Question: What is the best way to respond to people who are critical of me?
Leonard’s Answer: Whenever you feel criticized, the first thing to do is determine whether you are being criticized or whether you are simply being given feedback about yourself. If it is feedback and not criticism, then you would be wise to listen carefully and respond appropriately. Is there something being shared with you that you need to hear? It is foolish to defend against feedback that might reflect areas of unconsciousness within you.
But in an unconscious world, people are often critical or judgmental. It is important that you do not take on that energy. It has nothing to do with you. If people judge or criticize you, that is a statement about them, not you. They are revealing that they are judgmental or critical. At some level, they feel judged or criticized themselves. They are still living with those energies, which most likely originate in their childhood.
If someone judges or criticizes me, I do not take it on. If they want to judge me or criticize me, they are free to do so. I fact, I feel compassion for them, for they are still caught in those limiting and painful energies.
The question for you is why do you take it on? It is your need for approval or acceptance that causes you to take on the judgments or opinions of others. If you did not need their approval or acceptance, then their judgments or criticisms would not affect you.
Therefore I suggest that you bring to consciousness all the ways that you lose yourself in others by seeking approval or acceptance, and then gently disengage from that behavior. It will lead to freedom.
However, it is very difficult to free yourself if you are still judgmental or critical of yourself or others. To completely free yourself, you will have to bring the energy of judgment to consciousness whenever it arises within you. And you must do so without judgment. Just notice it, acknowledge it, confess it and then gently disengage from it. You are simply acknowledging it and so it will gradually relax and dissolve from your interior world. And then other people’s judgments or criticisms will no longer affect you.
Finally, I would say that it is toxic to associate with people who are continually judging or criticizing you. Share with them that it is not acceptable to you. If they persist, then consider terminating your association with them. But do so out of love for yourself and with compassion for them, and not as a judgment of them.