How to Distinguish, and Deal With, Baseless Criticisms

We’re placed in a difficult position when others criticize the things we do and the words we say. Some people may choose to ignore critics all together, but this method encourages them to miss important (and perhaps painful) feedback on the way they should conduct themselves. The fact is that some criticism we face is important to hear. You as an individual, can’t assume all words and actions you present into the world are flawless in planning and execution. You’ll say the wrong thing sometimes, and you’ll act in a way which hurts the ones you care for most.

In order to not miss important criticism which we can learn from and improve ourselves over, we should at least listen to as much criticism from others as we can manage. Once we hear the critics, then the filtering process begins. The criticisms related to your words and actions will be divided into two major categories: baseless, and well founded ones. This article hopes to help you in first distinguishing between the two, and then arming you with techniques to battle the baseless criticisms you hear.

How to Know When a Criticism Is Baseless

Your gut will play a large part in determining whether criticism you hear is valid. Criticisms are baseless when you don’t feel a need to defend yourself against them. Baseless criticisms shine a light on just how right your words and actions really were. An action which is right needs no defending. The more you feel a need to defend against a critique, the more valid it will seem to be. Be careful in taking a strong stance against criticism you are desperate to defend. As an intelligent individual, you feeling a need to defend yourself against criticism gives it validity by the mere fact that your intelligent efforts are focused on it. When in the act of defending, something tells you that the criticisms you choose to defend are dangerous to your image, and thereby may in fact be believable enough to be true.

A simple trick in attempting to determine whether a criticism is invalid is to imagine saying it to yourself in front of a mirror. Our most honest critiques come from ourselves. Let go of the image of anyone expressing the criticism in question other than yourself. Imagine criticizing yourself, and truly attempt to believe the criticism in question to be true and valid. Do you feel a deep desire to change your behavior based on that feedback from yourself? Does it compare to a time you vehemently criticized yourself?

Now place yourself in the shoes of the person who expressed that same critique. Would you say the same thing to someone else who acted like you did in the specified situation? In other words, would you ever find yourself being the source of the criticism you’ve found yourself a receiver of?

The questions above will help you in determining whether you believe the criticism to be valid. It all of course depends on the specifics of your situation. The general theme however, is to be sympathetic with the ones who criticize you by thoroughly placing yourself in their shoes.

Defending Against Baseless Criticisms Validates Them

A baseless criticism is born via forces other than well founded observations or fact. Envy may be involved, self loathing on the critic’s part may be involved, and misconceptions can steer the perceptions of those who criticize you. Determining whether a criticism is baseless is tough work, we are inherently biased to favor the righteousness of the actions we commit and the words we say. This article will not teach you how to become open minded in your reception of criticism or how to audit your past behavior in an unbiased way. Know that these traits are needed in order to properly improve yourself in this life. Do not hold onto the perceived validity of your past actions and words with a grip of death. Be open to new information and to changing the way you think and act. Accept criticisms with that frame of mind, and then focus on determining whether criticism against you is valid or not.

This does not mean that merely choosing to defend yourself against critiques makes them true, but you should at least question the reasons behind your act of defending against the criticisms that you hear. Would you defend yourself against someone saying you weren’t raised correctly by your parents? How about if someone mentioned just how rude you were to the server at the bar the other night? The act of defending against someone’s assumption that you weren’t raised right by your parents gives a baseless criticism validity. However, your distinct actions toward a server may need an evaluation. If you determine that critique to be baseless, you wouldn’t need to defend what you’ve done or said to the waiter. However, if you find any ounce of truth to that critique, you’ll be faced with two options: to either defend, or to admit your wrongdoing. Naturally, admitting wrongdoing is more difficult than defending. Be careful if you choose to defend, the very act of doing so hints that you are threatened by truth criticisms may carry.

Baseless Criticisms Spread the More You Try to Itch

Baseless criticisms are mosquito bites which itch more with every scratch. When you determine a criticism to be baseless, it is best to softly cradle it until its death. You can have fun with it, and even jokingly agree, but do not take a serious stance against it. Allow your behavior to prove the ones who abide by that criticism to be wrong. If a criticism is labelled baseless, then it is by default harmless. Baseless criticisms are tough itches to not scratch. We feel as if they are easy to disprove, and we fear of their spreading (sometimes even more than valid criticisms). Baseless criticisms are often simple in their structure, and seem to easily spread by word of mouth.

Do not ignore baseless criticisms, but do now acknowledge them with your utmost level of seriousness. The line is somewhere in between for criticisms that appear to be guided by a mix of ignorance and emotion. The term cradle comes to mind, or a guidance towards their death. Acknowledge baseless criticisms, clearly state why they are wrong in the most unemotional way you can manage, and leave them to die. You can play with them, but at no cost should you look at them as you would at a vicious canine on the loose. They are not a threat, a fact which you should consistently repeat to yourself.

Book Recommendation: 

Resilience: Facing Down Rejection and Criticism on the Road to Success

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