No matter how thoughtful or honest your work is, it’s likely going to be met with some opposition. That’s okay. You are worthy of following your own path, and you can learn how to handle criticism sent your way and still be better than okay.
“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” – Rank Howard Clark
Though criticism is meant to help us grow into the best, truest versions of ourselves, harsh words can sting longer after they’re spoken. This exercise, inspired by Marie Forleo’s video, will help you recognize criticism merely as information that can help you grow, instead of letting it ruin your day or stop you from following your own path.
As Marie says, “As long as there’s creativity, there’s going to be criticism of it.” It’s when we let the fear of criticism block our creativity, flow, and joy that we hand over our power to an external source. Here are three important things to keep in mind when it comes to criticism, and a simple exercise to put the key to your happiness and worthiness back in your own pocket.
3 Things to Remember about Criticism
When we’re struggling with how to handle criticism in a healthy way, first remember these three important truths:
- Everything you love is disliked by somebody. That doesn’t make it any less worthy of loving.
- It’s a lot easier to critique a thing than it is to make a thing. Whether the energy behind the critique is hurtful or thoughtful, the other person is not walking your path day in and day out, nor are they facing the challenges you’ve encountered associated with doing what you love and believe in.
- Do not give anyone the power to make you feel worthless. “Nobody,” as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
How to Handle Criticism, a Writing Exercise
In Marie’s video, she shares a wonderful writing practice that aims to give your critics a voice on your own page, quite literally.
- In your journal or on a legal pad or on a scrap of paper, write out the exact words you think would crush you to hear. What could someone say about you that would sound bad to you, or that might hurt your feelings? If you’ve already heard hurtful things, you can include those.
- Take a deep breath in and out.
- Read your words aloud to yourself, or to a creative friend who understands, and who will be non-judgmental and compassionate.
That’s it. This way, the worst thing anyone could say to you has been said, and you’ve faced it. The point of this is not to bash yourself, but to bring your worst fears into the light and out of the shadows. When you do that, the fears lose their power over you. You reclaim your power to be happy and creative and engaged in what you do, because that’s what makes you feel alive.
One last thought…
It may matter what some people think if you’re making a living from your creative expression. When you’re actually making your art, though, it has to be for you. Don’t do it for the financial potential or possible opinions of others. Do it for your soul because it needs to do it, because it brings you joy and exhilaration and transcendence.
To reiterate one of my favorite quotes, from Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
- How do you keep criticism, or the fear of it, from crushing your spirit and stealing your joy?
- How do you remind yourself that only you can hold the key to your happiness?
Please share your own thoughts, advice, lessons learned, or experiences with me in the comments.
Share this with someone who is so worthy of following their heart.
“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” – Buddha