How To Deal With Criticism

Have you ever received criticism, and felt physically attacked by each word. It throws you off your game, and you replay it over and over in your mind for hours, days, weeks, months and sometimes it stays with you for years if it really hits you.

So how do we avoid criticism?

"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." - Aristotle 

The fact is, if you are trying to do anything extraordinary with your life and abilities, you are going to experience friction from others, that's guaranteed. However, there are two types of criticism you need to be aware of, constructive criticism and destructive criticism.

Let's start with destructive criticism, and get the negativity out the way with.

Destructive criticism, is purposefully intended emotional harm against the person for whom the criticism is targeted at. To put it simply, it's hate speech designed to have a negative effect on your view of yourself, to have a detrimental effect on your performance. 

So why do people destructively criticize? There may be rare occasions where the individual criticizing literally has a screw loose in there brain and can't control it, but for 99% of incidents, it's usually deflected frustration at themselves. When someone sees somebody else working harder than them, achieving more than them and doing things they wish they could, it causes a reaction inside of them.

There are two types of reactions a person can have to this, and it all depends on the mental strength of the individual. If the individual has a strong mindset, they will see that person working, and try to outwork them, they will see their achievements, and compete to do better. This is a positive, healthy reaction. On the other hand, if the individual has a weak, toxic mindset, instead of trying to increase their own level to surpass that person working hard, they find ways to try and bring that other persons level down, to make them feel better about themselves. And if they aren't able to do it physically, they usually start trying to attack them mentally.

So the next time you receive this kind of criticism, take a step back and assess the whole situation. Nine times out of ten, the reason you are on the receiving end of the negativity is because you are doing something right, and they can't handle it, so use it to fuel you and leave them even further behind.

Now, let's talk about a more positive criticism, constructive.

Constructive criticism is intended to provide helpful and specific suggestions for positive change. In other words, it's designed to identify areas that you can improve in so that you can work on weaknesses to level up your game. 

This is the tricky part. Our brain often has a hard time of figuring out whether the criticism we are receiving is constructive or destructive, and sometimes we can misinterpret someones offer for helpful advice, and assume it's an attack on us. As a result, we can often leave situations feeling drained and lacking confidence when in fact it should have the opposite effect. 

So how do we work out if the feedback we are getting is constructive, or destructive?

The key is to have empathy; the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes for a second. Consider who it is that is criticizing you. Is it a friend? Is it an opponent? Is it someone competing for your position? Is it a coach? 

By figuring out their relationship with you, you can get a clearer idea of the intent behind their words. If they are someone that cares for you, the chances are, they want to see you succeed, so the advice is probably going to be designed to try and help you. On the other side of the coin, if you don't have a good relationship with this person, then it's likely that they have no interest in seeing you succeed, so they are probably attempting to bring your level down to make their level appear higher than what it is. 

It's certainly not an easy task, but an important one. Spend some time thinking about any criticism that you've received that maybe you are holding on to. Figure out what was really going on in that situation so you can let go of it and move forward in your journey. 

So I'll leave you with this. You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one. Don't let the opinions of others direct your path, but walk strongly in your confidence within yourself. 

Make today count.