Everyone has been a victim of criticism, but that doesn't make it any less painful. When we are criticized we can feel embarrassed, angry or even unworthy and unable. Indeed, Winston Churchill compared criticism to physical pain and was not far wrong, as a recent study showed that experiences of rejection, criticism and humiliation are processed in the same brain area that processes physical pain.
Obviously, not all criticism generates these negative experiences, there is constructive criticism that makes you think and helps you grow. To identify it, it is important to understand what motivates people to criticize, if their reasons are valid or, on the contrary, they are just a strategy to reaffirm their power, complain or humiliate.
People criticize because:
1. They feel threatened by some of your qualities and they use criticism as a weapon to try to balance the game. Basically, these people feel inferior, so they attack your weaknesses in an attempt to get you down to their level.
2. They are convinced that they are entitled to special treatment and conditions and they think they are not getting them. In these cases, the person may believe that you owe him something or is simply too self-centered and thinks you should put yourself at his service and, if you don't, criticize you for making you feel bad.
3. Likes to feel responsible for the situation at all times and get scared when they feel they are losing control. In these cases, criticizing you gives them back, at least in part, the feeling of control because they believe they are diminishing you and taking control.
4. They want to make a profit. In this case, they are likely to criticize you in front of someone else, to make sure you look better, both at work and with friends. Behavior that shows that they see you as a rival or competitor.
5. They think they are helping you, because they offer you some of their wisdom or experience. In fact, many painful criticisms can hide good intentions, even if they are done the wrong way.
6. They think that only their points of view are valid, so they criticize you when you have the courage to suggest something different, which is often considered a personal attack, because, deep down, these people are often very insecure.
7. They try to get your attention, but since they lack social and / or emotional skills, they can't do it assertively, so they end up criticizing, complaining, or whining.
8. They seek admiration and approval. In fact, when people think they are experts in any field, they often criticize others to prove what they know and reaffirm their position, seeking admiration.
9. They are frustrated because they have tried to express their own needs or opinions more assertively, but you didn't pay attention to them and, as a result, they unload all that anger into criticism.
10. They feel hurt by your words or actions, perhaps unintentional, but they do not dare to say it directly and hide this dissatisfaction under a more or less reasonable criticism.
11. They are projecting their fears and insecurities. In fact, when people do not accept some of their characteristics and recognize them in others, they generate deep rejection in them and open the way to criticism.
12. They try to take revenge on you for some situation never fully assimilated, so they transform criticism into an instrument of humiliation and shame.
13. They need to feel powerful, even if it means passing over you. To achieve this, they use criticism as a stick with which to hit you.
14. They perceived your words or attitudes as criticism, so they went straight to the counterattack.
15. They envy you or admire you, but they fail to express those emotions correctly, so they end up criticizing those very qualities.
How to react to criticism?
How you react to criticism largely depends on the situation and the reasons for it. In fact, there are cases in which it is better not to, because reacting to criticism would only serve to further exalt the other person and satisfy his desire for leadership and control. In these cases it is better to ignore them, because trying to defend yourself would only lead to a dead end. Therefore, if possible, ignore it.
When someone who criticizes you is important to you, you want to pay attention to them and let them know that you value and love them, even if you don't agree with their opinion. You can also point out that you respect their ideas and efforts, but always assert your independence and the right to make your own decisions.
When it comes to a criticism made in public and you want to defend yourself, it is better that you do it not with another criticism but focusing only on dismantling what the other has said, keeping calm. Often a quiet, concise, and intelligent response is enough to make a good impression on others.
In any case, it is always advisable to reflect on criticism and, if it contains some truth, to correct our behavior, an attitude that indicates maturity.