How To Be Less Sensitive To CriticismApr 20, 2023
How do you deal with criticism?
Is it something you're pretty confident about, you can handle and do fine with, or does it derail you, and maybe you live in fear of it?
Often you're afraid of future criticism even before it happens. You're bracing yourself and trying to do things perfectly so you don't get criticized, or I've seen many people do this. Honestly, I've been there myself a lot. You look like you handle it fine on the outside, like,
Yeah, she seems so confident.
She can handle it so well.
But inside, you're a mess. You're angry, defensive, sad, scared, and feel like a failure, but you keep that hidden from everybody.
Regardless, if you're in either of those camps, I will show you a powerful technique to get a lot more comfortable and intolerant of criticism so it doesn't bother you so much.
How do we deal with it and how do you currently deal with it?
Do you live in fear of it?
Are you trying to make sure you avoid it at all costs?
The DOWNSIDE is, if you don't handle criticism well and you're afraid of it, then you will tend to minimize yourself.
You won't speak up.
You'll keep silent.
You won't take risks.
You won't put yourself out there.
You won't be the center of attention because all those things might lead to someone criticizing you.
Therefore, your life is very small and limited, and you're not able to pursue what you really want and do what you're here to do. This leads to dissatisfaction, more anxiety, and ultimately, depression and feeling bad.
Let's go face that dragon of criticism, and what better way to do it than to read you some criticism of myself?
In particular, there's one specific criticism, and I'll show you how I deal with it.
What we often are trying to do is AVOID criticism. We're trying to perform better so no one can criticize us. We're trying to be perfect, so no one criticizes us. We over-prepare for the presentation so no one would criticize us.
And yet we don't feel totally secure because, the next time someone criticizes you, you pull it off this time, but look out. Or maybe they are criticizing you behind your back. You don't know it.
How do we deal with that?
Freedom comes from being okay with people criticizing you because anything that we're afraid of, if we face it, we gain power. Anything that's true for every fear.
How do we face it?
Will you face criticism?
Let me share how I did this.
One of the ways that I’m criticized regularly is through the Internet. Maybe you are too. YouTube videos, podcasts, episodes, and books—I’ve written three to date, and I’m working on number four.
People can write reviews on Audible, Amazon, and other places, ranging from excellent to negative. I like to read them.
Some authors don’t read their reviews, but I like to see what people say. It actually helps me think about the next book. Are there things that I could improve? I see it as a muscle builder for my ability to not be reactive to criticism.
So, I was scanning through the reviews, and there were some five-star reviews.
You might be wondering why I’m sharing this with you. Knowing that the feedback is overwhelmingly positive, is it so you could buy the book?
No. I’m sharing this because some people don’t like it. They not only don’t like the book but also don’t like me.
This used to tear me up inside. Then I thought, this is crazy. How could a random person on the other side of the world not like me? I felt terrible about that. That’s a vulnerable place to be.
I decided I wanted to strengthen this.
What I decided to do is do a meditation exercise out of criticism.
When there was a critical email or review, I slowed down and read it thoroughly. I sometimes paused as I read it, closed my eyes, and noticed my reactivity.
Let me first read this one because it’s a doozy.
“Not Nice,” one out of five stars (the lowest rating you could give it.)
Showy and Unconvincing. Starting with the superficial, I found the narrator, who is also the author’s voice, very unpleasant.
“In this recording, at least, he sounded not just young, but immature and not at all like that of a professional adult. I realized his voice is something out of his control, so I tried to keep listening. I really tried. But between that and the hokey performance, I couldn’t take him seriously. I just couldn’t hang in there for another 17 hours. What I did manage to get, though, was at best unimpressive and at worst, showy, amateurish, and unconvincing.
“Both Dr. Aziz’s narration and writing style are super casual and overly familiar. No, I don’t want to be lectured by a stuffy old academic type. But seriously, I also don’t want advice from a guy it sounds like I just met at a bar.
“He encourages you to be ‘more selfish,’ which made me cringe. Yes, set boundaries. Be your authentic self. Don’t fall into the guilt trap. But it’s not all or nothing. You don’t have to go from self-doubt to selfishness, from guilt to greed, from people pleasing to overcompensation. You can take care of yourself while being kind to others. Also, the cussing was a little bit much.
