Criticism is tough for even the most hardened achievers. Some try to avoid it. Others counter criticize. However you handle it, it's likely you'll feel the sting of a criticism long after the conversation has ended.
As much as we'd love to avoid being criticized, for some there's no way around it. Big goals require you to put yourself out there and risk rejection.
No matter how charming others find you, chances are at some point you'll come face to face with a critic, troll, or someone who just doesn't get you.
When that time comes, here are some things to remember:
#1 You're Right To Fear Criticism
Being criticized is likely to cause an emotional reaction because, well, you're human. No matter how you react on the outside, you're going to feel angry, rejected, or even defeated afterward.
We all want to be able to accept constructive feedback graciously, but hearing how you've come up short is going to feel uncomfortable. Our minds don't like that discomfort and it translates as fear.
The fear of rejection originated in clan times when our survival was dependent upon our ability to fit in. In a clan you were safer from predators and had access to food and shelter even if you're skills weren't top notch. However, if you were rejected, you were out of the clan and your chances of survival were drastically reduced. That same fear response is activated when you get any kind of negative feedback.
While criticism is no longer a severe threat to our survival, a low social status does still limit our ability to gain resources like promotions, a desirable partner, and expanded income. So this fear is based on fact.
#2 Criticism Is Inevitable
To add to that, being an entrepreneur, having a web presence or even a Facebook profile opens you up to criticism. That’s just a natural part of being social.
No matter how much good you want to do, there will always be those people who want to drag you down. Sometimes to make themselves better. Sometimes to attack the competition. And sometimes out of sheer boredom.
They might criticize your actions, the way you dress, your opinions, or even character features that are totally beyond your control.
It’s inevitable. You will have critics no matter how awesome you are and no amount of charm can make everyone like you.
The kicker is, we do it too. Hasn't someone ever gotten under your skin before? You didn’t know them. You had no idea why you were so critical of them. You just didn’t like them.
It's a harsh reality, but once you accept that you’re not going to be into everyone. And not everyone will be into you, you're free to show up for the people who are looking for exactly what you’ve got.
#3 People Pleasing Doesn't Work
People’s opinion of you has nothing to do with who you really are. It has everything to do with themselves and how they see the world. Their issues and prejudices are their filter.
Over 80% of people that are critical towards others are reportedly depressed and neurotically self-critical. There may be nothing wrong with you at all. Your critic might just be demanding too much from you because they’re unhappy with themselves.
A critique is really an expectation of more. It's up to you to ensure that kind of expectation fits into your life before accepting responsibility.
If you went through life trying to please every person, you’d wind up an inauthentic version of yourself. You’d be forced to totally dilute or change who you are. And being exactly who you are is how you add the most value to this world.
#4 Their Opinions Are None Of Your Business
In the end, other people’s opinions of us are none of our business. Unless it’s costing you opportunities, there’s no real reason to care. The consequences are limited to disappointing that one critical person.
Negativity is more inclined to hurt the sender rather than the recipient. And in the end, they're only viewing a small facet of your performance before making a judgement. So it's more likely that what they see is a projection of their own low self-worth.
They might have directed the criticism towards you, but that doesn’t mean it belongs to you.
Their issue. Their business. No need to take that on yourself.
Now, consider the type of person that makes the criticism you’ve received. Is it someone who’s opinion you respect? Are they themselves successfully accomplishing the very thing they’re criticizing you for?
Ultimately, if someone finds you lacking and expresses it disrespectfully, is that really the person who’s judgement you want to trust?
#5 It Only Hurts If You Let It
We can only be hurt by a critique, if what was said resonates with a part of us that believes it’s true. If we didn’t think it was true, we wouldn’t care. We pay attention because to some extent there’s some self-doubt within us.
That’s when it becomes vital to do an honest self-assessment. Maybe a criticism has some truth that you could use to help yourself grow.
Sometimes our reaction is more emotional than logic. What really hurts about criticism isn’t that we’re not the best, it’s what we think it means. How affected you are by words is wholly determined by the meaning you attach to them.
So what does criticism mean to you? Does it mean you’re not good enough? Does it mean people don’t like you? Or does it mean that one out of 100 people don’t get you?
You have the power to decide what meaning it holds to you.
People are going to talk, especially if you stand out. Because being an entrepreneur or following a larger purpose, living a bold life does make you a target for criticism. And the people who feel the most powerless, will talk about you the most.
To quote Madea: “It ain’t about what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
You can go around trying to control the world's opinions of you, begging for their approval. But how much time and energy do you have to give that?
You have better things to do than open small minds that are deadset on staying shut. And if they ever are going to open, it won’t be because you chased them down for their approval. It'll be because you showed up unapologetically to the point that they could no longer deny how awesome you truly are.
So the next time you’re faced with a critic, ask yourself these questions:
Does this person know what they’re talking about?
Is what they’re saying truth that will help me grow?
Or are they just criticizing to feel better about themselves?
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