Today I’d like to explore a common issue readers email me about. An issue that have been quite painful for me too in the past.
This article is about how to handle criticism or verbal attacks.
Or more specifically, what to do when something someone says really gets under your skin and hurts you.
And how to replace destructive thought habits with more positive habits and through that make this a much smaller issue.
Step 1: Let it out.
The first thing I often do after I notice that something did actually get under my skin is to talk it over with someone close to me.
By just letting it out and venting you can release a lot of inner tension and the two of you can find a more helpful and healthier perspective on what has gotten under your skin.
Step 2: Ask yourself: is the person having a bad day or year?
When my self-esteem was lower than it is today then I used to think that pretty much all the negative things people said to me was in some way my fault.
However, that is often not the case. People can verbally attack you or nag or criticize harshly because they may have had an awful day or week. Or simply because they do not like their lives very much at all.
So don’t think this is all about you. There are two of you in this situation.
Step 3: Ask yourself: could there be something here that could help me?
This question is not always fun to ask yourself. And it doesn’t always lead anywhere at all. But after you have calmed down by using the steps above it can be helpful.
Especially if this is the fifth or tenth time you have heard the same thing from people. Then there might be something here you would like to work on.
So at least take a minute or two to think about it.
Bonus-step: Learn how to improve and keep your self-esteem steady.
I have improved my own self-esteem a lot and teaching people to do that for themselves is something that is very close to my heart.
Because I know how it is to have low self-esteem and how limited and unhappy life can become. And I know the difference that having a mental self-esteem toolbox and healthier thought habits makes.
Less stuff gets under your skin for example. It bounces off of you. It does not drag you down and ruin your day or week.
Improving your self-esteem takes time and energy but making the effort is one of the smartest and most happinessboosting things you can do.
Two simple things you can do to start improving your self-esteem this week are:
- When you stumble, be your own best friend. Instead of beating yourself up, ask yourself: How would my friend/parent support me and help me in this situation? Then do things and talk to yourself like he or she would.
- Be kind towards the people in your life. Help out. Listen. Give a genuine compliment. Encourage and motivate. The way you treat other people is how they will most often treat you too in the long run. And when you are kinder towards others then you tend to treat and think of yourself in a kinder way too.
Image by Pedro Ribeiro Simões (license).