The 6 Greatest Life Hacks for Handling Criticism

Let's face it -- whether we're talking about complex creative endeavors or really basic stuff like breathing and pooping, most of us have basically no idea what we're doing. We all wander in a dark, collective abyss that can be home to no man or beast, with only our insecurities to keep us company.

And we pass the time by criticizing the hell out of each other.

To be human is to be constantly evaluated by other humans, and not all of us are happy to do it quietly. Still, just because our lives are full of rampant judgment delivered with all the subtlety of a subpoena wrapped around a hatchet does not mean we can't learn to deal with it efficiently. Here's what you need to do if someone swoops in criticizing your lovingly crafted fan fiction:

#6. Do Not Reply Straight Away

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Look, it's entirely your business what you were criticized about. Maybe someone sent you a hate-filled rant nitpicking some perceived mistake in your work. Maybe it's about that box of priceless crystal skulls you were juggling, followed by the inevitable loud crash and a long, ominous silence. Maybe it's just your general inadequacy as a human being, or a lover, or a law-abiding citizen. I'm not here to judge.

Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
Mark is here to judge. Fuckin' Mark.

Let's assume that the unwarranted criticism comes in the shape of an angry message or email, because come on -- it's the Internet age, of course it does.

When you're slapped in the face by the smelly trout of criticism, your knee-jerk reaction is to reply right away, possibly by hunting down the jerk that dared affront you and introducing their face to your knee. It is important to resist this temptation.

What, where did you think the term comes from?

At this point, replying is the absolute stupidest move you can possibly make. There are precious few things in life that can't be ruined to a magnificent degree with an ululating phone call or a hasty "Oh, you think I suck on a professional level? That is curiously similar to what I told your mom last night" reply to the unpleasant email from the boss. The important thing is to remember these simple things:

First, step away from the keyboard. Seriously, back the fuck down. Right now, there's nothing you can do with that thing that will not get your ass in trouble. Wait at least an hour before replying, it'll give your brain time to sand the edges off your rage. To take your mind off the topic for an hour or so, maybe pop on over to the nearest sports store and idly pick up some random items. A ski mask, for example. I mean, obviously that's just one off the top of my head, but yeah, pick it up. Shopping can be very therapeutic; it'll soothe you.

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Go to a spa. Or, just repeatedly say the word "spa."

If at all possible, reply with a phone call instead of emailing back. It's noticeably easier to keep your calm when you're actually talking with a fellow human being. If you think you're still too pissed off for that, you can try typing up the angriest reply you can possibly muster from the bile of your hate-filled system -- just do it on a notepad or something, so you can refrain from actually sending it. This should help you clear your head and assess the situation calmly.

It didn't? Shit. I was afraid that might happen. Still, before you click "send," at least take some time to ...

#5. Determine the Type of Criticism

Before you start dealing with criticism, it's important to determine the specifics of the critique in question. Is it constructive or mean-spirited? Valid or unjustified? This may be the key to decrypting the sensitive situation you're facing, and a viable option to your first instinct of using your life savings to purchase a military drone and rain hellfire upon your critic's house. While most criticism may appear vile in nature, it's not always a personal attack: More often than not, the critic ...

Diane White Rosier/
... who, for the purposes of this analogy, we'll call Jerk McDumbface ...

... is merely attempting to create positive discussion about the possible flaws in your work and/or actions. Even if their phrasing seems overly harsh, it's not necessarily meant as an attack: Maybe they have chosen an intentionally confrontational style to draw your attention, or maybe they are tragically unable to form neutral sentences because of their stupid, stupid caveman face.

Give them a chance, even though it may seem like they are not giving you any -- after all, there can be any number of reasons for the oral diarrhea they're passing off as well-constructed argumentation.

If they criticized you by computer, assume they're blind and hit keys randomly.

To recap: Always remember that there is a very good chance the critic is not trying to hurt your feelings, but instead acts out of genuine desire to correct a perceived error in your actions. Your actions are correct, remember, so really the fault lies in the critic's inability to perceive things correctly. You're right.

Hey. You're right.

#4. Acquire an Unmarked Vehicle

Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

Still hung up on the criticism? Put your energy to good use and do something productive! The process of buying a car suitable for the next step may seem simple -- determine budget, select vendor and vehicle, negotiate payment, drive away. However, there is an art to it. Luckily, you're not alone in your struggle: With a simple click, you can access many informative, trustworthy guides for buying and owning cars. Just follow their advice and you'll accomplish your car quest with barely any prison time at all.

Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images
"Barely" being the operative word here.

When going for inconspicuousness, the absolute worst mistake you can make is getting a new car. Fresh-off-the-factory vehicles bleed their value away faster than you can say "real rear wheels and tire irons" three times fast, and also there's a ton of paperwork that will help the authorities trace the car back to you if things go awry.

What you need is a sturdy, old, unmarked car with some miles behind it and, preferably, a large trunk. No vans, mind you. Literally every secondhand van on the market is either battered enough to scream "serial killer" to every passing cop, or actually filled with the screaming ghosts of the victims of the actual serial killer who used to own it. There is no such thing as an inconspicuous van; your only worse bet would be to get a car with tinted windows.

Jon Gorr/
Though it is a sad testament to our day and age that Driving Naked Glasses are illegal in so many states.

To keep your profile as low as possible, you should buy the car from the used-car vendor with the most horrifying, color-clashing polyester suit in the entire state. That person is the least likely to put an emphasis on stuff like unwarranted paper trail, and also probably the most willing to haggle the price.

Speaking of the price, negotiating it is the perfect time to practice your ...

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