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How to Handle Criticism Like a Champ


“To Escape criticism- do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” These words, spoken by famed writer Elbert Hubbard, hit the nail right smack on the head. Criticism can be crippling and the fear of being criticized can be catastrophic. It can prevent you from taking those grand risks that lead to greatness and hinder you from reaching your full potential.

I’ve faced my fair share of criticism and I am sure all of you have as well. A little while ago, someone said some not-so-nice things about ANM and I was simply devastated. I mean ANM is my baby, it’s what I put my heart and soul into. Even in the face of all the positive feedback we’ve received, this one little comment caused me to crumble. The experience really got me thinking about criticism and how to deal with it.

Everyone, from the most beautiful women to the most talented singers to the most insightful writers, has haters out there who think them ugly, untalented, inarticulate and so on. It’s no wonder so many celebrities crack under the pressure of intense scrutiny. I’m not sure how well I’d be able to handle it, a sentiment that is undoubtedly widely shared.

There is no way to avoid criticism, especially when you put yourself out there and do something bold and daring, but there are ways to learn how to take it like a champ and casually dust the cruel words right off your shoulders.

Read on to learn how to handle criticism with grace:

Acknowledge the source
This is something I think we all learned in middle school and high-school: there are many people out there (usually girls, I hate to say it) who enjoy being mean for meanness sake. In most cases, this has everything to do with jealously or insecurity and nothing whatsoever to do with the victim of their wrath.

I have a friend who is both incredibly smart and incredibly beautiful. All her life she has been pegged as just a dumb blond. Is she dumb? No, she’s brilliant! Does it make people feel better about themselves for a beautiful girl to be lacking in some other significant area? It certainly does.

These mean for being mean people often don’t know you at all, they just asses and attack based on what they see and want to perceive. If they don’t know you, how can they know enough to critique? They can’t! Look at the comments section of any gossip blog. Can you believe some of the things people say? Even about babies?? I certainly can’t! And if someone is being mean just for the hell of it, then screw it and screw them. They’re insecure and unhappy and you’re not, so alls well that ends well.

Repeat these words: who cares?!
There have been people in my life who I really trusted who have turned around and said really nasty things about me. At the time, I was really upset by it but in hindsight it was all so stupid because the things they said, while very mean, were not even close to true. And if it isn’t true, then why should I care? And if it is true, then again, why should I care?

No one is perfect, we all have flaws and we can either embrace them as small quirks that make us who we are, or work on improving them (but only because we want to and certainly not to please anyone else!). Either way, it’s no big deal and certainly not something to get into a tizzy over.

Is it really ‘criticism’?
Criticism falls into two categories: constructive and destructive. Sometimes when people give us helpful tips about how we can improve, commonly referred to as ‘constructive criticism,’ we immediately go into defensive mode and interpret it as destructive criticism. When someone is sincerely trying to give you tips and insights as to how you can better some area of your life, this should not be interpreted as mean or malicious. Rather than immediately dismissing what this person has to say, give it some thought and really consider whether it has merit.

An editor once told me to tighten up my writing and to avoid being so verbose. My reaction: ‘I most certainly am not verbose! I’m articulate and like to go into depth and explain things thoroughly. That’s a good thing! Verbose, ha!” Then, after examining some of my writing, I realized that lo and behold, I was a bit overly wordy. I put in the effort to correct this issue and my writing improved enormously.

Take a cue from Khloe
Yup, I’m using Khloe Kardashian as a role model for this article. Due to the fact that she spills beyond the borders of the size zero mold that dominates Hollywood, she has incurred a deluge of criticism about her weight and appearance. People even had the nerve to say she looked fat on her wedding day, can you imagine?

Rather than letting these cruel words consume her being, she, for the most part, ignores it and when she’s not ignoring it, she’s fighting against it and proudly professing that she is perfectly happy with the way she looks. The haters will always talk, but Khloe seems happier and more confident now than ever, so who gets the last laugh?

