gift belong to?”
The question confused the man. He weighed things up for a second, and said, “I don’t know. Maybe it would belong to me because I bought the gift.”
The same can be the case when we receive criticism. If we do not accept it, it stays with the person who criticized us. Once you get into an argument, you will have very little control over the situation, and this will also lead to disharmony. So next time, when someone criticizes you, take a moment and choose your response wisely.
Rejecting Criticism and Letting Go
In the above step, we might still want to have some sort of discussion to clarify our stand, to the point that it doesn’t become argumentative. However, there can be a case where we know in our heart that the criticism is completely baseless, and that is no point even discussing. We may want to outrightly reject it. But while doing so, ensure that it doesn’t bother you once you leave the place.
What others say sticks into our heads, and often the same thought keeps going on and on. It is like a vicious circle, and we don’t know how to stop the thought from bugging. Here, it is important to let go of the thought.
Before Ending, Let Us Also Ask - Do You Criticize?
Until now, we have spoken about what to do when others criticize. But for a moment, let’s turn the tables. We all know how it feels when someone criticizes us. Except for positive criticism, most often, we feel low in energy; the criticism stays in our head or we enter into an argument. You could be doing the same to the other person by criticizing him or her. So always ask yourself before criticizing someone else, is it genuinely in favour of the person or is it to belittle the other person? If you can’t appreciate the other person, don’t criticize either.
People who criticize are the ones who are themselves not happy with their life and criticism is just a way for them to blurt out their grudges towards the life. While people who are happy in life and at peace rarely criticize.
So next time, take a moment to ask yourself, it is healthy for you to criticize?