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5 Ways to Recognize When Constructive Criticism Is Actually Deconstructive

If you’ve ever wondered whether the ‘constructive criticism’ you’re receiving is actually more deconstructive than beneficial, odds are it might be precisely what you suspect!

In this article, we will explore five key ways that you can differentiate between genuinely constructive feedback and anything that’s, well, not.

Have you ever stayed up to the wee hours of the morning working tirelessly on something you love and are birthing into the world whether it is a poem, a recipe, a song or simply a thoughtful perspective that challenges what’s “normal?”

And most importantly, have you ever realized that you’re not actually tired from the lack of sleep, or the grind to manifest your imagination into physicality, or the amount of strength and courage it takes to step into the unknown.

But rather, you realize you’re just tired of judgmental opinions, lackluster responses or passive-aggressive comments disguised as support for you from those around you?

If so, then you’ve come to the right place to learn how to recognize when constructive criticism is deconstructive, and how to protect the sanctity of your creations, along with your sanity!

Sound Familiar? Then Keep Reading

On average, when you share a dream, a vision, or a goal with someone, do any of the below responses sound familiar?

  • “I don’t get it” or “No one will take you seriously”
  • “Stargazer, Bungee Jumper into Feather Piles or Angel Whisperer are not real careers” (This is an example, feel free to dream big here)
  • “You should…(insert anything here)” …The point is they think you should be doing something better or different than what you’ve just presented
  • “It was okayyyyy but it could be wayyyyy better if you… (Insert their projections and insecurities of things they wish they were doing but don’t have the courage, consistency, determination and/or belief in themselves to pursue HERE)

If you answered YES, then it’s time to say NO more!

While reactions from others can come from a place of genuine concern, sometimes they can also come from a concerning place . . . It is imperative to learn how to discern between constructive criticism or something else. Read on to learn how to do precisely that! 🙂

Here Are 5 Tips To Recognize When Constructive Criticism is Deconstructive

Below are five tips to recognize when your critic is not coming from a place of love, but rather at some other place you don’t want to meet them!

1. They Don’t Ask First

Consent is everything. With consent, boundaries are honored, permission is established, and mutual respect is fostered.

Without consent, it may feel like someone is imposing their advice onto you and like they believe (consciously or subconsciously) that their opinions take precedence and authority over your own.

When someone word vomits what they think of that idea without any acknowledgement to do so first, it can feel like they are looking down on you from their invisible pedestal; it can feel like they know what’s best for your life more than you do.

While reactions from others can come from a place of genuine concern, sometimes they can also come from a concerning place.

It creates an unnecessary power dynamic. You may begin to question yourself at every turn, trying to uphold how they see you from that pedestal, instead of remaining grounded, and focused on the most important thing- how you see yourself.

Want to Stop Caring What People Think About You? Focus on These 8 Things Instead

Speaking of yourself, the onus is not completely on the other person to ask to give you constructive criticism. You play a critical role in being transparent about what you need upfront.

For example, if you share the first draft of an essay you might say something like:

“I know this is far from where it needs to be, so for right now I’m looking for grammar and punctuation advice. I’m not looking for any commentary on the storyline or characters just yet. I’ll be back with a second draft for that. Does that work for you?”


2. They Do Not Have Your Best Interest At Heart

We all need people in our lives that challenge how we think. This is why innovation thrives with diversity. This is why opposites attract. This is why balance is represented by yin and yang, black and white. Contrast can be constructive when applied to serve all parties’ best interests.

Without this intention, however, we start to see inequality in the workplace, couples who grow apart because of their differences, and people getting lost in the grey areas of life.

We all need people in our lives that challenge how we think.

Below are a few examples that illustrate someone not having your best intention in mind, but rather their own interest-knowingly or unknowingly:

  • They are providing feedback with the end goal of preserving their belief system because your piece challenges that belief
  • They are providing feedback with ultimatums- such as they will not like, subscribe, or promote your work if you do not comply to changes
  • They are providing feedback out of obligation. We all have that friend or family member that just says, “yes it’s great” but doesn’t really invest their time or true effort

As much as we may not want to hear constructive criticism about ourselves and our work, if it is provided from a heart-centered approach with pure intentions and all parties feel heard, then inevitably we appreciate it.

