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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