Is Criticism Getting You Down? 7 Ways To Minimize Its Harm

Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

Does it ever seem relentless? The complaining? The criticism? The attacking? Do you ever feel like throwing your hands up in despair? Do you ever feel like giving up? To be honest, there have been times when I have felt that way.

Well, I am here to tell you: DON’T DESPAIR!

I am here to tell you a secret about criticism from the complainers, the critics and the attackers. They do not want you to know that deep down inside: they are scared.

Scared of what?

It could be

  • looking bad
  • being cheated
  • looking stupid
  • being excluded
  • making a mistake
  • feeling their own vulnerability
  • or anything else that might be a reason to feel bad.

Let’s face it we all can find reasons to feel bad. In fact, people probably feel bad more often than not and that is not a great way to live.

The HSP Advantage With Criticism

You as a highly sensitive person have an advantage: the advantage of empathy.

Granted it can be hard to feel empathetic when dealing with criticism.  So here are some ways to change the conversation to one that is more accommodating to you:

  1. sometimes empathy works.  People will displace their anger from one event onto someone else.  So if a close friend’s boss was nasty and they could not afford to stand up to that person, your friend might take it out on you.  When this happens, your insight can help you offer empathy for a bad day.
  2. sometimes you can point out something that someone does not know. Being able to offer a reason for something that makes neither one of you the villain or the victim is a wonderful strategy for defusing negativity. Providing new information can help the other person to see that you have their best interests at heart.
  3. sometimes distance is a good idea.  The chronic complainer and self-pitier can be very draining. Suggesting a helpful resource may be the best you can do. However, when the individual does not pursue a solution, you may have to let go.
  4. sometimes a complainer needs to be challenged.  Perhaps you are aware of a very negative outcome if you did what the complainer wants.  It can be a good idea to challenge their intended result.  ” Are you saying you would want —- to happen?”
  5. sometimes people complain because they are really afraid to try something different. Pointing out success stories can help with this kind of fear.
  6. sometime people criticize because they are disappointed with themselves. It is a form of undermining and it is important not to get sucked into this kind of negativity. You can offer encouragement, notice the good in the individual but you cannot overcome someone else’s negativity.  They have to do that for themselves.
  7. sometimes when people are afraid of looking bad or making a mistake, a humanizing story of your own foibles makes them feel better.  Or perhaps they just need additional information to feel secure.

Sometimes, however, you have to take care of yourself first, by taking time to take a deep breath when someone’s criticism is difficult and you have to deal with them.

A general approach for handling negativity is to be compassionate without becoming a victim by getting sucked into someone else’s negativity. We all have disappointments and discouragement in our lives.  If we can lift each other up, that is generally a better course than adding to the negativity.

There is an abundance of fear in the world.  Whenever you reduce fear even a little, you make the world a better place. And doing your best with the unhappiness of others is something to feel good about.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program using cultural and personal development frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers The Magic Of Joy program for quantum healing and the Emerging Sensitive Community focused on living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is a Certified Theta Healer and certified in Spiral Dynamics. She is an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Maria Hill on June 27, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Hi Donna,

    Thank you for your comments. Many forms of abuse are caused by issues around roles and expectations. Neither has anything to do with the gifts you offer the world and your inherent goodness which is there no matter how much other people miss it. Meditation helps and great self care is a noble act of defiance.

    All the best,

  2. David Irawan on June 20, 2016 at 2:53 am

    very nice article, thanks for information

    • Judith Fine-Sarchielli on May 24, 2021 at 7:58 am

      Thanks so much for your sensible advice. Sometimes all we can do is let go energetically if not able to leave the critical, controlling person.

      I am grateful for this mirror to learn some positive muscle building lessons about patience, compassion, kindness, and listening in the face of controlling people.