Who of us has never received criticism? All of us have, at some time, fallen victim to people who felt jealous of our work or who were angry at the way we behaved. Perhaps they didn’t like our choices or opinions, or maybe they simply felt terrible and needed to project their negativity onto somebody else.

“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts”


Criticism can and does do us great harm. Depending on how strong your self-esteem is at the time, you can choose to ignore it or let it hurt and affect you. Ultimately, you have sole responsibility for how all external factors affect you, whether positive or negative. You cannot control how others act, but you can control how you react and in this we are all different. Your best friend may not be affected by what has been said, but for you, it could be very difficult and more impactful.

Those who criticise are defining themselves as they project insecurities and fears onto others. They shoot these like poison darts at others because it helps them feel better about themselves. However, they (and us when we are guilty of criticism) need to realise that we are not solving problems but merely running away from them. Criticism is a defence mechanism to protect against impulses, actions, and thoughts that individuals do not want to recognise as their own. Their inner negativity then leads them to project them onto you to avoid having to take responsibility for, accept and solve their own problems.

Let us look at a typical example. Think of love relationships where one member accuses the other of being unfaithful without any evident signs that this is the case. A scenario like this could have many explanations. One is that the person making the accusation has had these unfaithful thoughts themself but does not accept them because they see them as negative. They project their insecurities onto their partner in their need to feel better and channel their fears into thoughts they cannot deal with.

But what is important here is how an individual reacts as the recipient. Will they let all the negativity projected onto them win? Will they keep the hurtful person by their side? Will they modify their behaviour to avoid further unfounded criticism?

“A smile in hard times can help us, whether we believe it or not”

We must therefore all learn to counteract negativity. Sometimes it is hard to stay calm with a person who criticises, but we must try to avoid letting the fears and insecurities of others rub off on us. It also enables us to analyse why the person acts as they do. At best, we might even get something positive out of it. In fact, the best way not to worry too much in situations like this is laughter. It may seem ridiculous, but it is a vital tool. A smile in hard times can help us, whether we believe it or not. So, start practising this today, and you will notice that criticism and judgment will have less impact.

Likewise, remember that criticism is just one person’s opinion. As such, in theory, it should not tangibly affect you because limited people will have the same view. Incidentally, remember how many people criticise without knowing the individuals or the situation. Does their opinion really have value?

“The best criticism is that which does not respond to the will to offend but to freedom of judgment”

Fernando Sánchez Dragó

It is also vital to pay attention to how criticisers behave themselves. Often, those who project their needs and thoughts onto others are emotional. Their words overflow with emotions that lead them to see things in a much more brutal way. When this is the case, we are dealing with a person that is not directing their words at us but at themselves. Their insecurities and fears are projected onto us, but we have no problem. We have done nothing wrong. They are afraid to accept what they disagree with, which is an obsession in their thoughts and beyond our control.

During your life, you will come across many people who criticise and fit this description. Many are toxic people who not only fill life with negativity but are also hurtful, throwing harmful feelings at you. The best way solution is to trust yourself. What these people say is not true but the fruit of fear and discomfort within themselves.

“I’m on a diet from bad thoughts, destructive people and things that are not good for me”

Paulo Coelho