Q: Someone could tell me 99 positive things about me and one negative, and I will dwell on that one thing. Why do I do this?
We humans are really good at dwelling on stuff that makes us feel bad. This negativity bias was helpful to our ancestors when survival depended on avoiding distress, danger, and discomfort. It helps explain why criticism stings so much and why a negative comment eclipses anything positive. Just because we are hardwired to be sensitive doesn’t mean that we must take everything so personally.
One of the best strategies to defang the sting of criticism is to dissect it. Recognize that the negative comment is about something specific and not an indictment of you as a human being. If your manager thought your presentation wasn’t good enough, it does not mean that you are not enough. You are not your presentation. When you separate the comment from yourself, you gain perspective and will be more open to hearing what the other person has to say.
Dr. Samantha Boardman is a clinical instructor in psychiatry and an assistant attending psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and the founder of positiveprescription.com.
This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Marie Claire.
MORE FROM SAMANTHA BOARDMAN
Marie Claire Newsletter
Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
Rihanna's Son Own 2023's "It" Shoe—Because, Duh, He's Rihanna's Son
He's only a year old and already a better dresser than me.
By Jewel Elizabeth
Nearly Four Years After Leaving the U.K., Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Are “Embarking On a Total System Reboot”
“They are all about the future.”
By Rachel Burchfield
Straight Shooter Dolly Parton Says She Refuses to Text Because “I Don’t Want to Have to Answer”
“I don’t want to talk to everybody that wants to talk to me.”
By Rachel Burchfield
Senator Klobuchar: "Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine"
Senator and breast cancer survivor Amy Klobuchar is encouraging women not to put off preventative care any longer.
By Senator Amy Klobuchar
How Being a Plus-Size Nude Model Made Me Finally Love My Body
I'm plus size, but after I decided to pose nude for photos, I suddenly felt more body positive.
By Kelly Burch
I'm an Egg Donor. Why Was It So Difficult for Me to Tell People That?
Much like abortion, surrogacy, and IVF, becoming an egg donor was a reproductive choice that felt unfit for society’s standards of womanhood.
By Lauryn Chamberlain
The 20 Best Probiotics to Keep Your Gut in Check
Gut health = wealth.
By Julia Marzovilla
Simone Biles Is Out of the Team Final at the Tokyo Olympics
She withdrew from the event due to a medical issue, according to USA Gymnastics.
By Rachel Epstein
The Truth About Thigh Gaps
We're going to need you to stop right there.
By Kenny Thapoung
3 Women On What It’s Like Living With An “Invisible” Condition
Despite having no outward signs, they can be brutal on the body and the mind. Here’s how each woman deals with having illnesses others often don’t understand.
By Emily Shiffer
The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain
Three women open up about how their conditions impact their bodies—and their wallets.
By Alice Oglethorpe