What is your default reaction when someone criticises or challenges you? Do you shut off? Do you point out their defects as well? Do you defend yourself? Do you withdraw, feeling like a worthless worm? Do you try to change yourself to please that person? Do you relish feedback, as an opportunity to grow? 

How we respond to criticism or feedback is directly rooted in our identity. What we really believe about ourselves. When we believe that we are a worm; not good enough, unlovable, an imposter, or a mistake, criticism can shatter us. Because we don’t hear ‘that action was wrong’, we hear ‘you are wrong’. 


However, when we know that we are deeply loved and righteous in Christ (rather than through the moral perfection of our actions), we can embrace feedback and handle criticism, as there is healthy separation between behaviour and identity. Criticism ceases to be so scary and becomes an exciting opportunity to grow.  

With our children we try to differentiate behaviour from identity like this; ‘You are a kind boy, but that was not a kind thing to do.’ Or, ‘You are a good girl, but that was not a good thing to do. That is not who you are and not how we expect you to behave’. Rather than ‘you are naughty’ or, ‘you are mean’.  

With adults, a helpful tool can be the ‘Hero Sandwich’. Whereby you approach a conflict situation by first telling the person what you love/ celebrate/ respect about them, then raising the issue at hand and then reinforcing what you started with- all of the positives you see in them. This helps people feel more safe and loved when receiving a challenge and more able to receive it rather than go into fight or flight mode. 

What tools have most helped you with conflict and handling criticism? 

Love Thea x