This recently happened to me. A good bit of criticism. I actually paid people to do it, but still. :) I entered my book in the Published Nonfiction category in the 2017 Oregon Christian Writer's awards contest.

"Humble brag" alert: It is now one of three finalists!  Good news, amazing, how does that happen?

Of course, that's not what I'm choosing to focus on. I'd rather dwell on the critique sheets I received from the judges. You know... criticism.  I specifically signed up to be judged, spending the money to send copies of my book to judges for that very reason. Yet, how dare they! :)  The following five tips aided my criticism recovery time tremendously. I hope they help you too.

 CRITICISM HURTS. A LOT.

Criticism or judgment just happens to be our (socially anxious people’s) achilles heel. To put it in the simplest terms: it feels really really bad. And no matter how we try to intellectualize it, or deny it… it cuts like a knife. I feel it in my heart and stomach, a burning searing sensation. It doesn’t matter if the criticism is constructive, true, or valid. It still hurts. So how do we get through it? Here are 5 simple tips that should make the process (almost) smooth sailing.

TIP #1: FEEL ALL THE FEELS 

There is a complicated mix of brain/body factors at play in how we experience judgment. But we don’t care about that, we just know it hurts. Our traditional approach is called emotional suppression (push those feelings down/away). Emotional suppression doesn’t help and it’s not healthy. It’s almost as if we expect ourselves to be robots and FEEL NOTHING. Well, we are not robots. Go ahead and feel all the feels. This is exactly how God expects you to feel, as a human. No point in feeling bad about feeling bad. Confess your broken heart to God. Tell him how bad you feel. And then quickly move on to the next step.

TIP #2: DISTRACT

The pain of judgment is always bad... AT FIRST. But if you give yourself some time, it will fade. Watch a movie. Start a sweet project. Get a good night’s rest. Do not respond to criticism, defend yourself, or try to decide if the criticism is valid. Not yet, anyway. Give your heart/body/soul some breathing room to recover.

TIP #3: ASSIGN AUTHORITY

Usually, within 24 hours, the pain has lessened. Now you are ready to mentally work through it. Time to decide who has authority over your life. Who will you assign judging duties to?

You don’t have to accept criticism or judgment from another human being as truth. Technically, they don't know any more about life than you do. You are on equal footing. You’re both operating from a flawed, human viewpoint. Even if the criticism comes from someone in authority (a deacon, elder, mentor, parent, etc.), only God has all the knowledge and facts needed to judge. And he has judged you as perfect (oh, thank you Jesus for that!). That's GRACE.

TIP #4: LET IT MAKE YOU BETTER

Still, I bet there’s something in that criticism that strikes you as truthful. A hint of something that just MIGHT make you better. Maybe it’s not even the message your criticizer intended to leave you with. And maybe (?) their motives were to hurt you. But usually there’s something in there that can benefit you. Take it and run with it, like the prize fighter you are. Not to condemn yourself, but to burst through obstacles and be an overcomer. 

And please remember: even if you never do ‘become better’, you are loved thoroughly just exactly as you are. No changes required. All Jesus.

TIP #5: GIVE YOURSELF A LOT OF CREDIT

Because if you’ve worked through the top 4 steps, and emerge without becoming condemned or downtrodden… you are kind of amazing. Spiritually mature (or maturing!). And God is always on your side. You are the apple of His eye, and the bible says someday He will compose a song and sing it about YOU. He's probably already got the lyrics written. About little old you. 
Do you have your own coping methods for criticism? Chime in below!

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