How I Handle Criticism


Recently, I received an email from a reader who has a deep desire to play big in her life and career. There’s only one problem, she’s terrified of the type of criticism she might receive if she really puts herself out there. “Kris, how do you navigate the good, bad and ugly?”

What a fantastic question!

First and foremost, I’ve cultivated a sacred relationship with myself. I literally have my own back,  and I’m an excellent (self) bodyguard. I also believe in myself and … drum roll please … I like me. Sure, meanies can still sting me a bit, but I can’t be torn down easily.

Good reviews, bad reviews, why hold onto either? If you believe you’re the next Jesus, then you’d better believe you’re the devil too. That’s the roller coaster ride you buy a ticket for when you choose to get caught up in others’ opinions of you. As long as what you’re putting out in the world resonates with you, feels good in your soul’s tummy, and helps folks, that’s all the validation you need.

Here’s another test: Would you be proud of what you’re doing ten years from now? Twenty years, etc? If so, charge on! Over the Crazy Sexy years, I’ve experienced a bloody wrestling match with criticism. I’m not going to lie, every once in awhile I wish my life were simpler and more private. But then I realize that I signed up for more this time around. And more is stunning and complicated. Not everyone is open to my wellness philosophy, irreverent sass, my desire to be a smart businesswoman and my willingness to stand up for animals, people and the planet.

So how can we learn to separate constructive criticism from useless, finger-wagging whining? On top of that, how do we build a tougher shell to fight against bullies? It’s simple: 99 percent of the time, the stabbing comment is not about you. It’s about them. The haters will hate because they are hurt and sad and mad. Your shine freaks the holy-hell fuck out of them. Capiche? In these situations, the quicker you shake it off and march forward, the better. Send compassion, love and forgiveness to the person attacking you. Yuck!? Yeah, I know that can be a hard pill to swallow. But boy does it reframe the situation fast. Maybe they’re having a bad day or haven’t quite learned to master the fine art of communication. Whatever the case: Never let their issues bring you down.

If you can be honest with yourself, it’s pretty easy to see what information is beneficial and what needs to be tossed. Can’t see things clearly? Ask a trusted friend or colleague. Here’s another way to look at harsh commentary: When you start to get a reaction from the outside world, you know that you’re pushing boundaries and challenging yourself (and others) to grow. So, rock on pioneer!

More safe ways to deal with criticism:

1. Consider the source. Is the commenter a friend or foe? Are they speaking from a place of security and openness or anger and negativity? Even if you don’t know the person, you can usually tell a lot about them from their tone. Often, destructive, snarky criticism is a projection of the insecurity and unresolved issues of the giver. These comments can be the most biting, but also the most unfounded and telling. When you march to your own beat, you’re going to piss people off because it makes them feel uneasy about their place in the world. Thought-provokers are prime targets for being misquoted and manipulated, and you can’t control that – trust me!

Take a breath and objectively examine the source before crawling into a hole of self-loathing. Plus, that person is already occupying the hole. Do you really want to hang with them?

2. Practice non-attachment. Whether the response is good or bad, you will benefit from creating distance between yourself and your work. These remarks don’t define you as a person. And remember what I said a hot second ago. You can’t control how folks perceive you. If you really want to dampen your spark, go ahead and try. Seriously, it’s not possible, so just keep your side of the street clean and let go. For example, health is a hot-button issue for a whole lotta folks. To keep moving ahead, I have to remind myself that I am not merely the product of my work. I am not an inspirational patient. I am not a trailblazer. I am not a glass of green juice. I am not defined by how the world perceives my work. I am Kris. No more, no less. Sure I have goals. But my work and my life are very different – even though my life is deeply embedded in my work. Make sense? If I allowed myself to be defined by these things, I would’ve stopped years ago.

And remember this: Just because someone says something about you, it doesn’t mean it’s true. Is one weak voice going to silence you? No way!

3. Pull out the gems. Once in a while, you’ll receive a big honking piece of fabulous feedback. This type of critique is one of the greatest gifts a person can give you. Cherish these nuggets even if they’re difficult to digest. Constructive criticism may make you feel a little uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t hurt your feelings or cut you down. Instead, it can teach you how to better serve and build your business.

A special note about the Internet: Remember that the Internet gives everyone a voice. That’s what’s so great about it. But it also makes your computer screen an emotional landmine. People who are in pain have a really easy time venting from a laptop, especially if they never have to meet you in person or be held accountable. Journalists too. No matter how lovely they may seem, they often have their own agendas that do not include your best interest. If you find yourself at a place in your career where you are being interviewed, check out the writer. Does he or she have a respectful, clean tone? How intelligent is the person? Are their values aligned with yours? If not, you can say … no. Opportunities will come and go, you’ll always have them. I promise.

Bottom line: Don’t let the fear of criticism hold you back. Use the good stuff as rocket fuel, the thoughtful advice to hone your message, and throw the junk in the trash where it belongs.

Photo credit: TeX HeX

Peace & encouragement,

Kris Carr

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31 responses to How I Handle Criticism
  1. Wow! What great advice. I am someone who internalizes way too much and I take everything personally. I will try to live by this now but I foresee it being a bit of a struggle anyway!

  2. Good advice once again – thanks for sharing your rocking world with all of us!

  3. Kris, thank you for this pearl of wisdom. It’s such a breakthrough when we realise we don’t have to take on every bit of criticism we receive. As you so succinctly point out, criticism is often all about the other person. As a former approval-a-holic, the freedom that comes from choosing to ignore criticism (and, conversely, choosing to really absorb fabulous constructive feedback) is marvellous.

    PS – I’m in the middle of your 21-day cleanse. I have lost 3.5 kilos and am now a gluten-free sugar-free vegan – thank you!

