Q. How do you deal with negative comments, especially when they are directed toward you?

A. First, each brain is as unique as the person’s thumbprint. Therefore, each person’s opinion comes out of that brain and may have little if any relevance to my brain’s reality.

Second, I remind myself that criticism is often a defense mechanism used by individuals who struggle with self-esteem issues. After all, if they would never do what I did (assumption being they disagree with what I said or did), then they must be better than I am, or do things more perfectly than I do. This gives them a temporary, though specious, boost to their self-worth. It’s a dysfunctional strategy, however. In order to maintain their tenuous grasp on self-worth, they must continually find fault with others. When I received unsolicited “negative” comments, I will usually “scan” them to ascertain if there is anything I can learn or glean from them. If so, well and good. If not, I metaphorically blow the comment away, much as I would blow a rose pedal from my outstretched palm.

One of my favorite sayings is: Your opinion is none of my business. That doesn’t imply a lack of caring. Rather a taking care that another brain’s negatively doesn’t impact my brain adversely. I choose how I will respond to criticism, especially unsolicited criticism. A quote by Viktor Frankl speaks to this as well: Everything can be taken from us but one thing—the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.

You may want to read my article entitled Ostrich Syndrome. It contains an example of how I talk myself through negative comments.