Is it possible to deal with criticism without negativity?

It is inevitable; criticism. It is always an opinion of the other person. If you agree with their judgment, their criticism may prompt you to improve yourself. However, if you disagree, you may be embracing negativity. Negative emotions weaken you. Sometimes, it can be hard to deal with criticism, especially if it comes from your loved ones.

How to deal with criticism from family?

When others try to unload their negativity and opinions onto you, at that moment, you have a choice, an option to reject, to discard, to let go. If you can let go, you will remain peaceful; your heart will not be wounded, certainly not as much. That’s a straightforward way to deal with criticism.

Let me share a story with you that shows how to deal with criticism positively.

There was a particular monastery in Japan. It was founded by a Chinese master a long time ago. The master and his followers were known for destroying religious texts and other such artifacts as Buddha’s statues and religious symbols. Their rationale was to free themselves from any form of conditioning and attachment.

They believed that such symbols and texts conditioned and shackled the mind rather than freeing it. The radical methods of the Chinese masters helped many gain a transcendental state. However, those who disagreed with their methods criticized them heavily.

Once, two seekers, well educated, one even being a professor, from North America, visited that monastery. They were fairly well-read and had preconceived notions about the place and its founder. The abbot received them and took them around for a tour of the monastery. Towards the end of the tour, the Roshi, the elder master, led them into a ceremonial hall to pay respects to a statue of the founder by prostrating and offering incense. The two seekers were disturbed as they had read all about the founder and his radical acts. Although disconcerted, they followed quietly.

When the Roshi bowed before the statue, the professor could no longer contain himself and blurted out, “This man you idolize, he burned and spat on Buddha statues! Why do you bow before him?”
“If you want to spit, you spit,” replied the Roshi calmly, “I prefer to bow.”

There you go. Whether you spit or bow is your choice, and whether they bow or spit is their choice. You exercise yours and let them exercise theirs. I am reminded of a quote, “Those who love you don’t need an explanation, and those who don’t are not going to believe one anyway.” When you are offered criticism, you may choose to clarify your position, only if you truly wish to do that. You may wish to reflect on it, for, such criticism may even be true. Beyond that, do not cause yourself grief by brooding over others’ thoughts and opinions. Reject it. Promptly. 

To deal with criticism, and to protect yourself, it’s important to understand that your freedom, inner bliss, is entirely in your own hands. It is your own state of mind. What you do not accept can never affect you. Just like you, everyone has a right to their opinion.

Until you rise above it, you must discover your own method to deal with criticism.

Here are some popular methods for you:

1. Remove yourself physically: If you can remove yourself physically, you will no longer hear their opinions. If you are unable to hear what they have to say, you will not be grieved. You may choose to go out or go for a walk.

2. Disappear mentally: If you can find something else to focus on, so that you are listening to your inner music, you will retain your blissful state. It is like listening to your iPod while the other person is watching TV. They are doing what they like, and you are doing what you like.

3. Visualize: Choose a visualization that may help you. When someone decides to turn on their FM channel, you may see them as a blabbering child, a radio, or anything else that insulates you.

4. Sympathize: If you pay attention, you will discover that those who criticize you are full of their own insecurities. Those in bliss and peace do not criticize. They may politely offer their point of view, but you will not see them criticize. Next time, when you have to deal with criticism, fill your heart with empathy towards the other person. They might have had a rough childhood or an unfulfilling life. This is the only way they have learned to protect and express themselves. The method of sympathizing is the most compassionate way. If you can practice this, not only will you experience great peace, you will trigger a subtle transformation in the other person too.

Just like upon boarding a plane, your destiny is in the hands of the pilot, when you take a flight of argument, it is no longer about you alone. If you choose to react or respond to criticism in kind, you have just procreated a new entity of disharmony and negativity, you have already boarded at that time. The control is less and less in your hands. You may unnaturally curb the other person’s response if you exercise greater authority, but the damage is already done.

How about when you are the one criticizing? If you are not kind enough, big enough to appreciate what the other person is doing for you, do not be so small to criticize either. There is a difference between helping someone improve and being downright negative about what they are doing. If you do not understand their point of view, it does not mean they are wrong. Be fair. Remember the two sets of rules? You may want to read The Three Magic Words of Effective Communication.

Yes, you want to make a point. Yes, you really believe the other person is at fault. Surely, you know all that they can do to improve. There is no doubt in your mind that you are impartial, and your statements, genuine. The truth is, the other person feels exactly the same about herself.

It is all in you, not all about you!


Editorial Note

Judgmental people are a part and parcel of our daily lives. And many a time, it is we who become these judgmental people, critically analyzing every aspect of another’s life.

The funny thing is, this judgment is instant. Very often, we know nothing of the person’s background, morals, or qualities. But the opinions we form are immediate and even lasting.

There was once a sage who lived outside a village. Every morning, he would make his way to the river to bathe and meditate. One morning, upon reaching the river, he saw a man lying on the ground, his head on a woman’s lap. An empty alcohol bottle lay beside him.

Seeing this sight, the sage felt dejected. “How sinful!” he thought. “At a time when one must focus on the good things, here is a man, drunk and lying on a woman. He must be an alcoholic and certainly non-spiritual.”
So thinking, he went about his routine when suddenly, he heard a voice calling for help. A man was drowning in the river.

