“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” — Norman Vincent Peale
Be confident enough in yourself to listen to criticism and explore views you don’t necessarily agree with — because those who always agree with you will rarely push you to improve as much as those who don’t.
“A wise person knows that there is something to be learned from everyone.” — Unknown
Anyone who has ever struggled to achieve something great knows that the journey to accomplish worthy goals is often fraught with hardship. They know that great tasks may sometimes appear improbable — or even impossible — before completed.
“Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr
Listening to sage advice from experienced individuals who wish to help you is one thing, entertaining criticism and fear mongering from people who have little understanding of what you want to do is another.
It’s better to be your genuine self and have fewer of the right kinds of people in your life than it is to surround yourself with those who only accept you as long as you conform to their idea of who you should be.
Don’t live your life wearing a disguise.
When you refuse to be anything but your genuine self, you give those who are most compatible with who you are a chance to find you.
Never fear being rejected by those who seek to confine you to their expectations. It’s OK not to be liked or accepted by everyone you cross paths with on your journey.
You have to live your own life, learn from what life experiences provide you and evolve into the person you were meant to be.
Sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and let go of things that are keeping you from making progress in life in order to make space for more of the things that will help you fulfill your potential.
If you do the best you can to be a decent human being, show tolerance and kindness to others — and still live in fear of what people think of you, your possessions, your opinions, or your beliefs, and then alter your behavior to be “approved” by as many people as possible, that isn’t freedom, it’s a form of self-imposed slavery.
You become a slave to the idea that what other people might think is more important that exercising your ability to express your true self.
Have you ever avoided something as simple as clicking a “like” button or commenting on a post on social media because you were afraid of what people would think if they saw it? If so, then you’re doing it.
If your relationships are so fragile that something like a single like, share, or comment could end them (or cause an unfollow or other equivalent), then perhaps those are not the kind of relationships that are really adding any kind of value to your life.
And perhaps it’s time to ask yourself what the point of “collecting people” in your life is, if the sorts of people you’ve collected will judge you “unworthy” of their friendship and leave you the moment you truly express yourself.
This is an issue that goes far beyond how people act on social media, it’s a real-life problem as well.
Changing who you are to be liked by people may result in more people “liking” you, but it also means that those who “like” you are liking someone who is pretending to be someone or something they’re not.
And, ultimately, you’re sacrificing yourself (and your life) to do it. You’re sacrificing your freedom to express your true self in order to gain “friends” who don’t even like you for you.
Do you respect people who water themselves down, live in fear of being disliked, or pretend to be someone they’re not in order to gain favor? If not, then how can you expect to respect yourself if you do the same things?
Be your genuine self and you will find that those who stick around in your life are those who appreciate and respect you for who you truly are. They may not agree with everything you say, do, or believe, but they are far more likely to forgive you for your mistakes or lapses in judgement and stick by you not only during the high times in your life, but also the lows.
And you can live knowing that you’re not being judged by those who matter to you — and if you are, you still don’t live in fear of it, because it’s not your problem. When people judge you, it says more about them than it says about you.
And, in the off chance you suck as a human being and few people like you, then that’s perhaps a sign you have some things to work on to be a better person in an authentic way — and not someone who simply pretends to be one.
As far I’m concerned, if you’re tolerant and open-minded, I like having you in my life, regardless of your beliefs or some opinions you have that I don’t agree with (and vice-versa). Because ultimately, we help each other grow.
Make a donation to a charity? Someone will tell you it’s the wrong charity. Give to the homeless? Someone will tell you why that’s a bad idea. Like a certain kind of music? Someone will tell you why it sucks. Read a good book lately? Someone out there hates it. Think something is funny? Someone won’t see the humor. Have something cool you want to attempt? Someone will tell you not to bother because it’s already been done.
George Lucas, JK Rowling, The Beatles, and countless other success stories — all got rejected because someone thought there was something “wrong” with what they had to offer, but they all succeeded because they persisted anyway.
It should go without saying that no matter what you do or what your motivation is for doing it, there will almost always be someone to tell you that you’re doing it wrong.
At some point, you just have to learn to listen to your heart and your intuition and do what you feel is right, regardless of what the critics say. Because sometimes what’s considered wrong or flawed to one person, may be a work of genius to another.
Use feedback to make yourself, your actions, and your offerings more effective, but never give up doing what you want to do just because someone doesn’t “get it”.
Odds are, if you do anything worth doing and it initiates change for the greater good, someone somewhere isn’t going to like it.
I’m paraphrasing the above quotes from reviews of one of my favorite books last year. Some of the actual reviews are far more brutal — and there are many more just like this.
I mean some people really hate this book.
And that’s a pretty sure sign that something is wrong. Right?
So what should the author do? Should they take the criticism to heart and curl up in a ball on the floor? Should they give up writing? (Some people have suggested as much).
Maybe they should seek ways to ensure that their next book — if they can muster the motivation to write one — appeals to these “haters” in some way so as to not to attract such harsh criticism?
They could do that.
In fact, it’s not that uncommon for people to not only change their creations to please others, some even go as far as to change the unique things about themselves in order to be more like those that get better “feedback”.
But I think that’s a mistake.
It may surprise you to discover that the book I’m referring to currently has a solid 5 star rating on Amazon. It has also been one of the best-selling books in its genre since it was published.
So — depending on how you look at it — it’s not so bad after all.
But what about these 1 star reviews? Are they invalid?
No. Of course not. Because an opinion is just that, an opinion.
Even if you’re only in the 1% of people who either do or don’t like something, it doesn’t make you “wrong”. It just means that, for whatever reason, you are not among the appreciative audience the something was intended or most suited for.
The next time you feel rejected, criticized, or cross paths with someone who sees things differently than you do, I encourage you to remind yourself that it is likely impossible to be universally liked. And in order for nearly anything to truly have mass appeal, it must also situate itself within a very narrow spectrum so as not to offend, or bore, or turn off anyone.
And often, the moment something gains mass appeal, people criticize it for exactly that reason.
Even people who donate millions of dollars to charity receive complaints from folks who don’t think it was the right charity, or the right time, or the best use of that person’s money.
It’s very rare that you can ever do what you consider a good thing that everyone who hears about it will appreciate.
Remember this the next time you run across someone who has a different opinion than you do, or who criticizes you or something you produce. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong, but it more than likely means they are simply not among the people you or what you produce is most suited for.
What really matters is making — and doing — the things you want to do for those they are intended for and not wasting your time trying to please or appease those who will never get you — or what you have to offer — no matter how hard you try.
What is the book in question? It doesn’t really matter.
Because it could be any book. Or any movie, or song, or literally anything anyone has an opinion about one way or the other.
If you’d like to try an exercise, I suggest going and reading the negative reviews for one of your favorite books or movies. Then, go read the positive reviews for a book or movie you really disliked.
Doing this can help provide added perspective because it reminds us of what it feels like to be at both ends of the spectrum — and neither end is “wrong.”
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