These words are some of the scariest in the world to me. Perhaps because I am in business of helping people. Perhaps because I am a people-pleaser. Perhaps because I am a perfectionist. Regardless, when people are upset with me, it hurts me and stresses me out at the deepest of levels.
Often though, the actual criticism is not that bad. We make it worse. We take it to a whole other level. What we do with criticism is far more important than any criticism we will receive.
After all, receiving criticism is one of the best sources of improving.
“Whoever follows instruction is in the path to life, but whoever disregards reproof goes astray.”
So, how can we allow criticism to be a beneficial to our lives? I am, by far, not the expert in this. But following these steps can be very helpful.
Before I tackle the issue, I remind myself of a few important truths:
- I am not perfect. Jesus is perfect. Stop holding yourself to an impossible standard.
- Isolate this issue and do not generalize it to other events. If you find yourself saying “I always…” stop it!
- Remind yourself that you can learn something very value from this criticism.
Now, if you can do that, the rest of the process is going to go much better. Typically, criticism can be filed into a few different categories. Knowing the right category will help you deal with the criticism and move on!
Category #1: The criticism is warranted. You deserved it!
Solution: Make peace with the people you hurt and create a plan to fix it. Then, move on and work hard to not create a pattern.
Category #2: There was absolutely nothing you could do.
Solution: If something is out of your control, why spend energy trying to fix it?
Category #3: The person giving the criticism has issues and wounds. Jealousy. Past events. Current Struggles. You get the idea.
Solution: Do not blame yourself for the issues and problems of other people. Help the other person, but don’t take the bait!
Category #4: There was a complete misunderstanding.
Solution: Don’t stress, but don’t just sit there. Work to fix the misunderstanding.
Category #5: This is what Jesus talked about by following Him.
Solution: Sometimes, we are persecuted for standing up for our faith. Sometimes we are persecuted for fulfilling a mission that people just don’t understand yet. Sound familiar? We have to remember that Jesus told us this was coming.
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
- Matthew 16:24