Whether you’re trying to launch a new business, lose 20 pounds, write a book, or master a new skill, there’s likely to be at least one person in your life giving you their reasons, opinions and insights as to why it won’t work.
It’s nearly impossible to live your life without hearing from critics and naysayers. They’re part of the human experience. However, it’s your job to not allow them to stop you.
Here are 8 strategies to avoid allowing critics to hold you back:
1-Find your purpose. If you’re doing something you’re passionate about, it’s less likely that the opinions of others will derail you. Sure they may have you questioning your plan, but if what you’re inspired to do is driven by something you’re passionate about, it’ll take more than a comment or two to throw you off track.
2-Understand why most people are being unsupportive. Sounds crazy but some people are triggered by your desire to do something big. Why? It’s forcing them to see and acknowledge what they’re not willing to do.
For example, you decided to change your eating habits because you want to lose the excess weight and feel better. The other person is now facing the fact that they may need to lose weight too but they don’t want to put the time and effort into changing their habits. Or, someone decides to get the help they need to break an addiction, heal from trauma, or start a passion project. Your changes are forcing them to look at something they don’t want to see or are unwilling to do themselves.
Some people are also triggered or angry when you start doing well. They can feel as if you’re leaving them behind or they may realize that they’re unwilling to do what it takes to have that same level of success. Instead of being inspired by your healing, your changes, your new level of success (which can then lead to changes within themselves), it’s easier to find fault with what you’re doing (so that you’re the issue and they don’t have to change.
3-Focus on your mission. Instead of being derailed by criticism, use it as a measure of how much you’re changing. This way, the more criticism you hear, the more you’ll link it with your growth and progress and the less hurtful the words will feel.
4-There are more kind supporters than harsh critics. We notice negative feedback more than we notice positive feedback. For example, you can receive 50 positive reviews for a talk or a project. Yet, that one critical review is the one you remember.
Is it worth reading the positive reviews if the negative review is the one you focus on? Decide to skip reading all reviews if that’s the case. Or, check in with the numbers and realize that there are more positives coming your way than negatives. More importantly, focusing more on what you feel versus what others say helps you become more committed to what you’re doing and helps you become more “critic proof.”
5-Realize that you’re going to be criticized no matter what you do. Whether you become a billionaire, movie star, teacher, doctor, or sit on the couch all day, there is someone that will give you their feedback and perspective; whether you want it or not. For example, when I went back to school for a PhD at 50 while raising a big family and managing my business, I heard from many people: “Oh my gosh, you’re going back now? Aren’t you a little old for that?” My response: “If all goes well, I’ll eventually be a few years older anyway and now I’ll have a PhD when I get there.”
Since you’re going to hear negative comments no matter what you do, do what matters the most to you and do your best to ignore the naysayers.
6-Respond calmly. Avoid giving your critics the pleasure of an emotional response. Respond with kindness, and you’ll often find they soften their criticism or apologize. You can also give it 24 hours to see if your response is still something you want to say or you may choose to not respond at all. Their perspective is their business. You don’t need to take it on or even acknowledge it if you don’t want to.
7-Use your critics as motivation. While some people are intimidated and deflated by critics, others are able to use the negative comments as a source of motivation. Be careful if you’re using this “I’ll show you” fuel however if it’s your only motivation. Building something magnificent is best built by your inspiration because of something you’re inspired and energized to create. Building something off of “I’ll show you” fuel may get the job done, but there’s a negative, painful or angry motivation behind it.
8-Decide if they have something useful to say. Some criticism can be helpful. If you receive specific criticism, consider if it might be true. Adapt your approach if necessary. If the criticism isn’t helpful, don’t let it take root in your body, mind and heart.
As Brene Brown said: “If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I am not interested in or open to your feedback. There are a million cheap seats in the world today filled with people who will never be brave with their own lives, but will spend every ounce of energy they have hurling advice and judgement at those of us trying to dare greatly. Their only contributions are criticism, cynicism, and fear-mongering. If you’re criticizing from a place where you’re not also putting yourself on the line, I’m not interested in your feedback.”
Avoid allowing critics to derail your plans. Remember, their words are coming from their perspective. It doesn’t make it right, doesn’t make it true, doesn’t make it something you need to listen to. Instead, let it show you how committed you are to keep going.
Founder and CEO, The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute