Dealing with Rejection and Criticism
Experiencing hurt feelings after rejection or criticism is normal. But, if you respond too strongly to rejection or criticism – which could mean experiencing anxiety, shame, anger or strong defensiveness – then you may need to understand why you respond so strongly and what you can do to prevent it.
People who are oversensitive to criticism or rejection may have developed the oversensitivity from childhood experiences. Children who had trouble getting along with others; who did not receive praise for their accomplishments; or whose parents had overly high expectations, gave overly strong criticism or who shielded them from every little critique are more likely to develop oversensitivity issues.
When receiving criticism, there are steps you can take to process it in a healthy manner. Be calm, request clarity if you do not understand and, no matter what, thank the person for his/her feedback. Above all, do not just react to the criticism out of anger or shame. Instead, assess the criticism to understand if it even has value. If you determine that the criticism has no value to you or your goals, then you should easily move on from it.
Other ways to deal with criticism include understanding that the criticism may hurt in the short term, but it hasn’t ruined or broken you. You will recover from it. You also can learn to think more positively about criticism in that you understand that criticism can help you develop into a better person or professional. You should begin to see criticism as something you can learn from.
When dealing with rejection, you need to understand and confront the emotions you are feeling – whether it is shame, anger, sadness or disappointment – instead of suppressing them. Suppressing your emotions will only cause you to feel pain over the rejection longer. Also, understand that rejection is a sign that you are taking risks in your life. Never experiencing rejection means that you are living life on the “safe” side rather than trying to experience new or more exciting things.
After a rejection, treat yourself well. Do not get down on yourself and feel as though something is wrong with you. Instead, treat yourself kindly. Give yourself messages of support like a good friend would. And above all, just like with criticism, learn from rejection.
But, if none of these methods work and you still have serious problems coping with criticism and rejection, then seeing a therapist can help. Therapists can help you understand why you have trouble dealing with criticism and rejection and find personalized ways to help you cope better.