how emotions are made criticism

How Emotions Are Made: Criticism


Criticism is the act of expressing disapproval or judgement of someone or something. It’s inevitable and often part of everyday life. Whether it’s constructive or destructive criticism, understanding how to handle it can be challenging. Often, people react emotionally when their work or behavior is criticized. Understanding how emotions are made, particularly in a critical situation, can help manage reactions more productively.

The Role of Emotions in Dealing with Criticism

Emotions such as fear, sadness, and anger influence how we react to criticism. When given negative feedback, fear may trigger an individual’s response mechanism into self-defense mode causing an unproductive defensive reaction. However, understanding how emotions play a role in handling criticism helps an individual react more rationally.

Criticism and the Brain

The brain’s response to criticism varies from person to person. Still, neuroplasticity plays a significant role when processing emotional experiences to overtime morph one’s responses to a specific emotion. People who have experienced traumatic criticism might be wired to respond aggressively by protecting themselves rather than positively critiquing their work and actions progressively.

Emotions are regulated on both cognitive and physiological levels within the brain. The prefrontal cortex houses a cognitive area where individuals process emotions and self-regulate behaviors based on these emotions. Thus people with higher emotional intelligence regulate stress levels consciously guiding themselves instead of relying on involuntary reflexes.

Neuroplasticity and Emotional Regulation

The brain is capable of changing its structure over time, allowing for adjustments in learned responses such as reactions to criticism. A study published by Richard J Davidson in 2004 showed that mindfulness practices alter the grey matter density of the amygdala- a region involved in processing emotions- resulting in increased resilience to emotional stimuli, among other advantages as well.1

Emotional Intelligence and Criticism

Emotional intelligence adds to the ability to control one’s emotional reactions when criticism arises, which is critical when managing emotionally charged situations. Individuals who are naturally emotionally intelligent tend to exhibit sufficient self-awareness to identify their emotional responses. In contrast, individuals who lack these strengths may resort to combative responses and lack proper emotional regulation.

Understanding the Five Components of Emotional Intelligence

  • Self-awareness: Understanding where one is at emotionally.
  • Self-regulation: The capability of controlling impulsivity, negative reactions, and triggers.
  • Motivation: Showcasing emotion that helps people progress in life.
  • Empathy: Recognizing emotions in others through body language, tonality or any form of non-verbal communication
  • Social Skills: The ability to navigate social settings correctly

Developing Emotional Intelligence to Handle Criticism

Learning these five components and then practicing them regularly can help with handling criticism better since people have a more comprehensive understanding of their emotional state. They learn to separate ego from self and noting valuable points that constructive criticism brings up instead of responding negatively and destructively.

The Social Psychology of Criticism

The way we receive criticism is heavily influenced by social situations such as group dynamics or cultural norms. A person’s increased attractiveness, extroverted personality type, or even differences related to access of resources can change how criticism is received and reacted upon2.

Understanding the Effect of Group Dynamics on Receiving Criticism

Group dynamics can affect how people react to criticism. In some cultures, for example, any form of criticism is shunned since it can be seen as humiliating. However, in other societies, people value criticism and encourage it because it represents a dedication to progress. Therefore, interpreting collective norms and values helps to gain perspective regarding reactions to criticism.

Cognitive Processes in Criticism

Moreover, critical feedback involves cognitive processing in terms of how one perceives the situation. Emotions come into play as well as they guide people to understand cognitive content. The way one perceives one’s abilities may lack reality-based thinking or clouded by negative self-thoughts that affect the reactions towards criticism3.

Identifying Cognitive Distortions When Receiving Negative Feedback

Cognitive distortions are common thought patterns that are typically unhealthy and lead to a more negative experience. By being able to recognize these thoughts we can challenge them through logic and reason while coping with negative feedback better and productivity as well.

Different Types of Criticism

Constructive criticism is less emotionally-charged than destructive criticism. It provides a solution-oriented approach that creates a safe environment for a person to grow while highlighting potential areas of improvement. Destructive criticisms aim at putting people down without producing anything productive4.

Types of Constructive Criticism

There are several types of constructive suggestions people can offer others including; Positive Appraisal, Sequential Evaluation, Ratio-Based Assessment, Sandwich method – Compliment followed by points requiring improvement – although there are variations on this also gives the message to an individual that their work is worthwhile along with some areas needing improvement.

Coping Strategies for Dealing with Criticism

Given the inevitability of encountering criticism at some point in life, coping strategies can play a vital role in making sure individuals have the tools they need when faced with negative feedback.

Finding Gratitude in Criticism

Often, people find themselves fixated on the negative feedback and fail to recognize the positive aspects of what is being delivered. Shifting attention can provide an opportunity to be grateful for the constructive aspects of any feedback received.

Changing the Narrative Around Perceived Failure and Mistakes

Changing narratives around criticism while not ignoring the value of positive remarks from it is a way to cope better with negative feedback. Creating a contingency plan you enact when faced with failure to minimize negative self-talk can be helpful since changing thought patterns takes time.

