How To Be Okay With Criticism

Productivity, Sales Mindset


I just spent two weeks in India with my husband’s family and I got to take a yoga class every morning while I was there.  It was a wonderful way to meet other women entrepreneurs and create a solid morning personal success routine (check out my Six Steps to Make Every Day Easier for Women Entrepreneurs article to get more on daily routines).

One morning, there were about 8 students in the class and we were all mindfully doing a sun salutation sequence.  It was a little harder than usual – but I was welcoming the challenge.

I heard a woman sighing loudly on my back left and noticed she was having a hard time.  I was reminded of the many times I had done yoga and spent the whole class wishing it was over.  It’s such a learning experience to stay present when your body isn’t cooperating!

A sound made me look to the front of the room.  The woman walked quickly to the front where the exit was, grabbed all of her stuff, and left in a huff.  There was some angry chatter at the front desk that we could all hear before the door slammed behind her.

The frazzled yoga teacher (let’s call her Reena) said, “If you are uncomfortable with a pose, please ask me –there’s no need to walk out angry.  That’s completely wrong.”  She was clearly upset.  The rest of us were fine and continued with the class.

But Reena didn’t let it go.  Five minutes later, she yelled down to the front desk, “Take that woman off the list.  Don’t let her back into class.”

We kept going.  Now, I was mildly upset that Reena was letting a stranger intrude on my yoga experience with these amazing women entrepreneurs.

I commented to Reena, “It was her issue, not yours.  The class is great.”  I heard a few of the other students murmur in agreement.  But Reena wasn’t hearing it.

Ten minutes later, she commented, “I don’t know why people just leave like that.  It’s so frustrating.”

Reena couldn’t let it go – she continued to comment during the class.  It had clearly ruined her composure and robbed her of this beautiful time in class.

How many times have we all done this?  Let one bad comment or experience ruin a whole day or a whole week.  It completely sabotages our personal success.

One of my new clients was a brand new coach.  One of her first clients got upset with her and cancelled the program.  When I met my client, she had spent 4 months hiding behind building her website because she had made up a story that she wasn’t good enough to actually coach.  She had allowed one client to ruin her entire self confidence – and had lost 4 months of her life in the process.

Most of the time we don’t even realize we are doing it, especially as the nurturing women entrepreneurs that we are.  We just think that we should blame ourselves and feel wrong.

In my Revenue Breakthrough Intensives (intimate mastermind-style events) I often talk to people who say things like, “I’m not a good speaker,” or “I can’t do social media.”  But when I get down to the root of it – that opinion is based on the fact that they received negative feedback or a couple of nasty comments.  Or even that they are afraid of people making those nasty comments.

I’m the first to admit that mean comments suck!  But I’m so tired of seeing beautiful entrepreneurs get stuck in negativity because of what someone else said.  So here’s five steps to handle critical comments without letting them stop you:

1. Get validation.  Talk to a coach, mentor or friend about what the person said.  They will usually put the comment into perspective for you.  Do your best to believe them.

2. Take the truth, leave the rest.  Sometimes there’s a kernel of truth in mean comments.  Maybe you could have been more present, or more organized or more on top of things.  No one is perfect.  But remember that nobody has the right to give you constructive feedback wrapped in ugly comments.  Let go of the ugly comments and take the kernel of truth to make a change.

3. It’s about them, not you.  I’ll never forget this story from Suzanne Evans – one of my mentors.  She told me that often people would come up to her after an event and comment on her weight.  She would reply, “What part of me being overweight makes you insecure?”  Brilliant, right?

When people make mean comments or do mean things – it’s because you have triggered their wounds or insecurities in some way.  So they are lashing out at you.

When you remember this – you’ll be able to respond with compassion instead of anger.

4. Be upset. Just make it short.  Having said all of the above – I’m also clear that sometimes (maybe most of the time) mean comments just hurt and they get in the way of our personal success.  And there’s nothing we can do but feel the pain of them.  That’s OK.  But just be sure to make it short – don’t let their insecurities ruin your week or your month.  You are worth so much more than that.

5. Explore your own wounds.  If you find you are still carrying a comment after some time, talk to someone about it.  Because what has likely happened is that someone else’s comment triggered your own wounds.  For example, if you’ve always been worried about your organizational skills, and then one of your clients complains in a hurtful way that you are disorganized, it’s going to hurt!  The wound was already there.  Your client just poured salt on it.

From a spiritual perspective – these comments often show up in our lives to expose our wounds and force us to heal them.  So don’t stuff down these emotions.  Work with a coach to feel them, trace them to a core wound, and then let them go.  That way the next person who makes a similar comment won’t cause the same level of pain.

The next time someone makes a hurtful comment to you or about you – use these steps to work through it and let it go.  Because every time you do – you’ll heal yourself and get stronger and stronger (and be able to help so many other women entrepreneurs struggling with the same problem).  Here’s to letting go of criticism and stepping into our power.

I’d love to hear what this brought up for you – I’m starting a discussion on dealing with criticism in my FB group – click here to see the comments and join the FB group.

Photo: flickr, girlfridayflickr

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