Thoughts On Criticism

My mind is under pressure: the tension that increases along with fear to be rejected and to disappoint. At what exact point in life, one finds himself at the place where, while criticism matters, it, however, plays no significant role, not taken close to the heart? Perhaps, it is nowhere. Perhaps, sometime at the age when one no longer remembers how exactly it felt when numerous events caused such oppressive pain. Until a certain age I was growing up with the impression that praises were obligated to happen, and criticism directed to my persona was mostly non-constructive. Such mindset development could have been caused by two contradicting voices of my parents. As much as my father has been keen on providing us with quality education, with guidance in discipline (which, oh what a pity! includes criticism), my mother avoided that tactic in exchange for “love covers it all.” As I am getting ready to become a parent myself, I wonder about which way was the most prominent and beneficial one. Would I take other’s attempts to criticize my work, my way of living with more ease if a long time ago my parents would agree upon balancing healthy feedback, an idea that I was by no means perfection, along with the notion of fulfilling the support of my actions and desires? It is the question I am yet to find an answer to. 


At first, I thought I ought to answer honestly to myself whether fear of rejection and criticism was a sign of immaturity or contrarily a proof of a tender, artistic soul that avoids conflicts of any kind. However, the more I meditate on the topic, the more I conclude that the inability to accept evaluation if necessary (obviously filtering things that were said in an illogical manner) is based on the immaturity of the character. Not that I reached the point where I finally discovered the perfect balance between people I chose to accept criticism from and between learning from every comment I received. I would rather say I am still on the way to such tranquillity. And yet, the moments I allow myself to slip, to forget that most critiques from superiors are delivered out of good intention or professional obligations, the moment I drown in tears because of one unkind word, I see myself as an emotional, unreasonable child. I am convinced, many can relate to such feelings. 

What I find rather intriguing is how well, if learned, we can control the flow of emotions that follow any kind of judgment. Whenever one chooses to submit to the bitter desire to be approved of every step, one can be sure to fail right there. Someone said it is an improvement we ought to aim for, not approval. Thus, if one contrarily learns to guide the flow of thoughts and emotions towards improvement, one most likely will firstly keep peace of mind, and secondly, will progress, will develop. That all, of course, if critics were unbiased if it was based on a genuine interest in one’s fate or career growth. Along with my slightly unbalanced perception of disapproval, I believe to possess that discipline that allows me to switch from tears of anger to a determined point of view where at first I thrive for approval, and a second I realize all vanity, all irrelevance of such motif. Thus I turn my focus to improvement for my own sake. As a result, that provides me with much more inspiration and strength than if I would stay at the stage of an unhealthy, rotting condition of self-blame, other’s insensitivity blame and desire to prove to those who simply were doing their job. 


With hugs,

Marie K.