How to Protect Your Heart Against Criticism
Let’s be real. Nobody enjoys criticism unless you have a heart of stone. And no doubt, you have a heart made from flesh. So, when someone hurls criticism at you like the tides beating the shore, it hurts. It hurts deep in the core of your heart.
Remember this, though…
It’s impossible to control the critical words flowing from someone’s mouth towards you. Nevertheless, you can control how you react towards it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to control criticism. And so, it caused many problems in one of my relationships. When he criticised me, I criticised back or sulked.
I took the undesirable verbal abuse personally. His words cut like a knife.
I buried them deep inside.
I fed on them.
They grew in my heart. In the long run, his judgmental words produced resentment, anger, frustration and bitterness.
The result was fireball sparks.
When anger welled up inside, I criticised back.
It wasn’t a healthy environment to live in. On top of that, the build up of toxic emotions stressed me out. And stress causes heart problems and other health issues.
Can you see how this can result in a snowball effect?
Perhaps you live with destructive words being launched at you regularly. You have two choices. Either you deal with it by giving as good as you get, or you control your reaction.
“Any fool can criticise, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” Dale Carnagie
Let’s focus on how to protect your heart (plus related emotional and health issues) by handling criticism positively. Turn it into a life lesson for positive growth instead.
- Don’t react negatively
When someone maliciously criticises you, it’s painful. The words they dish out can make you feel like rubbish. They could be doing it to cause a negative reaction from you. If you retaliate to their provocation, you will get angry. This could trigger a blast of verbal abuse.
Listen carefully to what they’re saying. If there are any truths in their words, think about how you can deal with it. Improve any areas in your life that you need to work on.
On the other hand, if they are just being continually malicious, it could be you should think about your relationship with that person. What can you do to make things better between the two of you? Depending on who the person it, you might need to create boundaries between you. Or even cut off the friendship.
If it’s your partner, try to find a solution together. Discuss the reason causing a backlash of wounding words with a professional who can help.
- Stay calm
This follows on from not reacting negatively. Stay calm and give polite answers to their poisonous words. Tell them to stop being verbally abusive and talk to you respectfully. Ask them why they choose to demean you with nasty words?
If they don’t stop, try hard not to lose your cool. It won’t be easy and you will need self-control. Walk away if you have to. Walking will clear your head and calm you down. You will then be in a better place to assess the situation.
If you can make sense of what they’re saying, pick out any truths in it and use that to work on yourself.
- The person criticising has an underlying issue or problem
There are many reasons why someone criticises you. Perhaps it’s because they’re insecure. So, they throw verbal abuse at you to cover up their own flaws.
On the other hand, they don’t know how to communicate sensibly. As a result, they get angry easily.
Then again, perhaps they’re carrying around unresolved issues, buried inside. It could be deep-rooted from their past or go as far back as their childhood. Holding on to toxic emotions will eventually cause an overflow of resentment and anger. The result can lead to verbal or physical abuse.
Another reason could be jealousy. They resent you for whatever reason. Instead of celebrating your achievements or accomplishments, they hurl negative words at you.
No matter how bad a situation, there is always a lesson in it. In hindsight, I look back at when my ex-partner criticised me. One thing that struck me was the nasty remarks about my facial expressions. But he was right.
I tend to screw up my face when I’m angry or irritated. I’ve caught myself doing it and seen how my face looks in the mirror. The lesson I learnt from that particular criticism is to smile more and frown less.
What is your lesson? Take a step back and recall (in your own time when you’re alone) the critical words. Think about them with an open mind, calmly and not with anger. Reflect on them. Was there any truth in those words about your attitude, character or behaviour?
What can you learn about yourself from destructive criticism? Make a list of anything you need to work on to develop your character. Then, get constructive advice from people you can trust. Read self-help information. And, turn negative words into positive life changes. It will make you a stronger person.
Over to you…
- How do you deal with unpleasant criticism?
- Did you learn anything about yourself from the words that hurt you?
- Was there any truth in the criticiser’s words?
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