It is possible to write an effective self-help book without using profanity. I personally had a difficult time relating to Dr. Aziz’s epiphany, which came during his college years over a video game and a bowl of noodles.”
I liked that. I actually laughed when I read that one. That was good.
“Yes, there was more to his story, but I became a little overwhelmed by all the time he spent describing his girl troubles and sex. It really seemed like this assertiveness training was coming from someone trying to make an awful lot out of a little life experience, which he has. He’s making a career out of it.
“Maybe I’m not his target demographic. Maybe if I had stuck it out, I would have found substantive useful advice. But I think having to muddle through a self-help book actually isn’t helpful at all. Thankfully, Audible allowed me to exchange this work for another title. Had I done my homework and visited Dr. Aziz’s website first, I would have steered clear of this book. It’s full of gimmicky self-promotion. Seriously. There’s even a swimsuit-clad picture of him and his wife locking in a cheesy oceanic embrace at the very bottom of the About page.
“Dr. Aziz appears to be the latest edition of well-educated self-help hacks trying to make a name for themselves.”
I have to say, my reaction to that as I read it was amusement at his humor. I, on some weird level, enjoyed it. Now, that was not normal for me. That was not natural for me. And so even, when I was first reading that, I did the same practice I’ve been doing for more than a year, meditating on it.
My default is I slow down, close everything else out, start to read that and notice. Then, if I feel something coming up in me, I’ll slow down.
That was happening the first time I read it. I sometimes notice an urge to defend myself, explain it all, and convince that person to not see me that way.
Whenever I notice that I just relax and let go and see how to come back into my center and see THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME. THIS IS THEIR PERSPECTIVE.
They can have whatever perspective they want. I don’t need to convince them of anything.
I used to spend almost an hour doing that, and this one was probably four or five minutes of just letting any hooks go. And reading it is actually very amusing.
The review was a thought-out piece. There’s a point to it, there’s follow-up evidence, there’s language, and there are multiple adjectives strung in a row. It’s almost like a writer wrote that.
Of the points, I agree with. The reviewer talks about the theme, Candace, and the beach. I didn’t even like that photo when we took it. It was like a wedding photographer who said to us, “Let’s have you on the beach.” He happened to live in Hawaii, where we had our honeymoon. I felt so uncomfortable doing it. The picture, though, is very beautiful, and Candace loved it. One of my marketing team members saw it and said, “That’s perfect. Let’s put it on the About page. It’s great.” So there it is.
Whenever I see that photo on the page, I take it as an embarrassing inoculation to get over myself and not be so concerned that some of them might think it’s cheesy. So when I read the criticism of it, I laughed out loud. I thought, Yeah, I agree.
To get to this level of lightness and humor around it, YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK.
You have to do those meditations. You have to slow down and notice what the hooks are.
At this point. I've actually consciously sat down and said, “What are the things that someone could say about me that would trigger me?”
I considered each of the things that triggered me until I got okay with them.
Because the more you do that, the freer you become. Because then you no longer have to protect yourself from criticism.
Now, someone can say whatever they want, and I’m okay with it.
The funny thing about the use of profanities in the book is the first time I received a critique of the book, I thought, really? I thought I didn’t curse at all because my last book, “The Art of Extraordinary Confidence,” was just a trash hill. It was full of curse words everywhere, and I received much feedback: some people loved it. Some people hated it.
So for “Not Nice,” the next book, I don't want to alienate anyone with cursing.
But apparently, I did enough to offend people. So we'll see if I can contain the swearing in the next one. Maybe I can't stop myself…
This comes back to being okay with who you are.
The more okay you are with yourself and maybe some of the things you do, the freer you are from that fear of criticism.
I hope you found this entertaining and useful. Until we speak again, may we have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you're awesome.
Reading blogs and watching videos online is a start...
When you are ready to radically transform your confidence so you speak up freely, boldly go after what you want, connect easily with others and be 100% unapologetically yourself, coaching is the answer.