"No one ever kicks a dead dog" -- Dale Carnegie
There are two types of critics. One comes from a place of love, another from a place of fear or envy. To receive positive criticism is one thing, but to suffer negative criticism is another. To be criticized with negative intention means that you have aroused something within someone else such as jealousy or a feeling of inadequacy. In order for the critic to feel better and elevated somehow, they need to put other people down. When someone condemns our work, comments unkindly on our appearance, judges our parenting style or disapproves of any of our actions, it is a pure and total reflection of them, not us. Take relief and comfort that a critic's words actually have nothing to do with you at all.
Here are six reasons to welcome critics in your life:
1. It means you are doing something
In order to be criticized, it means you are taking action in some form. Aristotle said, "The only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, do nothing and be nothing." People who are making things happen in the world and actually doing or standing for something are the only ones who are criticized.
2. It can make you better
When criticism is positively-fueled and constructive, we can improve, learn and grow. I love hearing thoughtful and useful feedback about my writing and coaching style. I take it all on board and use what works for me. Constructive criticism can express a great form of people's love for you. It can give you great insight and direction if your heart is open and the energy behind the feedback is well-meaning, considered and kind.
3. The person shows you who they really are
Anais Nin wisely said, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Negatively-fueled critics therefore show us who they really are -- often unfulfilled people who are therefore naturally unsupportive of your success. The way they react to what you are doing is a reflection of how they feel about their own lives. You can make a judgment call early on at how exposed you want to be to these people in your life.
4. Critics reassure that us we are on the right track
The further you get in your life, the more critics you can expect. It means that people are paying attention to you. Steven Pressfield said that criticism is what you really want as a creative person, he calls it "the supreme compliment." A public figure once told me that the more critics she gets, the more popular she knows she is becoming. What a great way to look at it!
5. You prove worthy of other people's energy
When a critic, in person or online or whatever form they take, makes the effort to write or comment about you, it means you are affecting people somehow. They are using their time and attention to talk about you. You are not being ignored. Funnily enough, being the subject of someone's criticism is a flattering thing.
6. It teaches you about yourself
I was so sensitive when I first started blogging. I was shocked at the venom of online commenters. It still isn't nice when I receive harsh comments but over time I have really learned to let go of it and understand that is not about me at all. As Gabby Bernstein says, "forgive and delete!" Sometimes some responses can be helpful as they point out something that I never considered or they highlight a different way of looking at something. But in the end, I have to approve of my work and trust that I am always learning and improving. The more confident I feel in who I am, the less influenced I am by negativity. The way you let criticism impact you is a great barometer of how strong you are becoming.
My mom always told me that you can't please everyone, so please yourself. There will always be people who disagree with you or who dislike your ideas and actions -- whether or not these people are coming from a positive or a negative place. Appreciate and accept them for being different than you and forgive them if they upset you. Remember that the road to success invites a lot of critics so the sooner you know what to take on board and what to release, the better. The fact that criticism exists at all also reminds us that all we can do is our best -- speak our truth, deliver our best work and surrender the rest.
And as one of my favorite books, The Magic of Thinking Big, says, "Expect critics, its proof you are growing." And on the ladder of growth is the only place to be.