Before the sage could even think, the seemingly drunk man had jumped into the river instantly to pull the man out. Watching his actions, the sage was left confused. Was this man a good or bad person?

He approached the man. “Who are you, son? What are you doing here?”

The man bowed and replied, “Guru, I’m a fisherman. I’ve been traveling for several days and reached the village just this morning. My mother met me here with food and water.”

“But…” stuttered the sage. “The bottle of alcohol…?”

“Oh,” replied the man, smiling. “My mother brought the water in it as she could not find any other bottle. It was such a lovely morning that I wanted to rest on her lap for a bit. I feel better now.”

The sage was moved to tears. How wrong he had been! He had judged the fisherman based on his own assumptions while the reality was completely different.

(Story credit)

So it is with judgment. It is but our own thoughts that filter out through the lens of our assumptions and prejudices.



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The FAQs below shed some more light on the nature of judgmental people and how we can, both, deal with them as well as learn to overcome this all-too-common character trait:

How do we criticize someone without being judgmental?

Deal with criticism

I know exactly what you mean. Who among us hasn’t dealt with difficult people? Still, my personal experience says that we can speak the truth or share our concerns in a kind and positive manner.

All the smiling people we see around us, who know what they are dealing with daily in their private lives. Everyone could do with a bit of compassion, loving-kindness, and empathy. We don’t have to point out every mistake of the other person. Sometimes, we can ignore it.

At any rate, if you have nothing nice to say then perhaps you can just be quiet, and be non-judgmental.

A while back, I read Ajahn Brahm’s Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy. He elaborates on a brilliant way of providing negative feedback which he aptly calls The Sandwich Method. If you don’t wish to be one of those judgmental people criticizing other people, it’s certainly worth a try!

Continue reading The Art of Criticism to learn about The Sandwich Method. And remember, each one of us is here to make a difference. To ourselves, to others, to this world. Do it gently. Compassionately. Mindfully.

3 Principles to Handle Disapproval from Judgmental People

Why are people judgmental and critical? It is a reflection of their own insecurities. However, in the moment, when we are faced with judgment, this fact provides little comfort.

Our mind looks upon criticism as an intrusion. This is the truth. But, criticism is an important aspect of our lives and we can only gain from learning how to take it positively. Those who learn to handle criticism with discernment live in less conflict and command more respect wherever they go.

Here are three golden principles of being at peace in the face of criticism. Next time you have to handle disapproval from judgmental people, justified or otherwise, reflect on these principles and you will remain mostly unperturbed.

Read Three Principles of Handling Criticism.

Why are people so judgmental?

Judgmental people

The path of success is littered with opinions and suggestions.

Everyone you meet will have some kind of an opinion and you are likely to cross paths with many who won’t believe in you. They will give you a million reasons why you will fail. It’s alright, that’s all they know.

You’ll also meet some who may offer you false praise, just to attain a desired outcome. It’s the way of the material world. Then you’ll also meet some who are genuine and will influence your life in a phenomenal way.

If you can keep your head on your shoulders and remain unmoved by such people and have faith in your own conviction as well as the wisdom to know when and how much to listen to someone, success is yours for the taking.

An understanding of the self—that you are not a product of the opinions of others but of your own thoughts, feelings, and actions—is critical to attaining supreme success in any endeavor you wish to undertake.

Continue reading this beautiful excerpt from The Heart of Success, one of Om Swami’s bestselling books. We guarantee judgmental people will no longer hold you back from your heart’s desire!

What is wrong in being judgmental?

To make this world a better place is as much your job as it is mine or anyone else’s. It’s not just me but each one of us who has borrowed our present from our future generations and it’s our collective responsibility to build a society that cares about each other, one that knows how to express their disagreements in a civil manner rather than hurling abuses, a world which is a bit more tolerant.

Deal with criticism

The past week has been adventurous. We had been working on my new blog for over a year. I changed development teams, designers, payment gateways, and service providers to get the website to a stage where I could look at it and say, yes, this looks beautiful.

My blog is important to me because it is my personal playground. I went for la crème de la crème in every single aspect because I wanted to welcome you to a beautiful home, that’s warm, clutter-free and inviting. It represents how I keep things in my brain, it’s my inner world on a screen.

As totally expected, however, many readers are not happy with the change. Of those who wrote in, some hurled very unique kinds of profanities that amused me (not my support team though, who were deeply hurt).

To publicize obscenities or expletives is a little too garish for my taste, so here’s an ultra-small sample of some clean criticism (verbatim and sic):

Continue reading Hungry Baba and the New Normal.

How do I stop being bothered by judgmental people?

It’s very simple – let them think what they want to think. But also give what they’re saying a listen.

It’s not always that judgmental people are bad. The video below beautifully highlights this fact while also telling us how to handle others’ opinions.

YouTube video


  • 0:49: Let them think what they want to think
  • 3:16: Hear them out
  • 5:30: Response to the astrology camp
  • 8:38: Don’t take it personally
  • 10:03: Do you need them or do they need you?


There were four members in a household. Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. A bill was overdue. Everybody thought Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it but Nobody did it.
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