Surrounded by Criticism? 3 Ways to Build Confidence (Despite The Haters)
Have you ever met someone soooo crazy critical, they made you question whether you could do anything right?
I know I have. So I also know just how hard dealing with constant criticism can be. It makes you doubt yourself and your own abilities. And you feel so anxious any time you’re with that person – whether it’s at work or home or whatever – you can’t perform at your best, which only triggers even more harsh words.
Before you know it, you’re stuck in a vicious cycle of self-doubt and negativity.
But you don’t have to be.
In fact, you can face criticism with calmness and confidence…and today, I’m sharing the secret to doing just that!
My Own Journey Learning How to be Confident
In fact, I’m sharing three “secrets” in this blog post – and all of them were suuuuper key to helping me stay confident when I worked on social justice issues and faced toooons of criticism every day. In particular, for a couple of years, I worked with a company I helped start whose mission and platform I 100000% believed in.
The problem? Like most other new businesses being pitched, for every one piece of positive feedback we got on our vision, we got about 100 negative or doubtful responses.
And I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes, all the comments about everything that was “missing” or “wrong” with our company would get me down.
But that’s when I would use the three confidence hacks I’m sharing below. And spoiler alert…they worked for me, and they can work for you, too!
How to Be Confident Even When You’re Surrounded By Criticism:
1. Don’t give away your power!
Say it with me: I am powerful. I am in control. And I can choose how I react to critical people around me.
Why are believing and embodying those three statements soooo important? Well, negativity and criticism are kind of like really icky colds. They spread easily and can be super draining to fight. So the best way to keep others’ criticism from getting you down is removing yourself from that conversation entirely.
Now, I know this is easier said than done. When you hear someone say that you’re not a team player when you just spent hooours perfecting a group presentation or that you’re not “dedicated enough” to be your bestie’s maid of honor when you’ve known her since, like, forever, it’s only natural to want to jump to your own defense. To prove that who you are or what you do is valid or acceptable. And it’s equally natural if you instead feel the urge to bend over backward and apologize for *insert your alleged “flaw” here* over and over in an attempt to earn that person’s love and respect.
But neither of those paths will actually lead you to a happier, more confident life. Because in both, you end up giving away your power and your energy…and, perhaps most importantly, letting that critical person know that what they say really does impact how you feel and act. So they’ll just keep using that power against you – and that’s not what you want, right?
The Right Way to React to Critical Comments
You want to march through life with the confidence of Oprah, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian, combined. You want those critical people to think that they have ZERO control over your emotions, well-being or anything else. And the best way to get that message across is being calm in the face of criticism – even when you don’t think that person is being fair or accurate. Instead of arguing or getting defensive, just acknowledge their opinion, send them a Miss-America-worthy smile or say nothing at all.
This is a surefire strategy to shut down critics for two reasons. First, it’ll establish some much needed boundaries between you and those uber critical people. It’s basically an indirect way of telling them, “OK, you can have that opinion and all…but I’m not gonna participate in these kind of conversations. So change the subject, or I’m moving along with my awesome day.” But an even better benefit of this strategy is what not reacting to criticism does to your confidence levels. Hint: it’ll make you feel like channeling your inner J-Lo!
Because the truth is, being able to let someone’s rude or mean statements come in one ear and out the other without taking it personally is a MEGA important skill when it comes to confidence. Instead of feeling victimized and controlled by other people’s opinions, you’ll know that you are strong enough to choose who and what impacts your day.
This mindset change was majorly helpful when I was dealing with heaps of criticism about the business I was trying to launch. I stopped asking for people’s opinions unless I really, really, really respected them. And when people did criticize my idea, I stopped wasting time and emotional energy trying to defend my vision. Instead, I just moved on.
And if that control and self-assurance isn’t what confidence is all about, what is?!?
2. Incorporate others’ criticism into your larger success story.
You might look at famous people like Steve Jobs or Michelle Obama and think they’ve always had everything figured out. But the truth is, most of them were surrounded by criticism – and actually motivated by it! Nowadays, we know Albert Einstein as an uber-genius…but his parents said he was “sub-normal” and his teachers called him “mentally slow,” “adrift” and “unsociable.” The Wright brothers crashed their first two planes. And Beyonce couldn’t have written her hit song, “Survivor” without all of the drama she went through early-on in her singing career.
And those are just a few of the examples I can name off the top of my head. There are hundreds and hundreds more…and your story can follow the exact same ahhhmazing arc.
But it takes work. When I look at those struggle-and-succeed stories, I see people who turned criticism into motivation to get really honest with themselves. And I mean, really honest. It made them think about their potential weaknesses. Learn how to stand up for themselves. Basically, use people’s critiques as guides for how they could grow and become even stronger.
How to Makeover Your View of Criticism
So when you’re creating your own success story, why not do the same thang? Start by picturing yourself five years down the line having achieved whatever goal you’re aiming for. Then, when criticism does pop up, imagine how you can use that criticism to shape your imagined future.
For example, maybe you live in a family like Einstein’s that’s always putting you down, but you dream of one day being a super supportive and loving parent and partner. So when your parents say something hurtful, see it as a reminder of what you want to avoid or be conscious of when creating your own family.
