Everyone’s a Critic

My mother has her PhD in criticism. Nothing has ever been enough and she is never pleased with anything. She believes that she motivates people by pointing out how they could be better.

Some days it feels as if everyone is my mother! They all want to tell me how to live my life. Not just family members but, the neighbors, some guy on the street, even billboards and commercials want to tell you how you should eat or what you should wear. It can almost be overwhelming all the people who want to tell us how to live and who we should be or become.

Then there are those who are just critical of everything you do. If you start exercising they feel the need to ‘help’ you by pointing out how you need to do more. ‘They’ want to tell you how you could run your business better. Naturally, ‘they’ have all the answers on how to improve you.

Here are some ways I have learned to deal with criticism. I hope they will help you:

1. What Can I Learn from Criticism? Most criticism is probably based, at least in part, on some truths. Through criticism we have the opportunity to learn and improve from their suggestions.

2. Don’t take it personally (If you can master this one, number 1 become much more easy) This is my biggest problem with regard to criticism. However, I try to remember that if my spouse criticize my  cooking,  it is a mistake to identify ourselves with an apple pie. Somebody may find good reasons why our cooking is bad; but, this does not mean they are criticizing us as a person. Respond to the suggestions not the tone of the criticism. I find that if I can take time to stop being upset BEFORE I respond (see number 5), I can more clearly see the value of the criticism and not just my hurt feelings. People may make valuable critical suggestions that we miss because we are too busy being hurt.

3. Value criticism As a society, quite often, we only value praise. When people speak kind words we feel happy. When people criticize we feel miserable. However, if we only received insincere praise and false flattery, how would we ever make progress? If we wish to improve and develop we should invite constructive criticism and appreciate their suggestions.

4. Ignore False Criticism Sometimes we are criticized with no justification. This is a painful experience. One option is to remain aloof and ignore it completely. We should feel that false criticism is as insignificant as an ant trying to harm an elephant. If we remain silent and detached the criticism is given no energy. If we feel the necessity of fighting it – in a way, we give it more importance than it deserves. By remaining silent we maintain a dignity that others will come to respect.

5. Don’t Respond Immediately There is a saying that time heals all wounds, and the wound of criticism is no different. It is best to wait a little before responding. If we respond with feelings of anger or injured pride we will soon regret it. I will admit this is a hard one for me but if I wait patiently it can enable me to reflect in a calmer way.

6. Smile Smiling, even a false smile, can helps us to relax more. It creates a more positive vibration and smooths the situation. It will definitely help psychologically. Smiling will motivate the other person to moderate their approach.

Criticism is a part of life. The important part is to learn to accept it’s value and not let it stop your forward progress.  Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President (1901-09), 1858-1919 said:  “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”



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Can you Catch your Dream?

Dream Catcher Lore:

Native American Dreamcatcher

Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams both good and bad. The dream catcher when hung over or near your bed swinging freely in the air, catches the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams know how to pass through the dream catcher, slipping through the outer holes and slide down the soft feathers so gently that many times the sleeper does not know that he/she is dreaming. The bad dreams not knowing the way get tangled in the dream catcher and perish with the first light of the new day. (per http://www.dream-catchers.org/)

In your waking moments you catch your dream by chasing after it. Dreams never come true just by dreaming them. You must begin following your dream. Put in the work to stay on the path. Then you can realize the achievement of your goal.



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Inspiration in Pop Culture?

I saw a reference to a video float by on twitter the other day. I was intrigued, so I clicked to watch. As the video began, I though ‘this is a waste of time’ (I’m not a pop culture follower) but soon realized that the message I have been sharing is here in this video.

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How to Stop the Voices

“You’ll never be good at math.”

“You would find a guy if you just wore makeup.”

“You’ll never make friends if you don’t lose weight.”

“Only stupid/lazy/boring/(fill in the blank) people do that.”

Sentences like these might sound familiar to you.  They are often said in one form or another by often well meaning parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors.  All they end up doing is becoming the voices you hear that keep you from following your dreams and reaching your goals.

