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Women's Health

How to Silence Your Critics

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THE CHANGE-AVERSE CRITIC continued...

With this type of critic, there are usually two underlying issues at play — fear and a need for control. "They're afraid of the unknown and of not being in charge of their surroundings, so they end up projecting those fears onto everybody else," explains Tessina. Your idea might also make this critic realize her life isn't all she wants it to be, so she tries to hold you back along with her.

Before you launch a defense, however, consider that she may actually be onto something. Maybe eBay is already saturated with the same reversible handbags you want to sell through your online boutique. Perhaps a person's personality does change (and not always for the better) after overhauling their look on impulse.

That's not to say that you need to give up your plans. "People make the mistake of thinking that criticism means their intention or goal was probably wrong or half-baked all along, and that they're obligated to stay in the status quo," says Robert Leahy, Ph.D., director of The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy in New York City and author of The Worry Cure. "But those who are willing to tolerate some ambivalence and criticism tend to be better decision makers overall. Collecting information, weighing the pros and cons, and fine-tuning your plans are signs of thoughtfulness and maturity."

Besides, if everyone thought your idea was good or easy, there wouldn't be any risk involved — or glory either, says Leahy. You might even want to thank this person for her input. Her negativity has helped you take ownership of your tenacity and willingness to explore new horizons. Come to think of it, Leahy adds, "this critic is basically telling you that she doesn't have the guts to do it herself." How's that for an ego boost?

THE NAY-SAYING CRITIC

Six years ago, having had enough of dead-end jobs, Laura Elizabeth decided to follow her dream of being a writer. She began applying to writing programs at several top universities — even though she didn't think she had the credentials to get in. "I wanted to apply to an Ivy League school," says the 31-year-old from Houston. "One of my colleagues, who knew how much I wanted this, said, 'I wouldn't waste the paper.' Where was her diplomacy? What a way to kill my spirit."

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