Ditch the biggest critic of all, yourself!
By criticizing ourselves all the time, we open the door for others to join the party. If you have a strong sense of confidence, one that really comes from within, you will forever be immune to criticism. It is only those who waver on their convictions that are at the mercy of others.

When it comes to your self-image, you need to stand on solid ground, hold your head high, acknowledge who you are, flaws and all, embrace it, and love it without question, doubt, or hesitation.

How do YOU handle criticism? Is there some great secret I left out? Tell us about it in the comments section!

- SABRINA ALEXIS

{ 21 comments… add one }

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anjula minz

nice article …..when i read this article feel more confident..<3 <3

Reply August 11, 2014, 12:54 am

anjula minz

i like this article ..when i read this article feel more confident…

Reply August 10, 2014, 11:24 pm

Amy

Thank You Sabrina for your articals! :) I swear you live inside my head! Yes, I get critized all the time..It comes from everywhere..I am going to counceling for self esteem issues. But why do people say not so nice things too you or about you? Is it because too make the critizer feel better about themselves? Wondering in Ohio..”<3"

Reply July 16, 2014, 8:54 am

Ash

I just realized that you wrote this email a few years ago but this advice is timeless! I really enjoyed reading this article especially because it has to do with self-improvement and that’s something that I’m currently working on. My brother once said to me, ” if something bothers you it’s because you LET it bother you.” This article just things more into perspective for me so thank you!

Reply July 2, 2014, 12:49 pm

Maria

Thank you so much for that article it was really helpful. This is quite a challenge for me too. I have been working on my self confidence and self esteem for a while now and all is going well. Then a teacher in my Salsa class said to me ‘You did really well today, don’t be so nervous though!’ Well my reaction was to say ‘I’m not nervous!’ Then I thought about it all the way home! I realised she was saying to me what I was really feeling! Even though I’ve been dancing for a while she was right I do look nervous at times and people pick up on it. Sometimes a critisism mirrors what you feel about yourself. So I’ve decided to work on being more confident. I do this with meditation for confidence and I find it really helps. We carry a lot of past self limiting baggage around with us in our lives and once we learn to shift these it is like a weight lifted and then we are free to be who we were meant to be, ourselves. So sometimes we have to analyse what someone is saying to us, the reason for them saying it, is it in our best interest? If we disagree with the criticism then discard it as just an opinion and opinions vary!!

Reply January 30, 2014, 3:46 pm

Kristy

Sabrina,

You have a beautiful healthy baby! Congratulations! And from one “mom” to another: the others are just jealous. LOL!

I loved your article. You always offer such good advice complete wwith step-by-step instructions. You are a gifted writer!

I wanted to share a few more things that I do to handle criticism, or at least prepare myself when I know there will be buckets of it tossed my way. (smiles)

I repeat Bill Murray’s line in Meatballs. He was a summer camp counselor for the cheapo, lame, “losers” camp who had to compete, and always lost to the exclusive, rich, “winners” camp. When the kids were telling him how they lost every year, he said, “it’s just camp. It just doesn’t matter. It JUST doesn’t matter. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!” and of course the “loser” kids won, and in reality, It Just Doesn’t Matter what the others say or do.

I have a list of songs I listen to before I go to court – I’m a divorce attorney. So, yes, I really understand handling criticism! LOL! But I digress…

My list of songs include
1) Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”
2) Christina Aguilera’s “Here to Stay”
3) Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”
4) Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” & “Fireworks”
5) Glee’s Mercedes singing “Hate on Me”

And I have seen more times than I can repeat, that if you let them talk, and just say, “Ok,” the silence KILLS them. They can’t fight with silence. And just look at them intently, waiting for more of their wisdom (insert sarcasm here). But seriously, if you can video yourself, or practice in the mirror to develop a non-confrontational, open, “listening” look, it is your ultimate weapon.

Those who argue can’t handle silence. You aren’t giving them anything to work with. So, when you stay silent, and listen intently, they will keep talking. And, when you give them enough rope, they hang themselves with it. Every time. It’s the best karma, the best feeling, the best outcome.

