3 Simple Steps for When Something that Someone Says Gets Under Your Skin

Today I’d like to explore a common issue readers email me about. An issue that have been quite painful for me too in the past.

This article is about how to handle criticism or verbal attacks.

Or more specifically, what to do when something someone says really gets under your skin and hurts you.

And how to replace destructive thought habits with more positive habits and through that make this a much smaller issue.

Step 1: Let it out.

The first thing I often do after I notice that something did actually get under my skin is to talk it over with someone close to me.

By just letting it out and venting you can release a lot of inner tension and the two of you can find a more helpful and healthier perspective on what has gotten under your skin.

Step 2: Ask yourself: is the person having a bad day or year?

When my self-esteem was lower than it is today then I used to think that pretty much all the negative things people said to me was in some way my fault.

However, that is often not the case. People can verbally attack you or nag or criticize harshly because they may have had an awful day or week. Or simply because they do not like their lives very much at all.

So don’t think this is all about you. There are two of you in this situation.

Step 3: Ask yourself: could there be something here that could help me?

This question is not always fun to ask yourself. And it doesn’t always lead anywhere at all. But after you have calmed down by using the steps above it can be helpful.

Especially if this is the fifth or tenth time you have heard the same thing from people. Then there might be something here you would like to work on.

So at least take a minute or two to think about it.

Bonus-step: Learn how to improve and keep your self-esteem steady.

I have improved my own self-esteem a lot and teaching people to do that for themselves is something that is very close to my heart.

Because I know how it is to have low self-esteem and how limited and unhappy life can become. And I know the difference that having a mental self-esteem toolbox and healthier thought habits makes.

Less stuff gets under your skin for example. It bounces off of you. It does not drag you down and ruin your day or week.

Improving your self-esteem takes time and energy but making the effort is one of the smartest and most happinessboosting things you can do.

Two simple things you can do to start improving your self-esteem this week are:

  • When you stumble, be your own best friend. Instead of beating yourself up, ask yourself: How would my friend/parent support me and help me in this situation? Then do things and talk to yourself like he or she would.
  • Be kind towards the people in your life. Help out. Listen. Give a genuine compliment. Encourage and motivate. The way you treat other people is how they will most often treat you too in the long run. And when you are kinder towards others then you tend to treat and think of yourself in a kinder way too.


Free Exclusive Happiness Tips

Subscribe to The Positivity Newsletter and get weekly tips on happiness, self-esteem and plenty more.

You’ll also get three free guides on how to stop being lazy, what to do when life sucks and 21 things I wish they’d taught me in school.

100% privacy and no spam. You can unsubscribe anytime.

About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • semir

    thanks Henrick for everything you did….and keep going you are the engine.

  • Rose

    Thanks for the helpful tips Henrik. I enjoy reading them. I get upset when certain family members dole out put-downs, usually it seems to me out of jealousy. I try to remember this and feel sorry for them, and I also look at the positive things I have going for me right now, the nice friends who love me, the nature and forest around me, and I try to put the nasty people out of my mind . There’s so much to love and enjoy about the world, so many really kind people and I feel good when I do a kind act for someone else.

  • Hii Henrick..awesum reading u..Infact I also believe in same concept, we must not take things to our skin, nuthing must move us except ourselves and we are that especial to ourselves that we musnt allow anyone to reach to our skin and hurting us unecessarily..

    chitra..started blogging from today

  • Wan T

    Dear Hendrik,
    Great article!

  • I do believe that we attract everything that happens in our lives, including moody people, but how we deal with it is a totally different thing. Of course, it’s always good to see if a person who criticizes you has a point, instead of immediately getting defensive because of a fragile ego. However, it’s always helpful to observe how you feel in response to the other person and just reflect that feeling back. So instead of getting into an argument you could say “I notice some anger/frustration in you” or “You come across very negatively”. This way you direct the attention back to the other person and force them to reflect on how they communicate with you. I always try to maintain presence and awareness, so that I don’t get offended easily and can turn a meaningless discussion into an insightful conversation.

  • I can think of a few people that get under my skin. I will try this.

  • surendra raj subedi

    thank you for your valuable article above.i feel it helping me.

  • Personally speaking I tell myself it is not about me. Knowing myself and being able to objectively see the truth or the lack of it in the others statements helps me come to terms with my emotions.
    Responding rather than reacting helps.