How to Cope with Criticism

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When I was in fourth grade, someone told me I had a “critical spirit.” I had no clue what she meant by that. I remember trying to process her meaning and coming up short. I was only about ten years old and though I’m no longer ten, I still have to wonder her point of telling me that at that age. I felt confused and thought she just didn’t like me. Ironically enough, that was my beginning to dealing with criticism, even though I had no clue what the word meant.

whimsical wednesday

Maybe you know someone with a critical spirit. They point out not only your flaws, but the flaws of everyone around them. They notice every detail, pride themselves on the fact, and keep an eagle eye out for that one wrong thing to “pop up.”

Having a game plan for how to cope with criticism is half the battle of dealing with it. Though I’ve not perfected my plan to the “T” (or would that be “P?”) I’ve been forced to learn how to handle myself when criticized. Remember I said I’ve not perfected this, will you?  So today, on this wonderful Whimsical Wednesday, let’s discuss how to cope with criticism.

ways to cope with criticism

1. Design a plan for coping with criticism.

Maybe your first step is deciding if the criticism is justified. The second is deciding if you want to discuss the justification or lack thereof. The third is reminding yourself of the tone you want to use.

I tend to think through my mom’s old saying: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

While she used this to help me think through my own thoughts and actions PRIOR to the behavior, these three questions can be advantageous in processing criticism directed towards you as well.

If the words are true, then do I truly believe the best case scenario is to explain the “why?” Or can I simply let it go because God knows why and that is enough?

If the words are kind, then the case is closed. Though the results of the words may sting, if this person loves me, they are extending themselves to be kind. I have to make myself willing to improve.

If the words are necessary, then can I grasp their meaning or do I need to discuss the issue further?

The above is simply a suggestion. I would encourage you to think through the times you’ve been criticized in the past and how you handled it. Then think how would you handle it differently now. Based on the comparisons, design a short plan for responding to criticism.

2. After a plan for handling criticism is in place, make it creative enough to memorize.

Acronyms, a catchy one phrase tune, whatever you need to do- but have that plan memorized! I have a little rhyme I use to sift through negativity aimed my way. I shared it on The Better Mom this week:

Mine is Think.Blink.Wink. I think about the issue, especially how it is simply a “blink” in time and I wink my eye, recognizing the brevity of the situation.

So many times the long term effects are non-existent if I can stretch myself to look that direction instead of focusing on the immediate present.

3. Demo the plan.

You can play through a scenario in your mind a thousand times over, but it may not play out the way it did in your mind. Try out your creative, coping plan and test the waters. Give it a few trials to determine how well it is working. Don’t gauge the success of the plan on one effort! The success of the plan should be gauged on how well it assists you in responding with your desired attitude and mindset.

4. Most of all, PRAY!

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matt. 5:44

If you can’t find the words, then take a look at this post from last week- a prayer for when you have been criticized. Remember that the Holy Spirit is always our present Helper!

How do you cope with criticism? Whether you are a blogger linking up or a reader who loves to think, I’d love it if you’d share your ideas!




  1. Hi Rachel,

    Extremely wise post! Those three questions are simple to remember and shed light on the pondering.

    There is one thing I have learned that I would like to add. Is my perspective of the situation from my filtered lens from being hurt in the past? Is this what the person truly meant or was the scenario to what was said in reality how I take it and it is not what the person meant? I’ve had to ponder this many times from my own hurts.

    Rachel, you said you are not perfect, but I newly discovered the phrase and like because I believe it applies: “Practice makes progress” and progress is what we can attain and what Jesus is looking for.

    Thank you for this very wise post. I will keep this for future encouragement and reference.



  2. Thank you for this post. I am struggling how to cope with my mother-in-law’s criticism. She is being very hurtful (she thinks she is well-meaning but she is choosing to misinterpret everything I say through a negative filter and heaps insults and generalizations on top of it). For now, I have told her I need to distance myself from her (so I can work on my feelings without completely loosing it with her – and thus, giving her more “ammo” to aim at me). It has been 4 or 5 months. It is very painful and against my nature. She is kicking me while I’m down, too, because we recently relocated (among other trials too) and no longer have our close friends and church nearby to rely on for help with babysitting, and confiding. I’ve been praying for a resolution, and for my words (as well as my husband’s)

    1. oh so tough, Jenny! My prayers for your wisdom and her understanding. May God give you strength and Christian connections in your new location!

      1. Thank you! Her and I are so similar in so many ways, I think I trip myself up, sometimes, expecting her to understand things the way I present them when, really, her approach and interpretation is from a completely different angle and it is frustrating when words and interpretations get filed and recorded – in the wrong place.

        I am learning a lot about my need for (healthy) self confidence with humility (which I need to work on every day). I tend to be a people-pleaser. Somewhere along the way, in the past easy years, I have forgotten I need to die to my sin every day and rely on our gracious and merciful God, every day, and trust him to work out this issue in His time. I am praying He will change her heart, and mine as well.

  3. I don’t have a plan to deal with criticism, and maybe that’s part of the problem. When I am criticized, I really fall apart – usually on the inside. You see, it hurts, and it hurts the most because I tend to internalize it and believe it. I am also very self-critical, so I buy into the comments of others.

    I once took a public speaking class, and it was really, really hard when it came time to hear the comments after I had given a speech. I almost quit the class. But, my husband pointed out the difference between constructive criticism, and words that are directed just to wound you. So, I changed my perspective – began looking at the comments not as criticism because I was a terrible speaker, but as critiques to make me better. It really helped.

    Of course, there are those people who are critical because they DO seek to wound your heart. Their words probably should go through your mom’s *filter* – and through the Lord’s. After all, the enemy seeks to criticize us all the time – and sometimes he does it through the words of others.


    1. Thanks for sharing your story- Yes, even constructive criticism hurts, but it is for our good. Still a little difficult to swallow, but good. 🙂

  4. Rachel,

    This is wonderful. I love your Mom’s “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” And also your way of processing the criticism. I will remember this and use it. It can be hard to take other people’s wisdom when it is directed at us. But it is necessary for us to grow. So glad I stopped by today. Blessings to you.

  5. Having a plan to deal with criticism is a great idea! I’d never thought of that before and I struggle with handling criticism too. I’m going to think through that and see what plan I need to put in place. Thanks, Rachel!

  6. My typical, go to plan has been build a wall of protection around me so the criticism can’t get through. After reading your post today, I will try to develop a plan in the future. My wall will be God but His strength and grace will pull me through the moments when words feel hurtful or are not necessary.

    I focus on the words that come out of my mouth also, and ask myself if these words were meant to build up or tear down. The reminder allows me to pause before I send hurtful words to someone else.

    Blessings, Rachel!

  7. Nancy Miller says:

    Thank you Rachel. I’m going to think a plan through … Remembering to use it is another thing … With God all things are possible.
    Years ago, I was criticized by a woman whom I didn’t know and she certainly didn’t know me … I still think on her words … I ask myself why?
    Have a beautiful day!

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