Tell yourself: It’s these criticisms and negative situations that are actually going to make me smarter, stronger and wiser. And I can actively see how these negative experiences are built into the story of my success.
You can use the same technique at work, too! If you work for Cruella deVille and she always picks at little mistakes or calls people out in front of everyone, remind yourself what kind of boss you’d want to be or what kind of workplace you’d want to create. Focus on what those criticisms are teaching you, how they are forcing you to grow and how you became more resilient as a result.
The Important Truth About Confidence You Need to Know
Because here’s the thing about confidence. Sometimes, people talk about it like it’s some delicate orchid that only grows with lots of sunshine and nurturing. But confidence is freakin’ hardy! It’s that sunflower that grows through the crack in the sidewalk in the middle of a drought and surrounded by weeds.
This resilience is what I kept reminding myself of every single day when I was pitching my new business to investors. I reminded myself that Amazon was turned down by like 100 investors and how J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected by over 10 different publishers. But they were resilient and they had unique ideas, just like I did. So every time I heard a “no” or someone said something bad about my business, I’d think of being one step closer to following in their footsteps.
So don’t see criticism as an obstacle to confidence. See it as part of your journey to building confidence that can survive anything life throws your way!
3. Become besties with some solid sources of positivity.
Remember the relieved feeling of getting to sleep in your own bed after traveling from hotel to hotel for weeks? That’s kinda how it feels to reach out to a source of positivity in your life after hours of dealing with critical people.
Now, in a perfect world, this positive “bestie” would probably be an actual person. Perhaps a coworker who can always make you smile, even when your boss is criticizing your evvvery move. Or a brother or sister who actually gets you.
But you can find positive vibes in sooo many more places than your real-life relationships. In a book with an author whose personal story really resonates with you. In uplifting podcasts or audiobooks. Even in an Instagram account full of positive affirmations and videos of adorable puppies.
All that matters is that as often as you’re listening to critical feedback in your life, you’re also paying attention to positive things that affirm and align with who you are and how you want to live. That way, you still get that boost of confidence from feeling understood and validated.
Personally, I think the most powerful source of positive inspiration is a mentor. Look for someone who has been resilient in whatever area of life you’re struggling with. It could be someone you know who’s dealt with having a really shitty family life for a long time or someone who’s coped with working in a really competitive company. Use that mentorship to remind yourself that you are on the right path and you are doing a good job, no matter what the critics say. And most people are really happy to be mentors because they love helping others who they identify with…so it’s really a win-win situation for everyone involved!
How This Confidence Hack Transformed My Life
In my own success story, forming a “positivity tribe” was key. I found a mentor who’d already succeeded at building a company with a similar focus as mine. And when my mentor started raising money for his company, he didn’t have a ton of amazing connections either. So he was able to understand a lot of the challenges and perspectives I had, which made me feel a loooot less alone.
Plus, I also became Queen of Facebook Friending when it came to people I met in Facebook groups for entrepreneurs sharing success stories. And every chance I got, a read a new book about people sharing what worked for them in businesses like mine.
I surrounded myself with positivity and 100% believed my business could happen…and, sure enough, after two years, we got an amazing break. We raised over a million dollars in investments and reached millions of people with our work.
And if I’m completely, swear-on-my-mama’s-grave honest…that victory felt even more profound and exciting because I’d worked to stay confident about the project despite all the doubt and criticism I’d received!
The BONUS Secret Weapon You Can Use to Increase Confidence
Now, I know what you may be thinking. That these tips are easier said than done. That it takes time and work to change your mindset around criticism and confidence. You might even be worried that you can’t make these big changes on your own.
That’s why I have a bonus secret weapon I’m sharing with you today: my six-week course, Radiant Confidence! This online course is all about challenging the limiting beliefs you’ve been told – or been telling yourself – about confidence. (Hint: the ideas that confident people are “always perfect” and “never face criticism” are just two of many limiting beliefs we’ll break down!) Plus, you’ll learn the tools I use to cultivate self-love, overcome fear and anxiety, and maintain bold, radiant confidence every single day. To find out even more about Radiant Confidence or to sign up for the course, just click here!
What I Hope You Remember About Feeling Confident While Surrounded by Criticism
When you’re surrounded by critical people and all you hear every day are the things you’re doing wrong, it’s easy to accidentally stop believing in yourself. To start thinking that maybe there is something wrong with you or something wrong with how you want to live your life.
If so…this post is your reminder that those kind of thoughts are 10000% NOT TRUE. You are doing amazing things in your life. Maybe more or maybe less than you planned, but I’m sure you’ve already done something awesome today – even if it was just opening the door for a stranger at the local coffee shop.
And this post, of course, is also a reminder that YOU have control over how criticism makes you feel. Which means you can choose to start improving your life by using these confidence hacks today – like, right now, even!
So what are you waiting for? Screenshot some positive affirmations, research your heroes’ past struggles and prepare to discover just how empowering it feels to face criticism, calmly acknowledge it and then slay alllll the goals people doubted you could ever achieve.
Which of these confidence hacks would help you the most? Tell me in the comments!