Criticism can cut you down or build you up depending on how you react. The choice is yours. In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, David Burns writes about the three reactions to criticism.
The Three Reactions to Criticism
There's three ways to react:
- Sad route - “I’m no good.”
- Mad route - “You’re no good.”
- Glad route - “Here’s a chance to learn something.”
The Sad Route
In this case, you let the criticism cut you down. You might even magnify the criticism. For example you might overgeneralize it and conclude your life is a string of errors. You might label yourself a screw up. The result is you end up sad and anxious. If you choose this path, it’s a road to depression and low-self esteem.
The Mad Route
In this case, you attack your critic. You go into fight or flight mode. The result is that you feel angry and frustrated.
The Glad Route
In this case, you either have self-esteem or act as if you did. Your response is investigative. Does the criticism contain a grain of truth? The glad route is gives you more options. By asking a series of questions, you’re in a position to offer a solution. If you need to compromise you can negotiate. If you were wrong you can admit it. If the critic was mistaken, you can tactfully point it out.
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