Criticism Does Not Have to Get You Down

By Suzanne E. Harrill        

Are you overly sensitive to criticism? Are you a good critic yourself? It goes both ways usually. Criticism experienced from others almost, if not always has a component of projection on the other person’s part. When it hurts us, we benefit from realizing we have a hidden match within ourselves or it would simply roll off of us like water on a duck’s back. Our opportunity for growth is to detach from another’s projections and to uncover our own destructive self-criticism lurking in the shadows of our minds so we can transform our thinking patterns. Let us look at projection to understand it better and create positive affirmations to update our negative, critical self-talk.

What is projection? It is a psychological defense mechanism where we find something difficult to acknowledge, or own, within our own personality so we see it in other people. Since we dislike the trait, behavioral pattern, action, or emotion so much we only see it in others and many times it turns into criticizing them for what we do not like in ourselves. Now at some level we cannot really hide from ourselves and the projection and criticism comes out in such things as our dreams, our fears, shame, guilt, or negative self-talk.  For some it implodes to the point that we become accident prone, have anger problems, are unable to sleep through the night, or want to numb out with alcohol or drugs.

Part of the inner work necessary to become less sensitive to other people’s criticism, is to see their projections, have compassion for them, and root out all the places within our own minds that agree with them in an unhealthy way. Ask yourself what are your beliefs about the other person’s fault finding of you. Where do you secretly have the same thoughts about yourself? We stop being defensive when we are able to own what is inside us and begin healing our own beliefs of low self-worth and toxic shame and guilt. Slowly we can detach from critical attacks and see it as their problem not ours. We might then be able to say such things as, “That’s an interesting point of view,” or “I don’t see it that way, that is not my experience.” Or we might ignore the criticism and use active listening to get to the bottom of what her/his problem is and help her/him to verbalize what s/he is really asking for.

How do we heal our own inner critic? Use your current wisdom to talk to yourself through old, binding belief systems, create affirmations, and use the help of a higher power.  I, too, have had times when I needed to talk more kindly to my younger self for my critical perceptions of past actions and reactions.  The following is a positive dialog with self to begin the healing process.

 “I need to realize that it took every experience, both the good and bad feeling ones, to get where I am today in consciousness. I would not have my current awareness if I had not made choices that took me in painful directions and taught me what not to choose. Once I have learned from this feedback of the choices I made, some call them mistakes, I do not have to keep going back into the past and beating myself up.”

It is helpful to list the negative, critical things I say to myself and then create affirmations to update the limiting belief. If, for example, I say to myself, “I feel so humiliated and stupid for having poor boundaries with so and so. I can’t believe how naďve and powerless I was to allow myself to stay in that rejecting situation that tore down my self-esteem,” then I can say new things to myself; such as,  “ I am a loving, giving person and I did nothing wrong by being too open and trusting. I have my power now and will never again be in that kind of situation for long.  I know now to gauge where another is coming from before getting too close emotionally. My openness is a good trait and I use it wisely now.”

One way I criticize myself is to go back in time, see a situation, and judge myself with my current level of awareness. I must STOP myself when I catch myself doing this to my younger, less aware self. It helps to remind myself that I would not act or speak or interpret the situation the old way if it came up now or in the future. I had to do it that way for me to have the wisdom and discernment that I have today. I remind myself to have compassion for my younger self who was less aware and who would benefit from my kind words, not criticism. So I might say things to my younger self like, “You did a good job with what you knew about yourself and life at that time. The school of hard knocks gave you feedback to gather more information and move in a new direction. I appreciate the courage it took to take new risks. Thank you for your unaware actions because it helped me be the person of wisdom I am today.”

Now if this does not cut it for you and you need spiritual backing to let up on yourself, you might follow the 12-Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. You might be familiar with this path. By adapting the 12-Steps to this situation, you admit you are powerless to stop your negative thoughts that criticize and torment you. At the end of this article is my version of the 12-Steps for Building Self-Esteem.

The next time you are under fire from a critical person, remember you have options now to change how it affects you. See their projections and your inner matches. Spend time alone to update your beliefs and self talk to be your own best friend. Finally, use God as you understand God to help you.


Twelve Steps of AA Adapted to Building Self-Esteem.

  1. I admit my little self (ego, conditioned self) is powerless to control my negative  thoughts and feelings.  My life of feeling unworthy is not working and is unmanageable.

  2. I believe my wholeness depends on experiencing Love from God as I understand God (Higher Self, God Within, Christ, Jesus, Budda, The Universe).        

  3. I choose to turn my life over to the care and direction of my Higher Self to become fully conscious, a self-actualized being.

  4. I continue to know myself, looking at all past behavior, guiding beliefs, perceptions, projections, and feelings that have manifested negatively in my life.

  5. I admit and forgive myself for fearful thoughts, words, actions, and reactions that blocked Love in my life.

  6. I am ready to transform all aspects of myself that block the power of Love in my life.

  7.  I humbly ask God to achieve this transformation.

  8. I make a list of all the situations and people whom I believe I have hurt or whom I feel have hurt me because of unawareness.  I am willing to make peace with and forgive my past.

  9. I heal these relationships directly unless it does not support the highest good.

  10. I continue to expand my awareness and heal negative patterns that I see.  I admit my mistakes openly and take responsibility for my life.

  11. I experience more and more Love consciously from my higher Self through prayer, meditation, and contemplation.  I choose to consciously express this Divine Love through me.

  12. I am an awakening spiritual being, as a result of practicing these steps.  I continue to practice these principles to love myself and to pass it on to all others. I share this love and awareness with others who choose my assistance.






Love Offerings and Tithes Appreciated
Send to

View Alphabetical Article List from InnerWords Messenger


View Back Issues

Tell A Friend

Innerworks Publishing         Site Credits

E-mail your articles, questions or humor to:

Copyright © 2003-2017 Innerworks Publishing -- All Rights Reserved