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How To Deal With Criticism

Published on 14th September 2015

Young hearts, growing minds and thick skin are all so necessary for our quarter lives. But handling criticism can be really tough, even if we have been facing it for 20-something years. It's a tricky balance to strike—between finding learning moments and letting our spirits deflate in recoil.

There's a Buddhist concept of experiencing feelings through a waterfall. The idea is that you're standing behind a sheet of water, water made up of all your most intense flushes of anger or embarrassment or whatever the emotion may be. You must be present to all your feelings, but you mustn't be carried away by them. You observe the rushing water, you experience the emotions, maybe even reach out and touch. But you don't jump, you don't drown.

Dealing with criticism is very similar. It's important to witness criticism, to recognize it from behind waterfall. Not to ignore and not to immerse but simply to recognize. The arms-length distance will allow you to process the information and decide for yourself if it matters to you, if it holds enough truth and meaning to require action.

You won't deem all criticism to be an accurate reflection of yourself. And of the criticism that does seem spot on, some may not matter at all. Every one of us has flaws, and that's a beautiful thing. It's not a healthy (or realistic) goal to seek perfection. Once in a while though, you'll realize that there's something you really can and should be working on—those are moments to be thankful for. These are learning moments, moments that will ultimately challenge us and help us grow.