Coping with Criticism

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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None of us likes to be criticized, but few, if any, of us will go through life without experiencing criticism. In fact, the more we stand up for something, the more we will be criticized.

So how do we handle criticism when it comes our way? Here are some tips that have helped me:

1) Consider who has given you the criticism. Is it someone who loves and cares about you? Is it someone who has authority over you, such as a parent, a husband, a pastor, a boss, or a teacher? Or is it someone who doesn’t particularly like you or who is jealous of you? The source of the criticism is important in determining its validity, although valid criticism can also come from our enemies.

Criticism that comes from someone who has our best interests at heart should be considered seriously because that person’s motive is usually sincere. On the other hand, criticism that comes from an enemy may be jaded by that person’s bias against you. Nevertheless, the wise person does not immediately dismiss criticism, regardless of the source. Rather, he continues to the next step.

2. Look at the criticism objectively. Do not allow it to upset you, but rather, ask yourself if there is any truth in it. If there is, humbly accept that truth and use it as a catalyst for change. When considered in this manner, criticism can be a tool to help you grow as a person.

All of us have blind spots. Sometimes it takes another person’s insight to reveal to us areas in our lives that are causing us problems. For instance, a person may be repelling people because of his sarcastic attitude and yet not realize that his sarcasm is costing him friends. When this is pointed out to him by a well-meaning person, he should humbly examine his attitude and correct it, if necessary.

3. Once you’ve distilled the truth, if any, from the criticism, throw the rest of the criticism away. Don’t think about it any longer. If you dwell on the false part of the criticism, you will do nothing but upset yourself. Criticism is usually an opinion and is only as trustworthy as the person giving it. Remember: Nothing can upset you unless you give it permission to upset you.

In short, the rule of thumb regarding criticism is this: If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, don’t. Deep down inside, we usually know when a criticism directed at us is true or not. If it is, don’t give in to pride by trying to shrug it off or argue your way out of it. As the Scriptures say, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). On the contrary, take the criticism like a man—or woman—and become a better person because of it.

Questions: 1) Has someone criticized you lately?  2)) Was there truth in the criticism? 3) How did you handle the criticism?

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Copyright 2015 by Dr. Mary Ann Diorio.  Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com  or via one of her social media venues below:

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