I’ve noticed recently that I am way more sensitive to criticism than I used to be. It’s not that I care what people think, but I care that people feel they must share their negative opinions with me when I didn’t ask for their opinions.
When I first realized this, I chalked it up to getting older & crankier. In time though, I realized it’s not only those things. I firmly believe it is because of having experienced narcissistic abuse.
Narcissists are most likely the most judgmental & critical of all people. They must share any & all opinions of their victims they have at all times. They favor negative ones in particular as a way to chip away at their victims’ self esteem since low self esteem makes a person easy to control & abuse.
If by some chance narcissists think something positive about their victims, they won’t offer any praise. They prefer to do much crueler things. The best option is they simply withhold praise, but that seldom happens. Instead, they prefer to claim responsibility for that good thing such as by claiming if they hadn’t pushed the victim, he or she never would have gotten that promotion at work. Narcissistic parents also claim that their victim/child got whatever talent they have from that parent. This means that when their child gets praise for something, the parent often says something along the lines of, “She got that talent from me.”
Another common scenario with narcissists is to twist the good thing in their victim around so it looks bad, thus ruining that good thing. For example, many years back, before I decided to focus only on writing, I did some editing work. I was blessed to work with one amazing client & mentioned the work to my mother. That was a huge mistake, but at that time, I didn’t know anything about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I mentioned my client & the work I was enjoying doing for her because I naively thought my mother would be happy for me. She always fancied herself a skilled writer, & she was, but she never worked in the field. I thought she might be happy that I was working in the field & enjoying myself. Well, not only did she not share my joy, but a few days later she ruined mine. She did this by saying she was thinking of getting into editing work because (& this is her wording), “it’s such easy money. Obviously anyone can do it.”
Narcissists also beat their victims down with criticism. When my husband & I got together, his mother repeatedly told me how much she hated my car. For years, I heard constant hateful comments. Many times I wanted to tell her, “I know. You hate my car. You think it’s the worst car in the whole world. There’s no need to keep telling me. I figured out how you feel after the first 50,000 times you mentioned it!”
After going through these things for years at the hands of narcissists, I really think that no matter how much we may have healed, criticism is still a very tough thing for us to handle, even when we don’t care about someone else’s opinions. We are burned out on criticism, negativity & cruelty. We also had it drilled into us how awful we are or something about us is. After years of this, we get to the point where criticism, unless it’s clearly well meaning & meant to help, is incredibly irritating. So many times I have wanted to tell someone, “Your opinion wasn’t asked for & truly means nothing. Why must you share it? And, why do you think it’s ok to be such a disrespectful jerk?”
If this describes you, I so relate! It’s frustrating! I have learned the best way to handle criticism that is unasked for & unfair is to stop for a moment. Inhale deeply then exhale to calm your mind & body. Remind yourself that you are having a reaction to the narcissistic abuse, nothing more. Also remind yourself that not all people have good social skills. Some are very critical simply because they haven’t learned any better. That doesn’t mean they are narcissists or are out to hurt you. They are simply oblivious. And, remember that just because someone is criticizing you doesn’t mean what they said is true. Consider what they have to say, & if it’s wrong, disregard it. If they are right, although it was a painful way to learn, you still learned something. That is a good thing.
If you know the person who is critical, then you know if you can talk openly to them or not. If you can, gently let them know how you feel. They may have simply not realized how what they said sounded. Or they may be struggling with something & took their frustrations out on you.
And as always, remember to pray. Ask God for wisdom & help in your situation, & He will provide you whatever you need!
4 responses to “Being Over Sensitive To Criticism”
I do have a problem with criticism for sure. I did figure out that it was more just the fact that its from people who do not really care about me and are not letting me know something for personal growth but it’s just them spewing out negatives from their own insecurities to bring me down so they feel better. I’ve learned to recognize and ignore it. But what I’m having trouble lately as a sixty year old woman is something similar. I Don’t know how to really describe it except in a rather rude way. I can no longer tolerate people pissing on me and calling it rain. Its telling me something insulting wrapped in a joke, jest or advice. Like the woman at Church who said “A woman of a certain age really should not have long hair, its just really ages her and is not becoming.” As she turns to look at me, an older woman with long gray hair! Who in the world thinks that’s ok to say. She should have topped it off with just kidding, then it would have been complete. My Mom, Dad and siblings have always done it. I know my whole sibling family is an emotional mess from a selfish dad and a Narcissist mentally ill mom but I just cant even tolerate it any more. I have distanced from anyone family or otherwise who does it to me and I will no longer even deal with them in any way. I feel like people have done it to me my whole life and my tolerance tank is full. My husband, daughter and son are all I have left and they are more than enough. Thanks for this article, they always mean a lot and thanks for listening.
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I totally understand you! That kind of thing gets so incredibly old, doesn’t it? The lady at church with the long hair.. that type of behavior gets to me too! Such hypocrisy! UGH!! And even if that wasn’t a part of this, why even have an opinion on the hair of other people in the first place? How does it affect her, yanno? In fact, why have an opinion on that in the first place? I guess like you, my tolerance tank is also full. (Love that phrase, by the way)
Your circle may be small but the connections sound wonderful. Quality sure beats quantity in relationships! ❤
Thank you so much for your voice! I deal with this and for me, I find it is the subtleties of abuse mostly within the Body of Christ and it gets me in an emotional knot! I pray about it and wonder if sometimes I am too sensitive to abuse issues but in the end, it comes down to what I am willing to deal with. I do agree that many don’t understand they are even using abusive tactics. I have to wonder if this is more a generational thing because the world has gotten so loud. Would love your feedback. Take care and God Bless!
Thank you so much! ❤
I really wonder if a good part of this situation is due to social media. Social media makes it acceptable & even expected to share your opinions. Plus, people have no trouble saying anything they want online. It seems to have made people more comfortable with being judgmental & critical, even cruel. As time goes on though it seems like what used to be ok on social media is now spilling over into real life. I think social media can be a great way to keep up with people, but it also has made a lot of people way too comfortable being disrespectful & even hateful.
I don't think it's the entire problem though. Some people I've learned are very insecure & lack people skills. Putting others down helps them to feel superior. While that is one thing many narcissists do, non-narcissists do it sometimes too.
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