Why Do I Cry When Someone Criticizes Me(5 reasons)

This article will look at how people can respond to criticism and why, in the case that they respond by crying, do they do so. The article will also touch upon how they individual can react in a manner that is beneficial not only for the situation but also for themselves!

Why Do I Cry When Someone Criticizes Me?

Here are a few reasons why you may break up into tears at the slightest hint of criticism:

  • Low Self Esteem
  • Traumatic Past
  • Sensitive Nature
  • Not Meeting Their Expectations

Let us take a look at these reasons in a bit! We will first look at how people react when they are criticized.

The 4 Ways To React To Criticism

In this section we will be looking at the four distinct ways in which people react to criticism!

Level 1 – Emotionally Charged Reaction

In this level, the individual who is criticized reacts openly to the attacker because of their strong emotional sensitivity. They will either resort to breaking down into tears and weep profusely, become so angry that they physically attack the other person or damage property around them. This is because they cannot control their emotions and must express them in some way or the other. 

Level 2 – Low Level Reaction

In this level, the individual does react by at a level way lower than the previous level that was described. The purpose of the behaviour here is to show one’s displeasure immediately but in a more acceptable manner. The individual who has been criticized may glare at the attacker, throw insults at them, kick objects around without permanently damaging anything or anyone or they themself begin criticizing the person who criticized them first!

Level 3 – Passive Aggressive Response

In this level, the person who has been attacked verbally will resort to a more acceptable way of reacting however, they are still not adopting a positive or beneficial manner of reacting and will hence not solve the problem but only avoid it. This level involves reactions such as giving the other person the silent treatment, talking in a loud or aggressive tone or adopting a body language that totally ignores or disregards the other person.

Level 4 – The Right Way

Here, the person who has been attacked responds in a mature manner where they try to understand the other person’s viewpoint or anger and hence try to calm the situation down instead of igniting it further by reacting as well. They take any suggestions that come their way and by adopting an accepting or open attitude the other person may become more mature in their approach of expressing how they feel or think. This is the most productive way of responding to criticism.

Why Do I Cry When Someone Criticizes Me?

In this section, we will look at the reasons why an individual may break into tears or weep profusely when they are criticized!

Low Self Esteem

One of the reasons why someone may be so sensitive to criticism is because they are already suffering from extremely low self esteem. How they think or view their own selves is already enough to break them down – the criticism someone throws at them is just the trigger that causes them to break apart into tears. 

Low self esteem is something real that affects how a person thinks or feels about their own self. It makes them feel lesser than they actually are and they do not realize their true potential. It is this time when they need support from others to help them realize who they truly are and why they should believe in themself. However, when they receive criticism from others, that criticism is just a validation of their thoughts that were already pointing in the direction the criticism pointed to.

Hence, if someone breaks into tears easily at the slightest hint of criticism, it is possible they are suffering from extremely low self control.

Traumatic Past

Another reason why someone may start crying profusely when exposed to the slightest ounce of criticism is because they have had a traumatic past where they have experienced constant criticism from someone who played a big role in their life or had sufficient influence over them. These ‘individuals’ leave an impact on the person because of how the person viewed them; they may have considered them close or important or prescribed a relationship to them of great importance. Nevertheless, that individual took it upon themself to criticize the person whenever they felt like it either because they had issues themselves or used it as a tool to manipulate the other person.

The results of such a relation are long lasting; these effects can last an entire lifetime where the person is constantly reminded of who they actually are and how nothing or anyone can change that truth. It is like an engraved writing in their mind which cannot be erased. Hence, when someone uses the same words that a past abuser used, it hurls the individual into their past and exposes their wounds. This is why they break into tears because their mind and body feel as if they are in the past where the criticism was actually ‘justified’.

Sensitive Nature

Some people are indeed sensitive. Their limbic system is way more active and sensitive to that of others hence their thinking brain kicks in later and they take the other person’s words to heart without scrutinizing them. Hence they automatically accept what the other person has said and feel bad, so breaking into tears and crying miserably.

Not Meeting Their Expectations

One of the reasons why someone may start tearing up because of what someone said to them is because that someone actually means a lot to them and they feel horrible for disappointing them.

This is more because of the relationship that exists between two people rather than the nature of any one of the two people involved. Neither of them needs to be either aggressive or too sensitive. However, if the relation is strong enough then given the right circumstances where one is upset and expresses it a bit too harsh, then the other will automatically feel bad to the extent that they may break apart emotionally and hence weep.

They may actually agree with what has been said about them and feel too bad because of which they begin to cry! Therefore, this is another reason why someone you see may tear up easily!

How To React To Criticism?

Here are some tips to react to criticism when faced with a situation where you are vulnerable and may not be able to keep your cool. Keeping these tips in mind can help you regain control of not only yourself but the situation as well!

  • Stay Calm: Don’t react immediately because it will only make the situation worse and possibly anger the other person even more. The best thing you can do is stay calm.
  • Don’t Let The Words Affect You: Try and stay neutral. You need to be open to what the other person is saying but at the same time remember that whatever they say is not necessarily a reflection of you or your personality.
  • Listen: Once in control of your emotions, try and listen to what the other person is actually trying to say to you. Maybe they are reacting because they need your support.
  • Decide: Try and see if you agree or disagree with what the person is saying. If you think they are not making sense, ask them to provide examples or proof.
  • Accept: If they claim something which is true then you need to accept that and tell them you accept it.
  • Act: Now is the time to act and help improve the situation. If there is anything to clarify then do that and if there is anything you need to accept and apologize for then do that!


This article provided an in-depth understanding of the topic under question which is why someone starts to cry when they are criticized. It looked at the different ways someone could react to being criticized which involved four levels of reaction. The article also explained the deep rooted reasons behind why people cry when they are criticized and linked it to their personality or past experiences or their relationship to the criticizer. Furthermore, the article explained the best ways to react to criticism.


Why Highly Sensitive People Sometimes React So Strongly to Criticism

Responding to Criticism by Crying: Is it a Sign of Immaturity?

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