Criticism can be hard for everyone, but highly sensitive people have more trouble accepting it. It affects them in many ways that others often don’t realize. As a highly sensitive person, you likely try hard to do your best and care about how things turn out.

When someone criticizes you, it can make you feel like your effort wasn’t enough and make you question everything. You’re not alone in how criticism makes you feel, as many other highly sensitive people experience the same feelings. There are ways you can learn to accept criticism better without letting it tear you down.

These methods can help you learn to accept criticism and reduce the stress it brings. While it might intensely affect an HSP, you can use these ideas to make it easier.

Identifying Highly Sensitive People

An HSP describes those more sensitive to physical, emotional, or social stress. They have a sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS), leading to strong reactions to internal or external stimuli. Many people believe HSPs are too sensitive, but their sensitivity comes with strengths that others don’t experience.

Highly sensitive people get deeply affected by violence, tension, and overwhelming feelings. They often try to avoid situations that might involve these experiences.

HSPs also find deep inspiration in beautiful signs or sounds. It could involve art, nature, music, or anything else. They experience deep thoughts and intense feelings, leading to a rich inner life.

Highly sensitive people can become overwhelmed by sensory stimulation. Crowded places, bright lights, and loud noises can negatively impact them. They often need time alone to unwind, especially after becoming overly stimulated.

highly sensitive people

Why Criticism Affects Highly Sensitive People More Than Others

Those with high sensitivity react strongly to criticism, affecting them more than it impacts others. They develop deep connections, have exciting dreams, and find joy in creativity. Because of that, they put their heart into everything they do, pay close attention to detail, and strive for perfection.

Criticism makes them feel like their efforts are meaningless, making them question everything about themselves. Their deep connections to the things they do and the people in their lives make them more emotionally and mentally stimulated by negative words about their efforts.

They begin thinking with their limbic system, where triggers, past emotional memories, and shame get stored. It leads to ignoring logical thoughts that tell them they shouldn’t take criticism personally.

Instead, the painful memories and feelings make them feel like they aren’t good enough. These negative feelings make them want to avoid criticism, leading to people-pleasing behaviors. They attempt to meet people’s expectations at the expense of their happiness or well-being.

Criticism is also hard for HSPs because they pick up on things others don’t. They assess body language and tone or read between the lines of an email. It allows them to see what others miss and leads to assuming the other person means something else entirely.

Highly sensitive people are also more empathetic than others. When they receive critical feedback, they start thinking of how they let the other person down. They become ashamed and take longer to process the comments.

How Highly Sensitive People Can Accept Criticism

As a highly sensitive person, you’ll experience feelings that others don’t, and that’s okay. Your thoughts and feelings aren’t wrong, and you can decide how you want to handle them.

How you handle your emotions after experiencing criticism can make a difference. Here are some of the things you can do to learn to accept critical comments:

1 – Highly Sensitive People Should Use Feedback to Build Self-Esteem

Building your self-esteem can help you accept critical things other people say because you’ll know what to believe. When you have self-esteem, the harsh words won’t sting as much. It also encourages growth, allowing you to see that what someone says might be beneficial.

Building self-esteem takes time, but continually working on it can help you with acceptance. It allows you to learn to let go of the pain and decide how to proceed.

Holding onto critical comments can hurt, and the negative feelings won’t ease unless you can use them to your benefit. Rather than harboring the pain, you can use it to work on yourself and build self-esteem. It promotes healing and helps you find ways to better your life without toxic people belittling you.

2 – Let Go of Your Desire for Perfectionism

When you let go of your need for perfection, it’s easier to accept criticism. You can use it to improve your skills or recognize it as destructive and let it go. People-pleasing behavior often leads to the desire for perfection, so it also requires doing things for yourself instead of others.

Striving for perfection or wanting to please others can make critical words hurt more. It’s a reminder that no one is perfect, no matter how hard you try. Accepting that you’ll make mistakes and that other people won’t always be happy with your work is beneficial for learning to accept criticism.

3 – Consider Whether It’s Constructive

One of the best ways for highly sensitive people to accept criticism is to determine if it’s constructive or deconstructive. Constructive criticism respectfully points out faults and involves tips for improving next time. Destructive criticism uses harsh words and may leave you feeling attacked. It also doesn’t include advice for improvement.

