So often we are immobilized by the slightest criticism. We treat it like an emergency, and defend ourselves as if we were in a battle. In truth, however, criticism is nothing more than an observation by another person about us, our actions, or the way we think about something, that doesn't match the vision we have of ourselves. Big deal!
When we react to criticism with a knee-jerk, defensive response, it hurts. We feel attacked, and we have a need to defend or to offer a counter-criticism. We fill our minds with angry or hurtful thoughts directed at ourselves or at the person who is being critical. All this reaction takes an enormous amount of mental energy.
An incredibly useful exercise is to agree with criticism directed toward you. I'm not talking about turning into a doormat or ruining your self-esteem by believing all negativity that comes in your direction. I'm only suggesting that there are many times when simply agreeing with criticism defuses the situation, satisfies a person's need to express a point of view, offers you a chance to learn something about yourself by seeing a grain of truth in another position, and, perhaps the most important, provides you an opportunity to remain calm.
One of the first times I consciously agreed with criticism directed toward me was many years ago when my mum said to me, “Sometimes you talk too much.” I remember feeling momentarily hurt before deciding to agree. I responded by saying “You're right, I do talk too much sometimes.” I discovered something that changed my life. In agreeing with her, I was able to see that she had a good point. I often do talk too much! What's more, my non-defensive helped her to relax. A few minutes later she said, “You know, you're sure easy to talk to.” I doubt she would have said that had I become angry at her observation. I've since learned that reacting to criticism never makes the criticism go away. In fact, negative reactions to criticism often convince the person doing the criticizing that they are accurate in their assessment of you.
Give this strategy a try. I think you'll discover that agreeing with an occasional criticism has more value than it costs.