Hateful words spewed from my “friend’s” mouth. I had worked hard in my volunteer position only to have her cut me down and question my motives. At first, I was defensive. Then my heart began to agree I was a terrible person. My mind raced wondering who else may think the same of me. Finally, I determined not to open myself to anyone ever again and was tempted to quit the position.
Have your thoughts ever spiraled out of control leading you down a destructive path after receiving an unfair criticism? We’re tempted to believe all criticism is true.
When trying to determine if criticism is constructive or unfair, consider the following:
- Is the criticism meant to help me change in order to grow? Or are the chosen words meant to cut me down and doubt my abilities?
If someone is interested in seeing you succeed and proceed to the next level, their words should be considered. However, if the person’s words are not constructive and are destructive then reject their opinion.
- Is the person acting as a caring friend or is jealousy coloring their words?
My “friend” was not being caring. Her credibility was damaged when it became apparent she was jealous and desired to assume the position I held.
- Is the person criticizing me in an open forum such as social media or are they using proper channels to speak with me privately either through a private message or phone call?
Social media allows people to speak in haste. It allows us to depersonalize others giving us permission to say whatever we feel without regard to how it will be received. Most of these harsh comments can be disregarded.
- Did the person share their thoughts anonymously or did they use their real name?
As soon as a letter is received through the mail, I immediately glance at the end to find a signature. If it is unsigned or is signed, “Anonymous,” it gets thrown in the garbage. Anyone who is not brave enough to use their name has nothing of value to say.
After deciding the criticism is from a credible source and is meant to help you grow, it’s time to determine if it’s valid.
- Take time to pray, look through scripture to determine if there is truth in his/her words, and read your affirmation file. An affirmation file is a file to keep all complimentary notes received, quotes that add to self-worth, verses from the bible that reveal how God feels about you, and even verbal compliments received that have been written down and filed.
- After seeking God on the matter, reading the bible, and looking at the affirmation file, you will be able to see things clearly. Thoughts crowded with false, accusing, negative self talk are replaced with truth. You’ll be able to see if there is room for growth.
- Decide if the comments are to be disregarded or considered. If the person’s words disagree with God’s and the comments in the affirmation file, they can probably be disregarded. However, if God uses the person’s words to reveal truth to you through convicting scripture and if there is nothing in the affirmation file to disagree, then their words should be considered.
Once you’ve determined the words are valid, make a plan of action.
- Pray and commit to making the changes needed.
- Take time to write down how the changes will impact your effectiveness. This can be used as an ongoing motivational tool.
- Determine if help is needed in making positive changes. Will counseling or additional training improve your chances of succeeding?
- Enlist accountability partners who will be honest with you about your progress.
- Write down the positive impact when following through on the changes you’ve made.
- Thank God for helping you make positive changes to your life. And thank the person who set you on the path of growth through their constructive criticism.
When criticism is unfair, we need to ignore it and ask God to remove it from our minds and hearts. When criticism is truly constructive, it can help grow our effectiveness and impact.
“Whoever heeds life-giving correction
will be at home among the wise.” Proverbs 15:31 (NIV)
This post is part of a blog link up at
You may also like:
©2013 Connie Davis Johnson