Taking it Personally

Do you take criticism and negative feedback deeply personally?

Taking it personally

Why do we take things personally?

When we rely on external things (people, situations, accolades, money etc) to make us feel good about ourselves, it makes sense that it totally floors us when someone gives us criticism or negative feedback. These things are like the black hole of confidence for us and it means that our confidence is fragile and often feels like we are clinging to a rollercoaster.

How does it impact everyday life?

Often when we are at a confidence low, we become hungry for that next high and are prone to overworking, people pleasing, perfectionism, over-controlling or even crawling under the duvet until the shame and hopelessness subsides. Sound familiar? Having our ‘confidence’ linked to external things means that we are perpetually at the mercy of other people. This isn’t confidence. This is faux confidence. This is a sticky plaster that never really sticks for long. The sooner we can develop confidence from the inside, that isn’t dependent on anyone or anything else, the sooner we can stop spinning in circles and start making progress.


As social beings, we have an inclination to connect with others and so external validation is a way of building much needed social bonds. However when too much value is put on others it may be detrimental to our mental health and happiness. Society and families where success is highly valued may lead people to over-emphasise the importance of others opinions in order to feel a sense of achievement. It is also common for people who struggle with their own self esteem to doubt their own ideas and actions, seeking validation from others for reassurance.

Remember that other people are allowed to have opinions. You can’t control this and their opinions are in fact nothing to do with you. Often they are actually more of a reflection of them than they are of you. In reality your suffering comes from what you make their opinions mean. The stories you tell yourself. The next time you take something personally, grab a pen and write down the thoughts you are having that are creating the negative emotions. When you have calmed down, revisit these thoughts and ask yourself how true they really were. Sometimes we need to see our mind in the cold light of day to get some perspective.

Download the interactive worksheet below for resources to help you stop taking it personally.