Like it or not, everyone’s a critic. No matter who you are or what you do, there will always be someone who puts down your vision, disagrees with your message, or generally thinks you are not cool in one way or another.
Some people are used to it, and even think criticism is a good thing because it “toughens you up” or makes you stronger. Those who can handle it might have a temporarily bruised ego but they get over it pretty quickly, either changing something if they feel the criticism is warranted, or ignoring it and letting it roll off their back.
Then there are the rest of us, the sensitive types…
The great thing about being a sensitive person is that you care deeply about the world and people around you. You are affected by the moods and emotions of others. This empathy is a great asset as a Health Coach because it allows you to easily put yourself into your client’s shoes and connect with them on a deeper level.
Unfortunately, it also means that our egos are more incapacitated than bruised after hearing criticism about something we invested ourselves into deeply. The criticism gets lodged in our minds and saddens us for a long time, affecting our mood, sleep, thought patterns, personal interactions, work, and creative efforts for days, weeks, or even longer.
Harsh words hurt us on a deeper level, and if we’re not careful they can derail our dreams and steer our lives in a direction based on someone else’s false perceptions rather than our own desires and intuition.
We hear you sensitive souls and we want to empower you!
While no one is denying that constructive feedback is valuable and can help you grow and improve, you can still have control over how you receive this information, and decide what to do with it from a conscious and rational place rather than a reactive and emotional one.
Here are 5 ways to deal with critics and survive with your heart intact:
1. Only show your most vulnerable self to those who will be supportive.
If you have a big dream that involves quitting your job, changing careers, or doing something risky then you may want to hold off on sharing your vision at the next family reunion where conservative family members, despite their good intentions, might give you 100 reasons not to take any chances. They just don’t get it, and that’s ok. Unless, this change is something that will affect them personally – they don’t need to know until after the change has been made. Instead, choose a very small number of people who truly understand you and ask for their support along with helpful recommendations to elevate your idea, rather than what they hate about it.
2. Ask for feedback only when there is still time for you to make improvements.
If you’ve already completed whatever it is you want to do or make, then criticism is no longer constructive and is now just disapproval for the sake of opinion. Stay away from this type of feedback altogether (there is no rule that requires you to read every negative comment or bad review). Ask for feedback from your trusted circle when there’s still time to incorporate it, thereby making it useful.
3. Don’t dwell on the negative feedback when there’s far more positive.
How often have you experienced praise and support from 99% of people but there was that 1% that soured the experience? That 1% probably put little thought into their comment and moved on with their life not thinking but here you are months later afraid to try anything new. You are never going to please everyone so don’t fuel the 1%, celebrate the good instead!
4. Unplug and let it go.
So much of the feedback in our lives comes in through technology these days and if you’re glued to your computer hitting refresh repeatedly, obsessing over every comment – or lack thereof – then you’re feeding an unhealthy obsession. Sometimes it’s better to step away from ALL feedback for a while and enjoy your life without stressing about how people are going to react to your doing something you’re genuinely passionate about.
5. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
This is something Integrative Nutrition founder and director, Joshua Rosenthal, tells students repeatedly. We’ve heard countless stories from Integrative Nutrition students who said they almost didn’t follow their passion for wellness because there were objections and fears imposed on them by others, but they did it anyway have experienced a massive positive shift in their lives that affected not only their career and personal health, but also all those same relationships and much more. Whatever your dream, just do it. As you start to walk the path you’ll develop new relationships that are aligned with your goals and good things will happen, even if they’re not exactly what you initially planned.
While criticism may be a little tougher to handle for sensitive types, we have many other qualities that make us uniquely qualified for things our non-sensitive counterparts don’t really understand, like the arts, wellness, and simply carving our own path in the world. At Integrative Nutrition, our students learn how to embrace their sensitivity rather than hiding from it; learning to celebrate your innate strengths is a crucial part of what we call Primary Food. After all, the most important thing to remember is to pursue your passion without fear.
How have you handled criticism in your life? Share in the comments below!