TEEN SOUL POWER
There are two types of criticism. The first is constructive criticism. The goal of constructive criticism is to help provide feedback for us to grow and develop. Thus, a teacher returns a paper and no matter the quality, offers suggestions on how to improve it. Yes, constructive criticism often stings because it does present a truth, and that truth shows we are less than perfect and/or in an unflattering way. The difference is that one knows that the deliverer of the critique is trying to be helpful, and so while there may be a sting it is recognized and accepted as having a basis in trying to help us. Thus, we accept it as a helpful tool and it mitigates the pain to our self-image.
The second type of criticism is too often hurtful. This type of criticism is sometimes said to help another, but the manner and intensity of the message is harsh or disapproving. Sometimes it is blameful, sometimes fault-finding, and too often is judgmental. In this case if criticism comes from self-righteousness, it can be insulting and belittling. Here a person will feel disparaged and either dismiss the criticism or even feel as though he/she should defend themselves and attack back.
If you feel unjustly criticized, do what the experts recommend. First, imagine how someone you admire would handle the criticism you received, and use that manner to model your own response. Second, be sure to respond to the suggestions rather than to the tone of the criticism (remember, all useful feedback also offers positive advice and alternatives). Third, acknowledge your feelings to yourself and do some self-care. Criticism, even when helpful and accurate can hurt no matter how helpful, and it's important to let yourself feel. Fourth, take a deep breath, learn something from the feedback, and carry on. After all, you are a positive and strong person and can turn lemons into lemonade!
Conversely, when you are giving feedback, be sure to first, talk about the strengths and areas of improvement of the person. Second focus on the situation or event and do not attack the person. Third, be very specific (not saying things like "you always"… or "you never"). Fourth, only speak to things which can be changed. Fifth, offer recommendations or advice on how to improve, and Sixth, be sure you do not make assumptions - focus on what you know, not what you think..
And of course criticism can and does affect self-esteem and one's identity formation. People who are not understood and criticized often and harshly, tend to develop similar personalities themselves if they do not develop a balance in understanding, acceptance and love.
Remember that everyone has faults and makes mistakes, and when you look closely enough you'll find flaws in everyone and everything. Criticism can be a very effective communication tool, or it can be one of the most critical blocks to relationships and human bonding. It should not be a person's first or only means of communication. Everyone needs to slow down, and think before they speak.