Why Empaths are easily Hurt by Criticism and how to Prevent it Impacting Your Life
Empaths Empowered, 21 June 2018
There is no escaping this simple fact of life, the majority of Empaths are easily hurt by the criticisms and judgements of others. In some cases, so much so, that it may prevent them from taking any creative risks in life.
Yes, the pain of criticism holds many of us back, for the simple reason it is human nature to avoid anything which causes pain.
But as the old saying goes: ‘The only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, do nothing and be nothing’. And I doubt there are many Empaths who want to go through life doing nothing.
As a blogger, an author and an ‘active poster on Facebook’, I have come across my fair share of criticism. Some of it being quite harsh. And, I will not lie, it does not feel good.
I have often questioned why is it that I feel so disconcerted when someone insults me or criticizes my work and the best answer I can come up with is because I care.
It is not that I am so much concerned about being ‘disliked’, but more that I don’t want to cause insult or feel I have hurt or offended another by my offerings or opinions. I also get a little rattled when someone has misread my intentions or made wrong assumptions about me or my work.
That said, I also know criticism can be a great learning tool. Especially in regard to anything work-related or creative. We are often too close to our own work to see where things could be improved. An honest, constructively critical eye can help us see what we were previously blinded to. But, sadly, there are too many people who are insulting in their criticism. Instead of using a critique as a way to help another, some deliver it in such a way that is belittling or cutting.
We live in a world where the fear of criticism holds too many good people back from achieving their potential and living life to the full. Sadly, it is often the most talented and creative people who are worst affected.
So, is there any way we can overcome the pain caused by criticism? I would have to say yes and no. It really depends on the person, the circumstances and the reaction. For example, if you are highly reactive about the slightest reproach, then the chances are you are out of balance (imbalanced hormones, impaired immune system, have suffered with too much emotional stress or grief, etc.) and feeling more pain than you should.
In these cases, by getting to the root-cause or finding a way to deal with emotional stress (see below) will help soften future reactions. But for many, being hurt by criticism goes with the territory of being an Empath.
We also have to consider that negative reactions to criticism could also be a trauma trigger response stemming from childhood.
For an Empath, repeated pain caused by criticism can eventually lead them to closing down to others. It can make for superficial or shallow conversations and an inability to make proper connections. It almost comes as a double-edged sword. In a bid to stay protected from others’ judgements we can build a wall so high that we end upon the outside of everything, which can become quite isolating.
Facing up to the reasoning behind this reaction to criticism is difficult. But the simple fact is until we face our fear of criticism (Urgh, I know!) we won’t really understand it.
A simple question to ask is: Why do you think you feel such reactions to criticism? (f you want to uncover the true answer, now is the time to be totally honest with yourself.)
The answers will probably look a little something like this:
- When you’re criticized you feel like you’ve let someone down.
- You were picked on as a child and it made you feel weak or useless and anything that reinforces that belief acts as a trauma trigger.
- Your parents constantly criticized your efforts and, although you realise it was their way to make you better at everything, it served in making you feel insecure or unvalued.
- You hate feeling as though you’ve done something wrong.
- You dislike other people making judgements about you when they have no idea who you are or the way you think.
- Criticism ignites a feeling of worthlessness and not being good enough.
- You have always worked to be the best at everything you do and when someone criticizes your efforts it is soul-destroying and is taken personally.
- You want to be liked by others and work hard to keep them pleased.
Vanity can also be a reason behind the pain because, lets face it, who takes pleasure in being criticised?
Whatever your answer is, look at how it impacts your reactions. Do you feel pain or anger? Are you upset that you offended someone or are you angry that this person has you all wrong?
If it’s pain you are hurt. If it’s anger you are insulted… You can also be both.
Next, question the person making the criticism (even if you don’t know them, let your intuition guide you).
- Do they want to take you down because of jealousy?
- Are they trying to make themselves self-important and you insignificant?
- Are they trying to be cruel to be kind?
- Is their critic really an excuse to attack you?
- Is it a cruel troller at work?
- Do they have unrealistic expectations of you?
- Are they in pain themselves?
People who negatively criticize you (behind your back or to your face), will, in all likelihood, criticizec everyone and anyone, because they are probably unhappy with themselves. Or it could be that by putting others down, they are attempting to lift themselves up and make themselves feel ‘special’.
Some people will also attack you because they can’t face looking into themselves to find the reason of their own unhappiness or insecurities (it is easier to blame others than to face the truth).
Whatever the case, when we wallow in the pain of others’ criticism (even through anger) we are actually punishing ourself over someone else’s opinion. And, let’s face it, people rarely get an Empath right. They cannot understand what they don’t experience.
So, now it’s time to look at ways to deal with the pain caused by criticism. Sadly, there is no magic pill here. As an Empath, the chances are you will always get hurt by criticism, and that’s alright. As I said, it comes with the territory. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not a weakness. It is a sign of being a sensitive and compassionate human. But, all the same, here are some tips that should help.
Ways to Deal with Criticism