Criticism and judgment, as parts of mortality, are present in various forms and are encountered inevitably throughout our lifetime. It can be given to us by family, friends, workmates, and even strangers as we interact with them. These feedbacks come as the result of our evolved human nature as we present ourselves to the world. After all, we are born into a society with norms, values, and expectations.
While negative feedback can often be perceived as hurtful and soul-crushing, it serves a purpose. When taken positively, it can help our personal growth and make us function even better as a member of a family, as an employee, as a friend, or simply as a member of society. It acts as a mirror, reflecting our actions, decisions, and behaviors, allowing us to assess ourselves and make necessary improvements.
Constructive criticisms can be incredibly valuable, as they bring to your attention your blind spots and provide opportunities to enhance skills, knowledge, and relationships.
However, judgment is an inevitable consequence of criticism. As humans, we possess an innate tendency to evaluate and categorize others based on their appearance, beliefs, actions, or choices. And more often than not, judgment can be influenced by prejudice or bias. So at times, criticism can be baseless and hurtful.
Excessive criticism and harsh judgment hurt one’s self-esteem and mental well-being. The fear of being ridiculed or rejected is always there. Some people resort to conforming to societal expectations, hindering personal growth and stifling creativity and individuality. Some go into depression. The embarrassment may not go away so easily.
Bouncing back from hurtful negative feedback
The truth of the matter is that bouncing back from negativity is really easier said than done. But it has to be done. So how can you bounce back?
The truth is, bouncing back from the negativity of criticism and judgment can be hard, especially if it comes from the people you value. The words, the scenario of how it happened, and the faces of the people who heard it replay in your head over and over. You beat yourself up and start to feel your confidence wearing out.
You are allowed to feel terrible. It’s natural to feel put off and devastated. It’s okay to feel that for a day or two. But then you have to pull yourself together and try to take it as constructive criticism.
Negative feedback, criticisms, and judgments from others can be challenging to deal with, but it’s important to remember that everyone, if given the opportunity, can express their opinions, whether to their own liking or not. True or not, it’s the way you react to it that will determine your fate.
Here are some specific steps you can take to bounce back and effectively handle such criticism or judgment:
- Stay calm and avoid taking it personally
While negative feedback can feel hurtful, it’s crucial to separate your personal worth from the comments directed at you. If the feedback has its own merits, remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and use the feedback as an opportunity for growth. That is especially true if the feedback is coming from your boss. Remind yourself that the boss is just doing their job.
It’s your job to receive the feedback and learn from it. Don’t take it personally. One day, you might just thank your boss for the feedback.
- Assess the feedback objectively
Take a step back and evaluate the feedback or criticism from an objective standpoint. Is there any truth to it? Is it constructive? Sometimes negative feedback can provide valuable insights that you can use to improve yourself or your work.
- Consider the source
Sometimes others are just making harsh judgments because they are being hateful. They will say what they want to say just to hurt you. So you must also take into account the credibility and intentions of the person providing the feedback. Do not let the person who just wants to hurt you win by showing them how they managed to successfully hurt you.
If it’s someone you trust or whose opinion you value, their criticism might hold more weight. The feedback came from love and concern, so consider it. However, if it’s from someone with a negative agenda or limited knowledge, you can choose to give less importance to their comments.
- Seek different perspectives
Don’t rely solely on one person’s opinion; seek feedback from others as well. This will help you gain a more balanced view and determine whether the criticism is a recurring issue or just an isolated incident. Also, ask yourself. Be honest. Surely you know yourself better than anyone else.
- Respond gracefully or ignore:
Depending on the situation, you can always choose to respond politely and graciously thank the person for their feedback, even if you don’t agree with it. Alternatively, if the criticism is baseless or unproductive, it might be best to ignore it and prioritize your mental well-being.
- Learn from the feedback
Negative feedback often provides an opportunity for growth and self-improvement if you practice the importance of being teachable and if you keep an open mind. Reflect on the feedback and identify any areas where you could make adjustments or enhancements. Sometimes criticism can even spark innovative ideas or prompt a fresh perspective.
- Practice self-care
Dealing with negative feedback, no matter how positive you are, can be emotionally draining, so make sure you take care of yourself. Pamper yourself and give yourself some time to find joy again. Spend time with loved ones and focus on your positive attributes.
When all is said and done, criticism and judgment foster self-reflection, resilience, and adaptability. They push individuals to examine their actions, decisions, and values to continue to grow as they navigate through complex social dynamics.
Receiving such feedback also encourages empathy and understanding, as being on the receiving end of judgment allows us to connect with the experiences of others and develop compassion.
Whether we internalize negative feedback, challenge it, or use it as motivation for improvement, it shapes our journey, helping us become more self-aware, empathetic, and open-minded individuals.