The People You Should Accept Criticism From May Be A Smaller List Than You Think

Receiving criticism — even when it's truly constructive — can be one of the hardest parts of life for many people. Even the most well-meaning feedback can feel like a personal rejection, especially if you already tend to struggle with your own self-worth behind the scenes. Living your life online, which is essentially expected during this era of social media, can exacerbate the issue, exposing you to the opinions of what can feel like every person on Earth every time you hit the post button.


Fortunately, the critical comments you receive, whether online or in person, are always yours to either take to heart or leave sitting on the table. When push comes to shove, most peoples' opinions just aren't that important in the big picture of what you want for your life. We've spelled out exactly how you can assess criticism to determine whether or not the person giving it deserves your time and energy. 

Friends and coworkers

When you find yourself reeling over a piece of criticism you've received from a friend or coworker, the first step is to evaluate the source. If you were researching a topic that was important to you, you wouldn't simply accept information from every source you came across. You'd evaluate the credibility of each source before you decided whether or not to consider the information valid. The same process should be used when you're processing criticism.


It's even easier to evaluate a person's qualifications for giving out advice when that person is someone you know well. If a coworker is criticizing a parenting decision you've made, for instance, but you heard them complaining about their son getting arrested just last weekend, it's obvious their criticism is unwarranted. If a friend is commenting on your general life decisions, ask yourself whether they are living a life behind closed doors that you'd like to have for yourself. If you don't consider the person offering you criticism someone you'd go to for advice in that area, then you do not need to consider following their suggestions. 

Family and romantic partners

It's easy to quickly spiral into shame, embarrassment, or anger when you've received unsolicited advice or criticism from a person you love. You may find it helpful to ask yourself what you think the intention was behind the commentary you received from a close person in your life and whether it deserves the impact it's having on you. A concerned comment from a parent or grandparent who is genuinely distressed by an aspect of your life and truly wants to help may be worth seriously considering.


On the other hand, the fact that you deeply care about someone doesn't automatically mean that you're required to internalize their criticism or follow their advice. If your partner is nit-picking your system for washing the dishes, for instance, even though it's a chore you take care of 90% of the time, feel free to inform them that you don't need their input. It's likely that their intention isn't to help you but to convince themselves that they're contributing more than they are. You're not obligated to accept advice from anyone, but consider the intention behind the interaction before you decide how much you'll let it impact you.

Strangers and acquaintances

Receiving criticism from strangers or acquaintances, especially online, can somehow feel more painful than comments made by people you actually know and care about. Criticism is not inherently a negative, mean, or destructive thing, however. If you never receive criticism, you may not ever change the way you do or say things for the better. When criticism is constructive, it kindly provides you with feedback about how you can improve your process with actionable advice you can follow, if you find the critique to be worthy of incorporating.


When criticism turns destructive, there's is no actionable advice attached. If a critical comment isn't delivered with genuine kindness and a clear suggestion for how you can improve, consider it destructive and move on without allowing it to bring down your mood or your opinion of yourself and your efforts. If you're stewing over a scornful stranger's comment on a TikTok video, for example, consider the fact that the commenter probably intended to quickly blow off some steam and then promptly forgot about the interaction altogether. Therefore, it truly doesn't deserve the privilege of living rent-free in your head all day. 

How to respond

When you receive a critique, regardless of who it came from, you are not required to immediately respond. Online, it's easy to close an app or web browser and walk away long enough to consider the source and intention behind the comment and whether it was constructive or destructive. Once you've evaluated the communication, you can just as easily log back in and respond accordingly or decide not to respond at all.


Receiving criticism in person can feel a little more urgent, especially if the person doing the criticizing clearly expects an immediate response. However, you are completely within your rights to explain to the person in question that you are going to require some time to process their feedback and request that the difficult conversation be shelved for the time being. Once you've considered, you can either let the person know that you're ready to have a conversation or explain that while you appreciate their concern, you've decided not to explore their feedback further. You get to control the narrative around your own life. 

Know yourself

If you find yourself feeling especially affected by negative comments and unrequested advice, it's time to dig into your deepest feelings about yourself. When you are secure in who you are and the path you're walking, you won't be so easily stung by the opinions of others. If you aren't clear on who you are as a person and what your current purpose in life is, you'll find yourself searching for external validation by placing value on what other people think about you.


Spend some time reconnecting with yourself and remembering what makes you unique. Consider embarking on a journaling journey to help you identify who you are, which unique traits you possess, and what you'd like to accomplish during this chapter of your life. Once you truly know yourself and embrace the path you're walking, the voices of others will naturally become much quieter than that of your own intuition.