Almost every individual has at one or more points in their lives received criticism from someone. People are usually more susceptible to criticism when they are in the limelight for whatever reason, be it politics, business, fashion, wealth, talent and the list is endless. The criticism can come from both close circles or far off or from both relevant and irrelevant circles.
The thing about criticism is that most people get paralysed by it. Up and coming talented artists start off ambitiously only to fizzle out because they have started receiving criticism from various quarters about their music, their dress style, their producer or even just the fact that they are breathing becomes enough to warrant massive criticism.
When people have fresh ambitions, they are full of hope and motivation and usually do not anticipate the wave of criticism that will follow when they set to work on their ambitions.
Dr Brené Brown is a research professor who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy and is the author of several books. She also gives talks on her areas of expertise. I found her take on issues that make us vulnerable to be interesting. She defines her bottom line as follows: “I believe that you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage, therefore . . . embrace the suck. I try to be grateful every day and my motto right now is ‘Courage over comfort’.”
Courage over comfort
Just as Dr Brown puts it, absolutely everyone goes through moments in life that make them vulnerable to a lot of uncomfortable feelings and situations in life; fear, doubt, hopelessness, loss, pain, humiliation and failure. Sometimes, these moments are caused by or aggravated by critics. And these are the moments people become completely paralysed by the criticism they are receiving.
In this social media era, criticism is more apparent as within seconds, a wave of criticism on Twitter or Facebook or WhatsApp statuses can follow a person’s performance, appointment, inauguration, newspaper article, TV interview, wedding, photo-shoot and even funeral. Consequently, people feel suffocated when they take in all that criticism at a go; they want to hide in a cocoon and give up. In case of funerals, it is the ones remaining behind that suffer.
However, those are the moments that should build our courage. No one ever grew from a comfort zone. When people set out on a path, they should be clear as to why they are on that path and realise that not everyone will understand their journey let alone like it so the criticism will come. Interestingly, the more impact people have, the more they will be hammered with criticism.
Ofcourse, sometimes people do give and receive constructive criticism but there is indeed a stark difference between someone who is trying to sincerely build someone up and someone who rants a bitter tirade laced with malice and sometimes envy.
The funny thing about most critics is that they usually do not have the full story; they are not capable of doing what their subject of criticism does and most importantly, they are largely irrelevant to the bottom line the subject is trying to achieve. So why not eat your critics for lunch? Move forward and make things happen.
Critics will always be there
Critics will always be there, on the front row, at the back seat, whispering on the side-lines, pretending to be your friend and hiding behind the veil of social media. This should not stop anyone from making the best of their lives and attaining the goals they have set for themselves. This should not stop well-meaning projects and initiatives from happening because critics have a lot to say.
Winston Churchill said: “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw rocks at every dog that barks.” The statement rings true for critics because one cannot afford to keep compromising themselves every time someone has something to say. There is a destination to be reached and time will not wait for critics at the backseat.
I rest my case