If there were a “Most Popular” category for questions I’ve received from my clients, today’s topic would with out a doubt be at the top of the list.
Here is a recent comment from one of my super star clients about how she is being criticized:
I have been accused of being obsessed a lot lately and it was starting to get to me. I am so not skinny. Thinner than I was 11 months ago, but far from skinny.
And skinny is not my goal. A healthy body is my goal.
My fitness is my personal journey so I don’t really talk about it except with you guys because I love y’all. But when folks notice the change in my body, they ask me how I did it.
Sadly, many times that I share my healthy eating, calorie watching, water drinking, workouts with them…they think it’s too much. Therefore, I’m obsessed.
Wow. Right? Here she is doing something to better herself. People are asking her how she does it. And yet she’s being criticized for it.
In order to better learn how to manage criticism, let’s first break it down and gain some understanding about what it really is.
The dictionary definition is the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.
The key word that jumps off the page at me is perceived. Perception is an opinion formed from information gathered by the 5 senses.
Let’s Be Honest
If we were all really honest about it, criticism doesn’t just come from other people. It often begins in our own head. Our MAIN and most harsh critic resides within. And when we believe our self-criticism, it holds us back.
For instance, I have put off blogging for about a year, maybe even longer.
One of the main reasons is because of the criticism that was taking place between my ears. I allowed the fear of what others might think to keep me from sharing something that could potentially make a difference in someone else’s life.
I know that sharing my thoughts makes me vulnerable and opens me to criticism. In order for me to move past these feelings, I had to really evaluate why I wanted to blog in the first place.
I want to share my life experiences, trials and triumphs so that I might give hope and encouragement to others who face similar situations. Ultimately I’d like to think that my story could make an impact on other people.
Understanding and reaffirming this gave me clarity to proceed and move past the fear of being criticized.
One of my fave bloggers, James Clear, shares this wisdom about putting yourself out there, “You can either be judged because you created something or ignored because you left your greatness inside of you.”
It’s really easy for someone sitting on the sidelines to criticize you for what you are putting out there.
Have you ever noticed that most of the criticism comes from people who aren’t creating anything? People who are creating are far too busy doing things and don’t have time to do much else.
So why let the opinions of those people keep you from sharing your greatness? What’s worse is that most of it is what you perceive their opinions to be–most times people care much less than you really think.
Just as Sir Isaac Newton discovered the Law of Gravity, so have I discovered the Law of Criticism. In my best technical explanation it goes like this, “At a point when a person is using their life and experience to benefit others, judgement and criticism will closely follow.”
It’s just how the cookie crumbles. This Teddy Roosevelt quote adds some validation.
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, who comes short again and again, becuase there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worse, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
So the question now shifts–it’s not a matter of wondering if you will be criticized, it’s a matter of how you choose to deal with it?
4 Ways to Manage Criticism
- Be certain that you’re not a participant in the “criticism game”–use it sparingly. You know the work and effort that goes into creating great things. So don’t be hyper-critical of others, or yourself for that matter.
- Allow Criticism to give you perspective: “Am I still doing what I set out to do?”, “What are my intentions?”, “Do I need to be more clear?”
- Don’t give power to those who don’t matter and allow their criticism to hold you back. One of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes says, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” There are people who NEED you.
- Make the choices that are right for you and keep in mind that most criticism is irrelevant. Always consider the source.
You can’t please everyone and you definitely shouldn’t waste your time trying. Stay focused and don’t be distracted.