How To Deal With Criticism

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Why does certain criticism sting so much? I’ve come to believe that it’s often not for the reason we suspect.

When doing creative work, especially in public, you are essentially inviting feedback. I’ve said before that those who work in public are essentially painting a giant target on themselves, and thus must be willing to deal with the sting of the arrows. However, while I believe this to be true in principle, in practice it is often much more challenging.

Which leads me to this question: have you ever considered why certain forms of criticism sting you more than others? Do you respond with more anger, defensiveness, or aggression with certain types of feedback than with others?

If so, it could be that there is some form of limiting narrative or embedded belief/fear that is lurking just beneath the surface, waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

Here’s an experiment I’d like to propose:

  1. Pay attention to your response to critique and feedback over the coming week. If it suits you, perhaps even write each piece of feedback down.
  2. More importantly, see if you can identify why that feedback elicited such a strong response in you. Is it possible that there is some defining story that’s affecting your engagement?
  3. If you can spot some beliefs/narratives, consider how else they might be playing out in your life and work. Are they affecting the choices you make, the opportunities you seek, or your relationships? Is so, how?
    It’s often not the circumstances we learn from, but our response to them. Identifying limiting narratives or patterns of self-destruction can help us spot them when they crop up, then nip them before they cause us to implode or obsess needlessly over critique.

Understanding why criticism stings can help us learn from it and apply insights to life and work.

This episode is sponsored by Patreon. Creators — are you tired of being paid in clicks and likes? Patreon lets you build real, sustainable income through the direct support of your fans. Sign up on patreon.com now and start building the steady income stream you deserve.

This episode is also sponsored by Lightstream.

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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