I realised early on that I have this innate need to please people around me, people I know and the ones I don't. I suppose it comes with being the middle child. But the fact is that you can not always please everyone and are bound to step on a few toes now and again no matter how particular you are. So, my obsessive people-pleasing tendencies got my heart broken often. Even though over the years I learned not to let this get in my way, I was not at all prepared for what was to come.
Like many, after working in a ‘cubical’ for a long time, I wanted to reconnect with my creative side, and I began writing. As a writer nothing is more encouraging than reading what people have to say about your book. So when I published my book I visited Goodreads often to see what people were saying about my book. While I feel everyone has been very kind to me in their reviews, there are some that do get to me no matter how well intended the reviewer may have been.
My first reaction; panic which eventually grows into the feeling that yes, the book is rubbish, I don’t deserve to be here. My first poor review had me is a spaced out zone for a day or perhaps more (my husband might know better given that I was spaced out). My people-pleasing brain started drawing plans of how I can get that particular reader to like me personally so that she would like my work. The next few days which should have gone into the actual writing of my next book went in obsessing.
Finally, I had a moment of clarity and remembered what Malti Bhojwani a life coach, whose excellent workshop I was lucky enough to attend, had so beautifully explained. ‘Other people’s opinion is none of my concern’. That helped then, and it helps now.
For years I have researched the web, read self-improvement books, attended workshops, and tried to practice whatever I have understood and here is what I have learnt so far.
When you are putting yourself and your work out there, people will have opinions about you, your work and even about things that are not their concern. So how do you deal with all the criticism without crumbling down? There is one very simple solution to it.
If you can live that way, problem solved.
However, if you do want to say, do and be what you dream to be, embrace the fact that criticism is part of the game. Acknowledging that it is going to come your way and accepting it, is the start to releasing that not all criticism is bad. There is also something like constructive criticism that comes from source/s that wants you to grow, enhance and become better. These are the people you would want to listen to because they are adding to you and your dream.
As for the people who are vicious and attack in the name of criticism or even under the pretence of constructive criticism, you should feel sorry for such souls.
You’ll realise that they draw their conclusions from their ideas and beliefs. Their intentions are never very clear, and they are definitely not creating anything positive for themselves and not for anyone else.
Now you’ll say “It’s easier said than done.” And you know what? It is. That's why you have to practice it. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Some days it’ll be easier and other days, you’ll want to mope around and even cry a little. And that is okay. It’s important to feel it because then you can get past it. But it is equally important to get past it and not let it crush your dreams. It is important to push your dream out into the world because that is more important than some people who may not understand it.
To create is a celebration of one's ability and I sincerely hope you will remember how important it is. Create for yourself before anyone else - that is your business. Following your dream is your choice, and I hope you believe in yourself as there is nothing else that can get you where you want to be.
This quote by Theodore Roosevelt on criticism just sums it up:
Need more convincing? You must read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.