Have you ever come across an unflattering media post about you? Before social media, you could just completely forget that someone existed. Good times. You accidentally found out some so-called friends were talking harshly about you behind your back. Listen, you don’t have haters. They’re just fans in denial. Your boss just read you the riot act – again. Tell your boss what you think of him, and the truth shall set you free – from your job, that is.

But sincerely, how badly does criticism hurt you? How much you personalize disapproval actually reflects how you truly feel about yourself. Take on board the reality that not everyone in this life will like you, let alone love you. Ouch. I know. Hey, you don’t have to like me. I’m not a Facebook status. His condemnation may feel like an assault on your right to even exist. Her negative assessment of you joined forces with the running negative commentary inside of your head.

What do your inner voices say about you? Please reassure yourself that you are not exceptionally weak or defenseless. What are you unhappy about? It could be that as a child or teen you were denied the sort of love you needed. You may have never learned to take your own side in life.

You might have been taught to view life as a race, and all the competitors are ranked from highest to lowest. Which race are you signed up for? Money, appearance, success? How about measuring what a good friend you are, or how kind you can ultimately be? Winning at being the most ruthless at work will surely not serve your mental or emotional health. And you know what they say: Winning is everything. The only ones who remember you when you come in second are your wife and your dog. It’s also been said: The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.

You have ample opportunities to develop your strengths to become a better human. Do you feel permanently anxious or sad? Does it sometimes feel as though nothing you do is good enough? Do not allow self-hate to become your default state.

Not the prettiest, most brilliant, or funniest? Guess what? You are fine just the way you are. Take steps toward greater mental and emotional health by silencing that inner critic. Not everyone deserves the right to even know the “real” you. So let them criticize who they think you are.

Focus on your conscience. How was your mind indoctrinated? Have you picked up some unmerciful habits? You may be haunted by a sense that you are bad or unlovable. Lean on those who can help you change the soundtrack in your head. Hey, my neighbors listen to some excellent music, whether they like it or not. Imagine your cell phone going off full volume at a funeral. And even more awkward: Your ringtone is: “I will survive.”

But truly, please develop a loving attitude toward others. Clearly, we all have the power of reasoning. However, we have a child living within us, as well. When children act badly, we attribute it to some pain or struggle they are having or have been through. When we are confronted with unkind or hurtful behavior from our loved ones, we rarely try to understand or imagine why it may have occurred.

Pause and wonder why she acted the way she did this time. The reason he behaved badly as a grown-up is actually the same as if he was a five-year-old child. Imagine your loved ones as that pure, innocent child. Unkindness is a consequence of having been wounded. Many of us never discover our own wounds. Please take the time and effort to search within for your past traumas or heartbreaks.

Clearly, we do not have to think well of horrible behavior simply because we may envision what drives it. Never leave him the liberty to cause you more pain or suffering. At times, however, exploring the possible causes of her offense or wrongdoing may shift your perspective.

Many unkind traits have their roots in fear. Anger can mask pain. Of course, we still judge bad behavior as bad. But our understanding of why it is occurring can exert influence on how we choose to handle our relationship.

How do you master your own anxiety? Become aware of how you try to compensate for your insecurities. Find those who love you and who understand your mind. Do not allow yourself to be controlled by figures in your past history who may not have had your best interests at heart. Take care of the wounds inside of yourself and others, please.

Breathe calmly and pay attention to yourself, sweet friends. Sure, there is a gap between who you are now and who you may wish to be. You do not have to be a completely different person. Improve your life a bit at a time. Build new habits. Create new routines. Take small actions that are manageable.

Do them at the same place and time until they become a part of your day and new life. Don’t forget to make it enjoyable. Listen to music while you work out. Heck, I’ve been going to the gym for two weeks now, and all I lost were my car keys. But sincerely, be patient. It may take time. There is no magic pill for change. What direction do you want to change in?

Remember: There are four things we cannot recover in this life, sweet friends: Words after they are said. Moments after they are missed. Actions after they are done. Time after it’s gone.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.