How to Respond to Naysayers without Compromising on your Self-worth

Posted on April 26, 2017

Photo: flickr

For those of us who are harsh internal critics, the amount of destructive power that self-criticism has is no stranger to us. However, it is possible to change the derisive and hurtful tone of these voices in our heads, or at least tone them down and learn to live alongside them. Apart from this, it is perhaps just as, if not more important for us to guard against the harm that external critics can cause us. If those around you do not offer you support and encouragement, or often belittle you, this can make the effects of your self-criticism even worse. However, these people, otherwise known as naysayers, will always be around, so it is our job to learn how to live with them, and to prevent their words from bothering us.

Here are some ways to help you let these harmful words roll off your back:

1. Differentiate between the constructive and the destructive
There are many sorts and types of critics around, as well as criticisms you can receive. Constructive criticism is necessary and good for us; when someone points out what we are doing wrong or how we can improve, we can then overcome these weaknesses and grow. However, there are vast differences between constructive criticism that is meant to be helpful, and destructive criticism that is meant to be hurtful.

In the digital world that we live in today, there are plenty of pranksters on the Internet, otherwise known as internet trolls. Real life people hide behind the anonymity of these personas and post scathing or hurtful remarks online; often, this no longer becomes a harmless prank and actually escalates into a reflection of their dearth of self-compassion. This is an important fact to take note of, regardless of whether the critic is an anonymous web user or someone you know.
Some critics do not even hide behind a wall of anonymity, but smile to your face while insulting you as soon as your back is turned. Others insult you while claiming that they are merely trying to help; when hearing preambles such as “No offence, but…”, or “Not to rain on your parade…”, it is likely that the opposite is going to result.

2. Remove yourself from media for awhile, social and otherwise
In the deep realm of media, we are often convinced that we do not look good enough, that we are intrinsically lacking in some way. This paves the way for all consuming and negative thoughts about ourselves, affecting our self-perception. However, it is important to understand that there will always be critics around to put us down and challenge our sense of worth.

There are many causes of low self-worth; harsh upbringing and living in a consumerist society which destroys self-worth while insinuating that the only way to rebuild it is through materialism are some reasons why people will feel this badly about themselves. The media is perhaps the most notorious for its thinly veiled insults; as aforementioned, we often feel belittled by the numerous advertisements telling us that our physical appearance has much room for improvement, and pressuring us to conform to Eurocentric standards of beauty. Perhaps one way of curbing such destructive criticism would be to break down and unpack the criticism, thinking about it rationally and critically. Only then will we begin to alter the way we react to destructive criticism.

3. Be aware and alert when someone is insulting you
Sometimes, we are caught off guard by insults, so much so that our knee jerk reaction is to believe the criticism and question ourselves, when we should be doing the exact opposite. Sometimes, we do not even realise what is happening until we are told by someone. Hence, it is important to give ourselves a moment to breathe and to think it through before succumbing to our instincts.

4. Consider the source of the criticism
Before we take the criticism to be the absolute truth and start beating ourselves up over it, it is also important to consider who is criticising us, or where the criticism is coming from. Think about whether the critic has any right to criticise you; do you respect this person, or do you even know him or her?

5. Say thank you
Perhaps it would be helpful to think of them not as critics but as teachers or helpers to keep your ego from over-inflating. The next time you encounter a critic, say thank you to them. An example of a thank you message would be: “I hear you, but I’m good. Thank you for your concern.” Again, try not to accept their criticisms blindly. In fact, people who cause us to doubt ourselves, or throw us our greatest challenges can have a lesson or two to teach us.

6. Accept them
Just as there will always be taxes to pay and bills to settle, there will always be critics in our midst. Acceptance is perhaps the mildest and safest option, as well as understanding that no matter how much energy you put in to evoke support from people around you, some simply cannot offer that sort of emotional support. Trying to make everyone happy is only going to set you up for disappointment and failure.

Know that you are your own person, and that you deserve to trust yourself and to trust in the things you are doing. Do not let someone else’s insecurities undermine your own self-worth.

Category(s):Self-Confidence, Self-Criticism, Self-Doubt

Source material from Psychology Today