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Rest satisfied with doing well and leave others to talk of you as they please.

~ Pythagoras, 6th C. BCE

No one likes to receive criticism. Naturally, we want everyone to think well of us. But what do you do when you feel the sting of a critical comment? The impetus for writing on this topic came from noticing a friend being devastated by someone’s opinion.


Actually, it wasn’t so long ago that I, too, could be devastated by any hint of criticism from someone else. Then I came across Terry Cole-Wittaker’s book entitled, “What You Think of Me is None of My Business.” I now accept that everyone is entitled to their opinion, though their opinion may not be true for me.

Your opinion of yourself is far more important than someone else’s opinion of you. What might an ideal response to someone’s harsh words be? Let me offer a suggestion.


Don’t respond immediately. Take some time to think about what was said and what your appropriate response should be. Launching into feeling embarrassed or guilty will cloud your judgment and likely lead to an angry or, worse, a subservient response.


Drop the pride and defensiveness. Let the first rush of emotion dissipate so that your deeper awareness can rationally assess whether what was said was true and if, as a result, you might be wise to change your behavior and/or apologize.


You need to let it roll off your back. Holding onto shame or guilt is a detriment to your health. You can never control the opinions of others. However, if there is something that needs to be mended, you can do that while respecting yourself and honoring others.

I find that when a criticism comes at me, it has become easier to listen carefully, go inside to see if I own any part of what was said, and respond accordingly. Finally, I chalk it up to a learning experience, not a failure on my part, and let the experience go.

When you feel the sting of another’s criticism, you can always STOP, DROP, and ROLL.