how to deal with criticism and rejection

How to deal with Criticism and Rejection without losing your Self-Confidence

It is indeed heart wrenching when you put a great deal of effort into something, and all you get in return is criticism or rejection. Truth is that it’s difficult to please everyone, and life rarely works the way we expect.

Criticism and rejection are inevitable parts of life, and they should never stop you from pursuing your dreams. Today I’ll let you in on the secrets on how to deal with criticism and rejection without losing your self-confidence.  

Some of us take criticism and rejection too personally and let it shake our self-confidence. We feel hurt, angry, ashamed, or discouraged, which makes us doubt our abilities and worth. At times, hearing a single bad comment or ‘no’ is all it takes to shatter our composure. We stop taking risks or trying new things out of fear of failure and judgment.

Whether you’re interacting with your boss, partner, a friend, or even strangers on the internet, you will encounter some form of negative feedback from time to time. How you cope with it can make or break your future, so stay tuned. Believe it or not, healthy and productive ways to tackle problems always exist, so you can grow as a person and achieve your goals.

1.    Accept the Criticism/Rejection with grace

Criticism can be constructive or destructive, depending upon how it is delivered and received. The key is to take it objectively and not be too quick to jump to conclusions. Pause and think before you react; keep in mind that your response should always be positive and respectful, regardless of the tone directed at you. Do not dismiss anything right away or assume that it is wrong or biased.

Take a moment to understand the perception and intention of the one addressing you. Be the bigger person by thanking the critic for their feedback and acknowledge their effort and courage to share their opinion with you. This will show them that you value input and welcome different points of view.

2.    Never Counterattack

Sometimes it is obvious that the person criticizing you is doing so out of spite or that you have been rejected on unreasonable grounds. If this is the case, do not let your raging emotions get the best of you. If you’re going to retaliate with some harsh words and actions, you’re literally stooping to their level. Surprise your attackers and demonstrate authority by being polite and unbothered.

When you believe in yourself and it shows, your enemies are automatically reduced to dust. Let the haters hate, and you just continue being your best self. Focus on the people who praise your efforts and achievements, and the negativity shall fade out on its own. Keep calm because beating yourself up over the opinions of people that don’t matter is irrational.

3.    Work through your Emotions

Rejection and criticism may trigger a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, and shame. These feelings are a natural response of our body, so there’s no point in suppressing or denying them. It is vital to allow yourself to experience and express them in a healthy manner. Rejection is the loss of something you hoped to achieve. It is okay to grieve for something you lost, but don’t dwell on these feelings for too long.

You can cry to relieve you aching heart, punch a bag to release the fury, take some time alone to get over the fleeting embarrassment, and practice mindfulness. Remember that rejection and criticism are bound to come your way from time to time. Acknowledge the fact that there will be wins and failures along the way, so you need to keep going.

4.    Ponder and Question

Criticism and rejection could be justified in certain scenarios. Remember that nobody is perfect, and our failures pave the way to success. Not all criticism and rejection are equal – some come from people who care about you and want to help you grow, such as your friends, family, mentors, or colleagues. These people have your best interest at heart and offer constructive feedback to help you make progress. Even criticism or rejection from a stranger can be an important life lesson.

When someone points out your shortcomings, try to be open-minded about it. This kind of attitude will allow you to improve and enhance your skills. It is always smart to ask questions and welcome advice from people with greater knowledge and experience. Criticism or rejection is to be seen as an opportunity to do better and broaden one’s horizons.

5.    Prepare for the Worst

When I say ‘prepare for the worst’, I am not asking you to be pessimistic. However, considering all sorts of probable outcomes is a realistic approach. When you’re going in for a job interview, be open to the possibility that another candidate could be a better fit for the positon. Similarly, if you are submitting an essay or review, it is wise to presume that few or many people might not like it.  

Criticism/rejection is predictable most of the time, especially if you invite diverse perspectives and boldly lay out your vision before a large audience. Have some responses handy on your phone, a piece of paper, or sticky note if there’s the slightest of chance to be called out. Something you say or do might offend someone or hit a sore spot, so remain ready with a counter argument to justify yourself.

6.    Turn Lemons to Lemonade

This is easier said than done, but it is crucial to remember that criticism and rejection are not reflections of who you are as a person. They are feedback on your actions, choices, or performance, and they can be influenced by many factors that have nothing to do with you.

More than often, a rejection or negative comment has more to do with the mood, expectation, preference, or bias of an individual. Try to detach yourself from the off-putting emotions and focus on the facts behind the words.

What can I learn from this? How can I improve? Is there any truth or value in what they are saying? Ask yourself these questions and then reframe everything positively. Despite being painful, this could be the turning point in your life (in a good way).

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! For instance, if a potential employer turns you down, do not assume you weren’t good enough. Believe that you have gained valuable experience that has increased your chances of acing the next interview!

7.    Celebrate your strengths and accomplishments

Criticism and rejection makes us feel insecure and inadequate, but they do not erase all the great things we have accomplished. Do not let someone’s judgement or opinion overshadow your strengths and capabilities. Remind yourself of all the obstacles you have overcome and everything you have acquired so far. Be proud of yourself and your work! Recognize your value and potential!

Criticism and rejection can make you forget all the good things and focus on your flaws and failures instead. To counteract this tendency, remind yourself of your skills, talents, qualities, and successes. Make a list of all the things you are good at, all the things you have done well, all the things you are proud of, all the things that make you unique and valuable. Review this list regularly and add to it as you accomplish more in life.

P.S: Work on your self-confidence because the more you value yourself and your abilities, the less you will be affected by someone else’s opinions. Remember that everyone experiences rejection and criticism multiple times in the course of a lifetime – it is among the most normal parts of life. You are not alone in feeling excluded or hurt by others. Don’t isolate yourself or feel ashamed of such instances.

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