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5 Ways That Mindfulness Can Help You Accept Criticism

1. Stop and Breathe

When you take a deep breath, you connect again to your body. You instantly ground yourself in the moment and root yourself to the earth. When you get criticism, it can trigger the stress hormone cortisol which narrows your view into a fight or flight context. It blinds you. Suddenly you can find yourself seeing the other person as a mortal threat that you need to kill or run from.

Taking a few deep breaths, as the saying goes, can change everything.

2. Slow Down

Too often we shut down, defend, and resist in the face of criticism. But mindfulness can help you strengthen the parts of the brain that support your capacity to stop, slow down, listen, absorb, and breathe. Frankly, it’s amazing what slowing down can do. Slowing down will keep you from saying or doing things you may later regret.

And now that you’ve pushed the pause button on your desire to throw the offending critic out the window, a whole range of other possibilities kick into gear.

3. Listen

First, you can slow down and repeat the feedback to the person who shared it with you. A small but mindful act like this can do wonders. It allows you to reclaim control of your rational faculties. You can start to relate to the actual information and not only your primitive response to it.

Often we can’t even hear what the other person is saying because we are in the tunnel vision of our fight or flight response. But if you pause, wait, and listen, good things can happen. You’ll actually hear what they are saying.

4 .Observe Your Response

Mindfulness is about being present with what is and not reacting out of hand. If you can actually be interested in your emotional response, it will help to tame it too. According to Ruby Wax, “Researchers at UCLA found that when people become aware of their anger and label it as ‘anger,’ the amygdala, the part of the brain that generates negative emotion, calms down.”

When you observe your responses, you start to transcend them. That process can remind you there is more to this moment than your natural contraction. Then, you can ride it out and make space for some of your higher brain functions to kick in.

5. Consider The Information

Being mindful of all your responses, breathing, slowing down, listening…all of these put you in the position of being able to actually respond to the evidence. You need to find some solid ground under your feet so you can consciously engage with and consider the feedback. Mindfulness helps you to do that.

And as soon as you do, you’re already diverting energy and attention away from your stress induced responses. You’ll be able to consider the other person and where they’re coming from. You can appreciate that they might actually have your best interests in mind. And, they may actually have a point!