Cultivating Resilience Against Criticism

Resilience building involves practicing vulnerability regularly. People who put themselves out in an open public space tend to face extreme criticism more often than those who lead private lives. Resilience helps build an unwavering foundation even against strong personal attacks.

Building Resilience To Tough Days (And Critical People)

By focusing on intentional behavior rather than reacting intuitively, people can learn to push resistance aside in their heads and stand firm within themselves. It is advised that individuals take either five minutes or up to half an hour to focus on something that they enjoy doing before resuming any activity that may trigger stress.

The Role of Self-Care and Vulnerability In Cultivating Resilience

Self-care plays a vital role in cultivating resilience since taking breaks during stressful periods ensures that rest times are intentional rather than passive regeneration without experiencing the help associated with downtime.

Vulnerability creates credibility as well since it allows others and chance to know about our challenges and coping strategies. Also, vulnerable people understand emotions- expressing them healthily while being empathetic towards others since they have fought battles with them too.

Dealing with Extreme Criticism

When facing extreme criticism, it’s important to understand that the comments and opinions stated do not define a person’s worth and to surround oneself with supportive people or groups. To combat irrational reactions to any negative feedback, an individual must also ground themselves in evidence-based thinking and practice affirmations regularly to counteract any negativity bombarded towards them5.

Overcoming Harsh and Malicious Personal Attacks

It’s also advised that individuals seek support through therapy sessions to handle critical attacks since it helps get rid of all baggage that can be limiting when trying to forge new paths in life.

Learning To Protect Your Mental Health From Extreme Critics

In some cases, shielding oneself from extreme criticism or perhaps just altering the intensity of the fire hose’s pressure while combating critical thoughts is needed sometimes for optimal health.


Critique can lead to resentment and negativity. However, harnessing emotional regulation, cognitive processes, mindfulness coupled with an understanding of constructive criticism and vulnerability strengthens personal growth both personally and socially. While criticism may seem like an enemy at times, it can prove invaluable for personal growth if tackled skillfully.


How emotions are made criticism: Answering 7 frequently asked questions

1. What is “emotion”?

Emotion refers to a state of consciousness that involves a subjective experience, physical sensations, and a range of behaviors or responses. It is usually triggered by a certain event or stimulus and may vary in intensity and duration, depending on various factors.

2. What is “criticism”?

Criticism refers to the act of evaluating or judging something based on certain standards or criteria. It can be positive or negative, constructive or destructive, and may involve expressing opinions, suggestions, or feedback.

3. How are emotions and criticism related?

Emotions and criticism are closely intertwined because the way we perceive, interpret, and respond to criticism is largely influenced by our emotional state. For example, if we are feeling defensive or threatened, we may be more likely to reject or ignore criticism, whereas if we are feeling open-minded or motivated, we may be more receptive to it.

4. How are emotions “made”?

Emotions are not innate or pre-programmed but are instead constructed by our brains based on various inputs such as sensory information, memories, beliefs, and social context. The process of emotion-making involves a complex interplay between different brain regions and neurotransmitters that shape our subjective experience of emotions.

5. Can emotions influence how we criticize others?

Absolutely! Our emotional state can impact how we deliver criticism as well as how it is received by the other person. For example, if we are feeling angry or frustrated, we may be more likely to lash out or attack the other person’s character rather than offering constructive feedback.

6. How can we manage our emotions when giving or receiving criticism?

  • Recognize your emotions: Take a moment to acknowledge and label the emotions you are experiencing, such as defensiveness, anger, sadness, or anxiety.
  • Take a pause: If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or reactive, take a moment to breathe deeply or step away from the situation if possible.
  • Foster empathy: Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand their perspective and feelings.
  • Become more self-aware: Reflect on how your emotional state may be impacting your communication style and adjust accordingly.

7. Can emotions be “unlearned”?

While we cannot completely “unlearn” our emotional responses since they are wired into our brains, we can learn to regulate and manage them more effectively over time through techniques such as mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or meditation. These practices can help us become more aware of our emotional triggers and develop healthier ways of responding to criticism and other stressful situations.

keys takeaways

How Emotions Are Made: Criticism

Criticism is a powerful tool that can evoke different emotions depending on how it is presented. Here are 4 key takeaways on how emotions are made when it comes to criticism:

  1. Tone Matters : The tone of criticism can greatly affect how someone receives it. A more positive and constructive approach will lead to less negative emotions than a harsh, critical one.
  2. Perception Influences Response : Our perception of the person giving criticism can also affect our emotional response. If we perceive them as an authority figure or expert, we may be more likely to accept their criticism without much negative emotion.
  3. Praise Helps : Incorporating praise along with criticism can greatly reduce negative emotional response. By acknowledging what someone has done well while suggesting improvement, you create a more positive environment for feedback.
  4. Self-Awareness Is Key : Being aware of your own emotions and reactions to criticism can help prevent unnecessary negativity. By recognizing how you react and why, you can start to control your emotional response in a productive way.

Similar Posts