Coping With Criticism

But none of these things move me …
– Acts 20:24

I Have Nothing to Say to That

I used to react deeply to criticism until I acquired a valuable tool. It is the phrase, “I have nothing to say to that!”

When someone “dumps on us,” criticizes us, or tears us to shreds with angry remarks, we can just look at them with equanimity, and say, “I have nothing to say to that.” This does not mean that we do not listen and take into consideration the ideas that are appropriate. It merely means that we do not allow another person’s feelings to affect us.

Several years ago, my daughter and I were going somewhere and having a friendly conversation. All of a sudden, she began complaining about how terrible I was as a parent, and criticizing everything I ever did, am doing now, or could contemplate doing in the future. Normally, I would be devastated by such an outburst and start defending myself, but this time I did not interrupt her. She finally paused. I asked, “Is there anything else?” She added a few more barbed remarks. I asked once again, “Is there anything else?” “No!” she exclaimed. I waited a moment and then I said, “I have nothing to say to that.” She looked astounded but did not speak again. We rode home in silence.

A few days later, she asked me to drive her to a friend’s house. We rode quite a while without saying anything. Then all at once she turned to me and said, “You are the most wonderful mother a girl could ever hope to have!”

Today, I listen with equanimity to whatever is said to me. If the statement is judgmental, I remind myself that criticism just represents the opinion of another person and may have very little to do with me. I accept what applies and let the rest go.

Rev. Dr. Rainbow Johnson
ADAAP Outreach Minister