Why do we listen to this external validation?  Mostly because it usually comes from someone we love and respect, so they can’t be wrong.  (This is not true, in this instance at least, they are wrong.)  Also the need for external validation is strong, we care what people think about us.

There are things you can do to break free for the negative validation that is holding you back.

1.)  Learn to recognize when your mind is replaying negative comments and stop them.  Think of something positive that you have accomplished.  You can train your mind to stop replaying that negativity and turn it in to something positive.

2.)  Meditation can be a great way to introduce positive internal validation to your brain.  Repeating positive uplifting statements will cement them in your thinking and you will start to realize that anything is possible.

3.)  Surround yourself with people that are great encouragers, not discouragers.   Having cheerleaders that believe in you will go a long way to erasing the negativity of others.

By turning off the negative comments made by others and believing that you are fully capable of reaching your goals, no matter what they might be, you will find that it is easier to stick to your plan and even exceed your greatest expectations.

“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” -Unknown

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Simple does not mean Easy

When I first began Stay on Target Coach’s blog someone retweeted my post with these words attached ‘simple but good advice’. Immediately, I began to question my methods. Was I making things too simple?  Should this be more complicated or should I be writing on a higher intellectual level? The person who made the comment was not someone I know. It was not someone I go to for advice or inspiration. Yet, I questioned what I was doing based on this simple comment. No doubt, I spent far more time assessing and analyzing her comment than she spent in making the comment.

Yes, my blog post are frequently common sense and simple tips for living your life. I was sitting in Church on Sunday and the minister said, “It really is that simple. I wish I could tell you this was complicated but it is simple.” I want to reiterate this statement. I wish I could tell you a complicated formula for being positive, but these are simple principals. The application of the principals takes the time, effort and constant vigilance.

Many years ago, I took a class in Homiletics. I cannot tell you much I learned in the class except there was one statement, which stuck with me. It was that a homily should be at an eighth grade level so that everyone could understand the message. I was young and brash; therefore, I argued that by ‘dumbing down’ we were not raising the education level of our audience. My kindly old professor quickly reminded me that my job was not to inspire my audience to higher education but to inspire them to a better life.

The simplicity of the message does nothing to diminish the power of the message. The path to your goal is simple, staying on the path is the difficulty.

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How Many Oysters Can You Eat?

I am sitting in the doctor’s waiting room watching “Man vs. Food” on the Travel channel.  The host of the show is attempting to eat 15 dozen oysters in under an hour.  That’s 180 oysters for those of you that are mathmatically challenged.  I started out being repulsed by the massive amount of slimy food, but that quickly turned to fascination.  Can he do it?  Will he meet his goal?  Even though it isn’t a challenge that I would undertake, I understand the urge to do something out of the ordinary.  Something that hasn’t been accomplished by many people.  According to the show, only 10% of those that attempt this particular challenge complete it.

As the show progressed, the other restaurant patrons were cheering and clapping, getting more excited with each oyster.  Their excitement was catching, I cheered along, hoping he could meet his challange, even though it kind of grossed me out.

It made me even more aware of the fact that surrounding yourself with the right people is very important as you are striving toward your goals.  If your friends and family aren’t behind you, realizing your dreams becomes that much more difficult.  They might even sabotage your efforts.  But, if they are supportive and encouraging, you will find things are easier.  They don’t even have to really understand why you chose the goal you did.  They might even find it gross, but the right people, true friends, will support you no matter what.

In order to realize your goals you might even have to make some hard choices.  If your friends aren’t understanding when you choose not to drink or not to join them in dessert and they tease you or try and tempt you away from your goal, they might not be the people you want to spend a lot of your time with.  It’s possible you will have to choose not to hang out with them as much, or at all.  A committment to your goal can mean finding new people to spend time with.  You will know your real friends by their support no matter what.

Just so you know, the big eater completed his goal, he ate all 180 oysters.  And the crowd was behind him all the way.  Work at finding those people that will cheer for you and you will be one step closer to eating your mountain of food.
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