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Recovering from Criticism Vs. Receiving Feedback

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

Whenever I talk with people about why they are not going after their dreams or are feeling stressed out about their pursuit of a goal, I find they are having a difficult time either thinking about being criticized or have been criticized and are having a hard time recuperating from it.

Have you ever received a comment from someone and it felt like you just got stabbed in the heart?

What do you do then?

A Psychology Today article notes, “We don’t criticize because we disagree with a behavior or an attitude. We criticize because we somehow feel devalued by the behavior or attitude. Critical people tend to be easily insulted and especially in need of ego defense.”

Sometimes people question the motives of people without really knowing, so it can be helpful to distinguish between criticism and feedback.

Criticism looks like this:

  • Criticism is focused on your character rather than your actions. It gives the message that something is wrong with you or what you are doing.

  • Criticism does not build you up. It often points towards the problem rather than trying to give solutions.

  • Criticism is when people aim to control or pressure you into doing what they want. For example: "You’re applying for that job? That’s funny! You know you’re not right for that job and you should consider something else because you can’t pull it off."

Feedback on the other hand is:

  • Focused on giving you information to build you or your relationships up

  • Honest and gives a specific explanation of what is observed

  • Not assuming intent of the other person. For example: "You have said you are excited to apply for a Senior Manager position and I’m glad you are excited> And I’m a little concerned. Most managerial positions require supervisory experience and I know you have not yet had that experience. It might be helpful to do an informational interview to see if the company has a training program or to apply for other positions giving you the experience to gain a position like this in the future. "

How do you recover from feeling invalidated?

  • Check all your facts to see if your responses are valid or invalid. Check it out with a person you trust.

  • Acknowledge when your responses don’t make sense or when they do make sense.

  • Admit that it hurts to be invalidated by others, even if they are right.

  • Drop judgmental self-statements

  • Work to change invalid thinking, comments or behaviors. (Blaming is usually not productive either)

  • Practice self compassion.

  • Remember that being invalidated, even when your response is valid, is seldom a complete catastrophe.

  • Practice acceptance of the invalidating person. Acceptance does not mean agreement.

  • Most importantly – Validate yourself they way you would validate someone else!

It is important to consider the source of the information and check the facts about the person’s intention. How well do you know this person and do they generally have your best interest in mind?

Receiving feedback can be difficult and it is important for your own growth because we do not always see the full picture when it comes to ourselves. It can help you to become the best version of yourself.


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