HEY WRITER, did you know criticism can make you stronger? Most of us could share quite a few stories about the criticism we’ve received and the mark it left on our psyche. We all know it can leave us feeling weak, misunderstood, and vulnerable, but it can also make us stronger if we let it.
“We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticize us perform a remarkable act of friendship, for to undertake to wound or offend a man for his own good is to have a healthy love for him.” – Michel de Montaigne
A really hard lesson to learn is how to embrace criticism as a natural form of feedback. Understanding that it can be a great way to learn and grow, also makes it easier to give and receive criticism. With practice, you can learn to thrive from the criticism you receive. And yes, that applies to unfounded criticism from people who aren’t even qualified to be critics.
Here are three unexpected ways criticism can help make you stronger:
1. Normalising the Practice
When you give and receive criticism on a regular basis it normalises the practice. This is especially important for anyone who wants to make it in the creative industries. You will be criticised. A lot. And it won’t just be the relative merits of your contributions to your particular art form they will go after.
We live in an era of triggers and snowflakes and cancel culture, and it makes a lot of people afraid to fail. But for us creatives, failing is important. It is, in fact, one of the greatest teachers we will ever have. And so is criticism.
When we engage in an ongoing circle of giving and receiving high-value criticism, we normalise the practice and make it easier to identify:
— When we should listen to critical feedback;
— When we need to make changes;
— The impact we have on others; and
— What makes us resistant to criticism.
Pay attention to these four points. The most successful creatives learn to see criticism as feedback, and they use it to make adjustments in their thoughts and behaviours based on the information received.
2. Creating a Culture of Change
When we engage in a circle of giving and receiving criticism, we create a culture of change. Being able to adapt and change is a great transferable skillset to have. Cultivating a mindset that embraces high-quality criticism as a catalyst to change therefore makes sense.
Creatives who can morph and shift their focus tend to achieve at greater levels. They also find it easier to deal with an ever-changing world. Nothing stays the same and critical feedback can help us make important changes that make us stronger and better over time.
3. Making You Less Sensitive
When we engage in a circle of giving and receiving criticism, it makes us less sensitive. It makes us more thick-skinned. The principle behind that is simple: The more time we spend doing something, the better we get at it.
Our sensitivity is rooted in our past and it comes from a place of fear and resistance. The less criticism we receive, the worse it feels when it happens. And I repeat, it will happen. Which is why we need to practice.
Just as a boxer gets used to having punches thrown their way, you can get used to criticism. Learning how to manage it can help you figure out when, and how, to duck and weave, and when to take it on the chin. The more you desensitise yourself, the stronger you get. And the stronger you are, the better you’ll be able to go out on a limb and take risks. Something you’ll have to do if you want to succeed as a creative.
Yes, the public scrutiny can be intimidating and it’s no wonder if it makes you feel defensive. It’s a perfectly normal reaction, especially when you’re not used to receiving criticism. But the truth is, learning to embrace criticism as a natural part of life can make you stronger and more effective.
Here’s my pro tip: Learn to normalise criticism and treat it as a valuable resource for your personal and professional development. It will save you a lot of frustration and help make you a better writer.
Questions of the Day:
– What’s the best and/or worst criticism you’ve ever received?
– What lesson can you/did you learn from it?
Let’s talk in the comments below, or send me your response via socials or email.
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed your stay and I look forward to seeing you again.
© Evalena Styf, 2020