TALENT DEVELOPMENT RESOURCES : articles

Criticism / Self-criticism



    I’ve written before about my experiences with childhood bullying. It’s something that a lot of multipotentialites seem to have experienced (apparently when you do origami at recess and play violin in an orchestra, other kids think you’re weird…) And yet the truth is that the worst, most enduring bullying I ever experienced was not inflicted by my classmates at all, but by myself... Many amazing people had low confidence growing up. Having no confidence is a blessing: you can learn to build your confidence from scratch. [Photo: Nicole Kidman has struggled with impostor feelings.]


    You have a companion. One that never, ever leaves you. It sticks with you, staying even closer than your shadow. It is like a leech sucking your blood, and you cannot shake it loose. This constant companion is your mental chatter... an unending stream of noise. But you will also discover that much of it is putting you down, either directly or, more subtly, by having you compare yourself unfavorably to others. And it is exhausting you by telling you all the things you have to do that you probably will not be able to.

    The first key to handling criticism is the existential key. Until you decide that your path in life matters, that it is ultimately your responsibility to live by your cherished principles, and that you and only you can create a life worth living, you will have insufficient motivation to put criticism in its place.

    In this series, adapted from my book Toxic Criticism, we examine the ways that criticism and self-criticism interfere with our ability to find our life purpose and live as strongly, passionately, and effectively as we would like to live.

    By Benedict Carey, The New York Times -- Several recent studies stand as a warning against taking the platitudes of achievement too seriously. The new research focuses on a familiar type, perfectionists, who panic or blow a fuse when things don’t turn out just so.

    There are two kinds of negative feedback, the kind that – as painful as it is – is generally accurate and helpful and the kind that is totally without merit. Let’s look at this last kind of criticism first.

    Healthy criticism can help refine our talents and creative projects in the pursuit of excellence. But when it is based on a excessive perfectionism or an unrealistic self concept, criticism can be destructive and self-limiting, eroding our creative assurance and vitality.

    Whether it's feedback we've asked for, an unsolicited remark called out from the audience or a simple "no" result of an audition or submission process, criticism and rejection are a huge part of our lives as creative artists.

    One of the greatest deterrents to creativity is the inner voice that constantly whispers in our ear that we're not good enough, that nobody will approve of what we're doing, and that they don't really like us anyway.

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