After considering whether it’s constructive criticism, you can decide how to handle it. You can either accept it as positive advice or a way to grow. Or you can recognize it as deconstructive and let it go without harboring the negative feelings you experience.

Ask questions to gain clarity if you’re unsure whether it’s constructive. You don’t want to misinterpret anything, and there’s nothing wrong with inquiring.

4 – Highly Sensitive People Must Build Self-Compassion

Having self-compassion during these experiences can help you accept them. It helps validate your feelings and overcome negative emotions.

Experts indicate that self-compassion improves psychological well-being and promotes happiness, optimism, and connectedness. It also decreases anxiety, depression, fear of failure, and rumination. With self-compassion, you can recognize your worth despite critical words.

Practicing self-compassion helps you remember your values and intentions. While criticism might hurt, compassion can help you focus on the good things about yourself.

Then, you can accept criticism without letting negativity consume your thoughts. Consider telling yourself some of the positive aspects of yourself to neutralize the negative words.


5 – Know That Their Opinion Doesn’t Matter

Remember that criticism is one person’s opinion, and others might feel differently. Understanding that you can choose what to believe can make all the difference in your ability to accept things.

You can’t force everyone to like you; naturally, some people won’t. However, you have people who love you, and you can learn self-love and how to support your sensitivity.

6 – Remember It’s More About Them

Sometimes the person who criticizes you says untrue things, and it’s not entirely about you. They do this when experiencing emotional pain, frustration, or lack of courage to try something themselves.

Remember that sometimes you’ll do a great job and still receive comments from critics. They might point out what you need to work on or want to spread negativity and make you feel bad.

What people say can help you recognize how they see the world. Their experiences may differ from yours, and their wounds can lead to them offering unwarranted criticism. The critical statements aren’t always about you because they can indicate that the person can’t relate.

7 – Highly Sensitive People Should Take Time Before Responding

Sometimes the best way to accept critical remarks is to take some time before responding. It’s easy to want to become defensive and say intense things, but you’ll likely regret it later.

Instead, take a step back and allow time to process before you say or do anything. It can help you think clearly, and you may find it’s best not to respond.

Highly sensitive people often think they must respond to everything, explaining themselves or their intentions. However, it’s not always worth the effort and can make you feel worse.

Taking time before responding might allow you to see the positive aspects of the critical remark. Rather than viewing it as a personal attack, you can recognize it as an opportunity for growth.

8 – Practice Self-Care

Self-care is one of the best ways to accept criticism because it helps you remember all the good things about yourself. Plus, you can release the negative words easier when your health and well-being are cared for. Doing what makes you feel good can make all the difference in comforting yourself and regaining balance.

9 – Set and Implement Boundaries

Setting boundaries is essential in your professional and personal relationships. Many people think they can’t have limits at work, so they internalize harsh words. Then, when they get home, the negativity takes over and can cause them to snap at those in their personal life.

Rather than letting critical words affect your personal life, set boundaries so you can leave them at work. Your mistakes at work or what people say about you don’t portray your character.

10 – Highly Sensitive People Must Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness helps you deal with things positively as it promotes keeping your emotions in check. Some of the benefits include:

  • developing inner strength
  • calming your thoughts
  • overcoming insecurities
  • developing self-awareness to recognize your strengths and weaknesses
  • increased ability to assess the validity of the criticism
  • transforming your inner critic
  • building self-esteem
  • seeing personal development possibilities
  • preventing others from controlling you
  • calming your mind
  • being more open-minded
  • improving intuition

highly sensitive people

Final Thoughts on Ways for Highly Sensitive People to Accept Criticism

Everyone can offer criticism, but it doesn’t always mean you’ve done something wrong. Some people say things to hurt you rather than to help you improve. However, assessing whether you’re receiving deconstructive or constructive criticism is essential.

Constructive criticism can help you grow and get better at what you’re passionate about. Deconstructive remarks should be accepted and released as unhelpful. Taking the time to think it through can make all the difference.

Learning how to accept critical remarks is valuable and can improve your life. You’ll feel better and learn not to let it affect you as hard.