Criticism. Like many of the things that I write about on this blog— it’s a part of life. And because it’s a part of life, we’re all going to have to encounter it at one point or another. And for many of us, we experienced it for the first time at a young age. When we were growing up, our parents or guardians would criticize us for the way we behaved around others, for the way we dressed, and even for the way we spoke. When we were school aged, our teachers would criticize our homework, class work, and projects. Even the friends that we made would end up criticizing aspects of our lives from time to time.
For so many people out there, criticism is a negative thing, but, for the positive thinker, there’s nothing wrong with criticism. When you have a positive mindset, you can and will see criticism for what it truly is— a way of self-improvement. Criticism (when it comes from the right person) can be used for growth. Your parents didn’t criticize you when you were growing up just so that you could feel bad about yourself. They did it because they wanted to see you become the best version of yourself. Your teachers didn’t criticize your school work so that they could feel better about themselves for making life difficult for you. They did it because they wanted to see you get good grades and actualize your fullest potential. And your friends don’t criticize you for their amusement. Okay, so maybe sometimes they do, but when they’re not trying to poke fun at you, they are doing it because they care about you and they want you to succeed in life. So, when criticism comes from people like this, take it and use it to improve upon the area of your life that is being criticized.
But be careful positive thinker, because even though criticism has the opportunity to help you grow, it can also hinder you. Let’s face it, not everyone that we encounter in our lives is in our corner. When the criticism comes from people who are in your corner and who truly want to see you succeed then listening to their criticism can be helpful. By the same token, if you find yourself receiving criticism from someone who is not in your corner and only wants to see you fail then you should tread lightly when taking their words into consideration. If they want to see you do well, then their criticism will come from a place of helpfulness. It will be constructive. However, if they don’t want to see you do well, then it’s likely that the criticism that they will give you will be words that throw poison onto your endeavor. If you take that poison, it will end you, but if you avoid taking it then you can continue on living the way that you want to live.
Welcoming criticism with open arms isn’t always easy. Not many people out there want to be told that they’re doing something wrong especially if you feel that you’re doing that thing the right way. So if you can’t initially find a way to embrace the criticism that you will undoubtedly receive throughout your life then I would encourage you to at least practice self-criticism. Be a self-critic as you make choices in your life. If you critique yourself whenever you come up with an idea (be it big or small) then you can walk into whatever decision you make knowing that you picked whatever option was best for you. If you’re confident in your decision, the criticism of others will seem to bother you less. Self-criticism is a good practice to have whether you are listening to the criticism of others or not, but even when you are practicing it, it’s also important that you still keep in mind whose being critical of you. If low-self esteem and needless self-doubt is driving your criticism then it’s best not to listen to them. On the other hand, if a genuine desire to make the best decision drives your self-criticism then go ahead and listen to it!
Positive thinker, criticism is a funny thing. Sometimes it can help us, and other times it can end up hurting us. Your task, however, is to find out which kind of criticism is there to help you and which kind is there to hurt you. When you find the good criticism, listen to it, but when you encounter the bad criticism, run far away from it.
And if you need help figuring out the difference between the two kinds of criticism, you’ll find that it would be a good idea to remember this quote…
“Learn how to take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off of you.” –Hillary Clinton