  4. I really enjoyed this piece Kris. Thoughtful, inspiring, and great for re-affirming my belief in myself.

    …and as for any criticisms you may get on account of what you believe in and stand for, frankly makes me scratch my head. Your original book changed my life, and may well have saved my ass!

    In addition to that, even a cursory glance at the amount of users you have on your site clearly indicates that your ‘wellness theories’ resonate with a lot more people than maybe the mainstream media, or whoever, cares to realise.

    There’s millions of us out there with the same fundamental beliefs – And you do, and have done, a brilliant job of advocating these beliefs.

    Keep on rocking, Kris!

  5. Nice!

  6. Thanks guys! Loving u and missing u! x kc

  7. Fantastic advice! You are so smart, lovely and fabulous! Thanks for sharing.

  8. GREAT post!! All too often we give away our power (and opportunity) by holding onto fear of what someone may think of us. When you get to a certain age (ahem!), you stop giving a shit anyway. So might as well practice this early in life, and enjoy the ride.

  9. Thank you for this on the day that I needed it most! I recently found your site, and very glad I did. Such useful information, your such an inspiration!!

  10. THANKS!! You just detox cleansed the neurosis in my brain. Now back to building my empire. MUHAHAHA 😉

  11. Great advice thank you! Kris do a VLOG!! We miss you!

  12. I don’t trust the New York Times with vegan content. Period. Let that lesson help all of us. Thanks for sharing this, Kris! So well-written, honest and helpful. :)

    Marie Forleo answered one of my questions about criticism on her Q&A Tuesday. I asked if my vegan queer blog would alienate people, and she told me absolutely and not to worry about it. With your advice and hers, women everywhere will become empowered to take on the world in the name of peace and veganism. thanks again!

  13. Great blog! So wise for “your years”…lol. I would like to ad something….your posse’ is so very loyal and protective of you that I bet it’s difficult for too many negative folks to pipe in without getting flogged! I remember seeing some nagger on Amazon (maybe 1 negative comment out of hundreds of glorious ones) and of course I honed in on that one. Well, I felt like that Elvis song….”Lord ‘O mighty, I feel my temperature rising”….Anyhoo, you get the gist…You da bomb and are loved for who you are, you put SO much good stuff out there for the rest of us, and are literally making a difference in our lives…for many of us who didn’t have great options for healing. Maybe in the big scheme, a little acid isn’t so bad, especially when there is so much alkaline love to balance our “emotional pH”….xxoo M

  14. LOVE this post! I have someone in the business world I just cannot seem to get off my back when it comes to negativity and these pointers are a HUGE help! Thank you for being such a great mentor!

  15. I so needed that right now. You rock my world KC! (And I’m on day 7 of the 21 day cleanse so that world is being seen through beautiful green colored glasses.)

  16. love it!

  17. Awesome commentary. And it IS more about the people criticizing than about Perron being criticized. I hope that this article helps your readers.

  18. Awesome commentary. And it IS more about the people criticizing than about person being criticized. I hope that this article helps your readers.

  19. Well Said!! Yes, non-attachement, even if it is praise. Something everyone, especially any artist, could really use some work on-it’s HARD!

  20. kris-i love you! thank you for your always empowering words!

  21. I couldn’t agree more with the advice. The one thing I would add that goes with the non attachment thing is the whole “do not engage”. When you live your life right out there, the criticism can sting that much more as it becomes personal- no matter what. I have found engaging in the personal party poopers becomes a greater energy drain. That’s when I chant the mantra I subscribed to from Ekhart Tolle- that it is better to be at peace than to be right.

    It comes down to the energy we want out there. Discussion is fine. And as soon as we have a powered and impassioned opinion there will be someone to disagree with it. That’s better, in my opinion, than no one, including myself, caring at all.

  22. As always, fabulous advice thanks Kris. I get some weird emails from other stage4 women questioning the positivity in my blog and everything you just wrote in this post has helped me understand it more.
    More Vlogs soon pleeeeeeease x

  23. The rule of thirds is something I find liberating. No matter what you do or say, 1/3 of people will like it, 1/3 will dislike it and 1/3 just won’t care. So go ahead and do it, say it, live to the fullest.

  24. As a 19 year old college student who has decided to be a vegan, I come into contact with criticism a lot, and it can be really discouraging. My mom thinks I should be more “mainstream;” whenever she says that, it makes me so upset! From now on, I am going to try to incorporate your idea of non-attachment, because I know that this is the way I want to live my life, whether other people understand it or not.

  25. I totally agree with everything you are saying here. I really appreciate how you have taken the time to share this post with everyone. It is so true that the hurtful or discouraging things that people say are more about them than us. I am proud to say that I love and value myself, enough to turn criticism around and view it as a way to learn and grow. At the end of the day, you are the only person who has control over how you feel, so be free and live life with love!

  26. Kris…Your the bomb! Thanks for this great article…you are so real and out there and I admire your corage and strength!

  27. I heard this recently and it might help: “It’s none of my business what you (others) think of me” I guess it truly only matters what we think of ourselves.

  28. Thank you for your advice. I had been having trouble at work, cause I wow clients, by just being me, only to find, it did bother coworkers, like you say, they must have felt uneasy about their “place”. It did cause me to hibernate, and thanks to you, I will shake it off and continue being me, the best that I can be, and turn my shine right back on!

  29. “Become yourself, then God and the Devil don’t matter!” – Idries Shah. 😉

    Great stuff!

  30. Dear Kris Carr, I just viewed your website and am happy to say that it is beautifully done with Nature all over it and its fantastic. I eat this way myself and never look back. The food mind and spirit are connected and you have a very powerful message to share with the world. You are being just your self and you walk your talk and this is important. Happy New Year and much Happiness for living in the present.

    Kindest Barry Anderson aka Chef Barry Gourmet & Raw

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