Criticism – this should be familiar to anybody who has dared to voice an idea that doesn’t coincide with the opinion of others. We deal with daily criticism from friends, family, strangers, even ourselves. We live in an opinionated world that tries to mold you to the “box” and discredits your own unique views. So, how do you grow yourself without compromising your identity? Let’s channel the story of Goldilocks for a moment and assess our options:
Nobody knows better than you. Stay stubborn and grounded. Reject the opinion of others and push forward with whatever you had planned.
There is a fine line between being an individual with an iron will, and simply being narrow-minded and egotistical.
This bowl is too hot.
Maybe the voices have a point and your vision isn’t what you thought it was. Listen to the voices and adapt your ways to satisfy those around you.
You can’t take everybody’s criticisms to heart and let people break you down. This is a sure-fire way to feel inadequate and insecure. On top of that, if you continuously conform to the views of others, you will never be of true merit nor an individual.
This bowl is too cold.
It appears that we have reached a dead-end here. If you go with the first option, you’re an arrogant blow-hard who nobody wants to socialize with at parties. If you take the second option, you’re a marshmallow with no rigid structure, allowing anybody who you encounter to shape and mold you as they please. As with everything in life, the key is balance. Here is how to approach inevitable criticism with an open mind, yet staying firm and true to yourself:
EXERCISE YOUR SENSORY TOOLSET
It’s not enough to merely perceive the sound waves. That is called “hearing.” We must decode and comprehend the message behind the sounds – that, my friends, is called listening.
Listening is something that we consciously choose to do; we can hone it into a skill and use it as a tool. Sometimes we have weak areas in our plans, thoughts, or ideas, and our community is a great medium for shining a light on our weaknesses so that we can clearly see, refine, and strengthen these areas in need of development.
Your ideas are the sword, and the opinions of others (which you value) sharpen your blade. Again, it is okay to disagree with the opinion of others, but make sure you understand the opposing view before you dismiss it.
DEVELOP A FILTER
Be open and absorb but filter out the bullshit to uncover the golden cues. Did you take the time to listen and understand the challenging opinion? Good. Is it well thought through and constructive or is it petty and negative? If the former, it will be in your best interest to comprehend before you react. If the latter, dismiss and move forward without the unnecessary weight of negativity.
When trying something new, there is always an area of uncertainty. Sometimes we elicit a strong emotional response to opposition and we let irrationality overcome reason. Practice removing emotion from the equation and you are provided with valuable, unbiased information on how to better yourself, your plans, and your ideas.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO DISAGREE
Should you embrace opinions and criticisms to identify your flaws and work on yourself? Absolutely. Listen and open your mind. However, recognize that it is perfectly okay to disagree with somebody else’s opinion. Humans are social creatures naturally seeking acceptance of others, however, keep it in your mind that there is nothing wrong with individuality. You have every right to have a different view and mindset. In fact, you should be comfortable with it.
Negativity is a far more powerful force than positivity and it can overwhelm us if we continue to feed it with attention. You will face pettiness and negativity, which are like annoying automated telemarketing calls. Hang up, block the number, and move forward.
To sum it up, we found the first bowl of porridge to be too hot and overwhelming, and the second bowl of porridge was too cold and weak in flavor. Let’s take what we discussed and try the third bowl:
Criticism is a valuable tool for self-development, therefore we should embrace it. However, we must practice the skill of listening to help filter out negativity and pettiness so that we are focusing only on opinions that are meaningful and productive to our own development.
If you take every single piece of criticism to heart, you slowly mold yourself into something else – you become a physical manifestation of the ideas of others and you are no longer genuine. Form your own opinions, stay open to the ideas of others, and remember that it is perfectly okay to disagree so long as you maintain a rational mindset.
This bowl is just right.
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”Oscar Wilde