A family member always criticises me about how I look and compares me unfavourably with my sibling. This makes me feel really insecure and has badly knocked my confidence. Sometimes what this person says is so hurtful that it makes me cry and then I get told not to be so silly. How I can stop this from getting to me, and how do I stand up for myself?

Criticising people for the way they look is never right. Even though this person is setting out to make you feel bad about yourself, one thing you need to get straight in your head is that you haven’t done anything wrong, because there is nothing wrong with being yourself.

Criticism comes in two forms – constructive and destructive. Though it may sometimes be difficult to take, constructive criticism does have its place, because it allows us to learn and grow as we get feedback on where we went wrong. Destructive criticism, on the other hand, is often said in a thoughtless manner, can be deliberately hurtful and manipulative, and it says more about the critic than anything else. By this I mean that it often reflects the fact that they have unresolved issues and problems, which they then deflect upon the person they are criticising.

Knowing this can be helpful when it comes to dealing with overly critical people, because it gives you the option to become detached from their comments. If you reframe what they say as a comment upon themselves as a person, then you can begin to strengthen your emotional and psychological defences.

Remember, negative criticism from others is like a wall, believe it and focus on it, and it will block your path towards success. So reframe it and make the focus yourself.

Ask yourself what your talents are. What are your dreams for the future and how will you achieve them and be happy? That’s all that matters. So next time you come up against this ‘wall’, rise above it and if you feel confident enough, gently tell the critic that even though what they say is hurtful, you are not going to let such hurtful things distract you from what’s really important.