What is criticism, really? As usual, I will refer you to the etymology of the word. The word's intended use was for qualified individuals of merit, who practice the art of criticism, in order to judge the merits or the faults of a work, individual, etc. But what has the word "criticism" been reduced to, today? And more importantly, how much weight should be given to this word? If "to accept criticism gracefully" means that I am supposed to sit there and put up with a person's stupidity, then I doubt such persons should be using the word to describe their actions, at all.
We are all good for criticising our own selves, right? But something is wrong when we think that we have authority over another enough to criticise them. Then we are delusional if we think that our criticism is worth anything at all. Unless it is worth something. Unless there is a relationship of trust that has been established, or unless we have undisputed authority on the matter.
I have seen and experienced enough in life to know that there are so many motives and actions that hide behind the guise of "criticism." And why do they hide behind this guise? That is simple. They do so because there is a social norm that people have come to accept and that is the phrase. "accept criticism gracefully." It's become the equivalent of, "don't judge people by the colour of their skin." It's a big thing. But what is it, really? What about the person making the critiques? Who made their analysis and understanding worthy enough to be listened to? If you are going to come around and say that my shoes should not be pink, am I supposed to change my shoes because this is what you think? Or am I supposed to tell you that you don't know anything about shoes? Unless you do know something about shoes. Unless you are in fact Christian Louboutin or Jimmy Choo.
When one voices one's mind from a state of anger, hurt, other so and so emotions, this is not called "criticism" but this is called "anger" and often it can be called "accusations." And I have observed and known enough about people to know that they will push their boundaries into your own, as far as you will let them! Especially if they sense that you have a desire to make other people happy or to please others. They will never stop. They go on and on and on until you say stop. Do the meek really inherit the Earth? Or should we be serpents with hearts of doves?
The strange thing is that those who criticise do not wish to be criticised, themselves. That is because it is really not "criticism" as pertained by the art of criticism which is earned by merit and prowess in one's field of skill. It is just called "saying whatever I want because what I want to say and how I feel is important and you should care about it." That cannot be described as criticism. That can only be described as not having grown up.
Come to think of it, I have actually never in my life said anything to the likings of, "I am just criticising you" or, "why can't you take my criticism gracefully?" or anything at all to imply that, "I am only criticising you, and you should listen to my criticisms." No. Never. I have never even described myself as a critic of others, in any fashion, at all. I am my own biggest critic, and that is the only time when I have used the word to describe myself or what I am doing. Perhaps I am in fact very grown up (in a good way.)