We can love the people that give us this feedback, while still not liking what they say.

People who give us feedback because they love us and genuinely want the best for us serve as our safety nets. We trust that they give us the information we need to help us fly, but we also trust that they are ready to catch us if we fall.

3. They Do Not Have Emotional Intelligence

There is a reason there is this saying “We are our own worst critics.” We’re so quick to judge ourselves, be embarrassed by that thing we said, or hold on to the one mistake that day instead of focusing on the 20 positive things.

And as tough as it is to admit to ourselves we may not have put our best foot forward, or we ought to work on self-control by not eating a whole box of donuts, there are times when we need someone else to simply hold space and not remind us of what we already know.

In those times where we feel a bit conflicted about confronting our stuff, we’re not looking for someone to roll out the roster containing even more stuff that we could or should be doing.

Are you seeking validation or vulnerability? Are you after compliments or constructive commentary?

What we’re looking for is a hug or a butt slap (with consent of course) that says “You got this babe!” We’re looking for acknowledgment of where we are in our process, even when it’s not perfect. Through their simple presence, we see they are here for us, literally and emotionally.

It isn’t necessarily the sole responsibility of a person to read the signs that you are about to have a meltdown before they comment how you should have gone with the red font instead of black font more than it is your responsibility to tune into your own emotional intelligence.

What’s Your Emotional Intelligence? What EQ Is, How It Differs From IQ, and Why It Matters

Are you seeking validation or vulnerability? Are you after compliments or constructive commentary? Because if the red font really is the best idea, then you would need to be willing to tear up your draft after your tears dry.

4. They Intentionally Stunt Your Growth

The line of helping and hindering can sometimes be blurred.

A story that illustrates this point is as follows: A man was walking and saw a chrysalis where a caterpillar was metamorphosing into a butterfly and was struggling to get out. He took it upon himself to cut the chrysalis open.

However, the butterfly fell to the ground, incapable of using its wings to fly because it didn’t complete its natural evolution process.

One could look at the story as if the man is the hero for trying. For example, maybe that caterpillar would have died in the chrysalis before emerging without his help.

Maybe the caterpillar would have never known it was a butterfly without his help. Maybe the butterfly would grow even bigger, brighter, more beautiful wings than the ones that didn’t work as a result of falling by way of that man’s help.

Or, one could look at the story as if the man was a villain.

Would he have taken credit for the butterfly flying? Was he trying to control something that wasn’t his to control in the first place? Was he intentionally trying to stunt the caterpillar’s growth because he was jealous that he couldn’t fly?

We must ask these same questions of our critics before accepting their criticism.


5. They Project Their Insecurities

Sometimes, people don’t know how to relate to your impending success because it makes them examine their failures. Sometimes you dreaming big highlights that they are playing small.

Sometimes the things that are lighting you up will bring the darkness out of those you thought were in your corner. Sometimes people will not show up for you because somewhere along the way they stopped showing up for themselves.

Sometimes you dreaming big highlights that they are playing small.

Don’t be discouraged when your best friend stops asking how your investor meeting went. Don’t be disheartened when someone condescendingly replies “Well that’s umm interesting, good luck,” after you tell them that you’re an entrepreneur.

Don’t settle for anyone’s idea of “normal” when you were born to stand out.

Ready to Live Your Dream Life? Then Ask Yourself This One Question


Set an Important Boundary By Only Accepting Constructive Feedback

You don’t need to accept anyone’s feedback if it isn’t lighting you up in any way.

If the constructive criticism about your work or your creations does not fan a flame that sets your soul on fire to be better, do better, and want better – but rather it feels like the biggest fire extinguisher pointed your way to ensure your spark never ignites again…

Then toss their opinions into the pits to burn away for good.

You don’t need to take their heat in order to continue blazing baby!

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wonderful comments!

Abbey Acevedo

Abbey Acevedo is a Youtube motivational speaker, audiobook narrator, poet, caffeine junkie, student of life, and lover of all things related to self and soul development. By harnessing her natural superpowers - her voice and words - Abbey is lighting the way for those on their way to the light!

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