Finally, one day she drops a bomb on you in her own shy way - she timidly accuses you of being manipulative and attention-seeking. You're shocked. For a second, you feel like a villain in a fairy tale. And you have absolutely no clue how to react to this kind of criticism. How do you deal with this craziness?
#1 - Accept Your Pain
Most likely, after the shock wears off you'll feel hurt. That's perfectly understandable. It's as if you've been attacked for possessing the very qualities that you most admire about yourself- the things that make you you! And if the person who's confronted you is someone you care about or respect, that makes the pain even deeper. Shoving this pain aside or attempting to simply dismiss it is unhelpful. Bad feelings that are simply "shoved under the rug" always come back to haunt. Doing that is like ignoring the fact that a wasp has gotten into your car, even though you're deathly allergic to wasp stings. So, accept that what your friend said has caused you pain.
#2 - Assess the Person's Reason for Offering the Criticism
Understanding slows anger. When we understand the root reason why a friend says something that came across as cutting, we tend to lose some of our anger and pain. So, take a moment to quietly sit and think- to reason out why your friend criticized you so harshly. Was she hurt by something you said or did? Or was the critic a teacher or parent who sees your potential and is trying to push you towards reaching it?
#3- Sift the Lesson from the Laundry List
My grandmother used to say that even when someone accuses you of something you haven't done, you should still take it as a lesson. She was right. We can learn something from every piece of criticism we hear. So, when someone comes to you with specific criticism that they claim was tailor made for you- take what's yours!
Whether or not the criticism is accurate, everyone has the right to their own opinion. With this in mind, sometimes its best to simply say something along the lines of, "I appreciate you approaching me with your opinion, I'll think about what you said."
If it's a close friend or family member who feels that you've hurt or wronged them, it's especially important to thank them for coming to you and then apologizing for causing them pain.
The most important thing in that situation is not to keep your pride, but to keep your relationship with the one(s) you love. So, even if you don't agree with the criticism, acknowledge the courage they took in approaching you and that you never wanted to hurt them.
If, however, the critic was a bully or someone who clearly doesn't have your best interests at heart, then shut down the conversation by saying something like, "That's an interesting opinion," and then moving on to another subject. Basically, you've just ignored them. Engaging in banter with someone who's intent on bullying you is a waste of your precious time and energy. While it's true that later on your own or with a close friend you might analyze what they said, but there's no reason to add fuel to a bully's attempted fire. Instead, shut them down by refusing to engage.
Those are my basic tips on taking criticism. What are yours?