Buddha said, “Do not speak–unless speaking improves the silence.”

And there you have it. My heart-felt, long-winded, and very verbose compliments to you & Eric.

Hugs & Kudos!
Kristy

Reply December 3, 2013, 12:55 am

Sabrina Alexis

Thanks for the kind words, Kristy! I really appreciate it. And I love all your tips (and the playlist….brilliant!), definitely gonna give them a try, thanks for sharing!

Reply December 4, 2013, 2:36 pm

Ana

When I’m faced with criticism that gets me down, I do something that reminds me of how great I am. I draw, I write, I have dinner with friends just to laugh about random stuff or I go dancing (great because it releases endorphins!). I automatically feel happier and more connected to myself – and for the most part, I don’t remember the criticism in the morning anyway :D I just remember not to let haters get me down – I am who I am; who else could I be, after all? Hugs & kisses to you and Eric, GREAT JOB on ANM! I love this site!

Reply February 20, 2013, 3:39 am

Donna

Thank you Sabrina, love the article. I just wanted to say I really enjoy reading your articles as some of them hit home. This article, you hit it right on, we are all a work in progress, none of us are perfect and our flaws make us who we are. Over the years I have been insecure like most women, but as I get older, I have also learned to embrace my flaws, be the best I can be and to love myself for who I am. My motto and I stick to it is, We are all awesome in our own way and never every let anyone tell you anything different:-) Thank you for sharing.

Reply February 18, 2013, 7:46 pm

Ashley

Hi Sabrina., thank you for writing this article and helping us women deal with self-criticism a little bit better. I’m fairly new to ANM and so far I’m loving all of the great insight on men and relationships but I have to say that this subject really hit home for me because I myself am guilty of being my own worst critic and comparing myself to other girls( my boyfriends ex), which in turn made me feel insecure. Thank you for helping me remember something I occasionally forget which is to not be so hard on myself , love yourself, because only you can make you happy. ????

Reply December 8, 2012, 11:58 am

jenny

Sabrina I cant tell you enough, how helpful this article is. it is really wonderful and really made me understand the whole thing. I been suffering from having low self esteem but this article really made me see the whole picture. thanks for posting such an awesome awesome note :) i love your blog, and for me i think u really a good writer. i will always support this blog. thanks for the newsletter as well.

Reply October 26, 2012, 7:13 pm

Joanie

Know who u r n don’t let others even remotely try to rattle u. That’s all they want to do….to get a rise out of u.

Reply September 1, 2012, 5:51 pm

Nadia

Thank you both for your articles. It really helps. Thank you.

Reply September 1, 2012, 2:52 am

Chasity

Love this article.!

Reply August 31, 2012, 11:57 am

Ms E

Good Article! This came right on time! Something I needed to hear!

Reply August 31, 2012, 11:46 am

Sophia

Good article

Reply August 16, 2012, 11:42 am

Keishanna

Thank you for this…I googled how to handle haters and this page came up. I’m glad I read it because I am going thru people I have to see everyday at my job. Back stabbing me everyday.

Reply December 23, 2011, 7:43 pm

Lou

Brilliant article! Avoiding criticism is the main reason I don’t want to carry on in the career I love. This has really helped!

Reply December 7, 2011, 8:51 pm

claudia habeeb

What great advice! I needed that!

Reply April 17, 2010, 8:17 pm

Sabrina Alexis

Well thank YOU Niki. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you said. I put a lot of myself into these articles and am so happy to hear that this one resonated with you and that you were able to find value in it : )

Reply January 11, 2010, 5:19 pm

Niki

This was really a beautiful article. I have read so many articles like these but yours really had something to say: you hit everything perfectly.
I face a LOT of criticism, with work, school, family… Sometimes it is really all too much.. Your article had not only insight, but answers as well.
(And I like your writing style alot, because it really Connects with the reader.)
So, Thank you (very much) for giving me tools to handle criticism. I cannot tell you how much it means..

Reply January 10, 2010, 7:19 pm

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