Maintaining focus is difficult in the best of circumstances. Dealing with petty criticism only compounds the challenges. In this page we'll suggest a few ideas to help overcome the critics noise.
Petty criticism has an amazing, immediate effect on people. It can distract the strongest person and it can stop a more sensitive person in his or her tracks. The words of a critic can paralyze someone who isn't prepared for such a verbal assault. We'll help you with that preparation in the next few paragraphs
In this section I'll offer some wise words from best-selling author Matthew Kelly. In a chapter subtitled "Don't Let the Critics Win" he writes. "I want to encourage you to be watchful for patterns in which resistance is easily defeating you. Over the years I have noticed two in my life.
The first surrounds critics and criticism. It is so easy to let the critic distract you....It is amazing how easily we can allow the critic to rob us of our passion and energy.
I was watching a short Winnie the Pooh film online with Walter (his son) last year, and at the end of the film you had the opportunity to like or dislike it. The film had 13 million likes and twenty-five thousand dislikes. And I thought to myself, 'It's a classic story, a classic character-and what's not to like about Winnie the Pooh?' But twenty-five thousand people disliked it enough to voice their opinion. Even Pooh had haters.
The critics will always be there, but it is not the critic that counts. Have you ever seen a statue of a critic? No. I haven't either. Do they award a Nobel Prize for Critic of the Year? No, there is no Best Critic Ever statue or award."
We'll add some more wisdom from Matthew Kelly in the next section. But his words in the previous paragraph were worth noting. It's not the critic that counts. In fact I've been carrying around a famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt for many years. It's torn and tattered now. I've read it so often that I can recite it verbatim. I've posted it in the call out box just below.
Petty criticism comes from two very distinct areas. Jealousy and self-loathing. In our recent page about character analysis, we wrote about someone who was jealous of other's accomplishments and did everything in his power to bring down another person.
Petty criticism also rears it ugly head among people who don't like their own lives. Too often they resort to gossip and verbal abuse that goes far beyond the realm of petty criticism. But it's all about bringing people down to their levels. It's like the old story about crab fishermen. They don't need to put a lid on the crab bin. If one tries to climb out, the others pull it back down to their level.
Matthew Kelly explains petty criticism this way. "Throughout my life I have noticed two trends when it comes to criticism. First they have usually made up their minds before they meet you. The second thing I find with critics is more often than not...they are simply reacting to something they heard from someone else."
There is a place for constructive criticism. This comes from people who genuinely care about you and want you to succeed. They are sincere in their opinion and only offer it to help you. They have no ulterior motive.
Petty criticism is the complete opposite. The intention is to hurt and to derail success. Once again from Matthew Kelly, "Be watchful. Be on guard against the critics. Resistance will use them to discourage you, or at the very least distract you. Press on with what matters most. Perseverance is the antidote for the resistance put forth by critics. It is a great virtue."
I'll add these closing comments. We give the purveyor of petty criticism the power to bring us down to their level. We give them the power to derail our goals and stall our dreams. We give them the power to make us feel bad about ourselves.
But since we give them the power, we can also take it away from the critics. Take the constructive advice from those who care about you. But ignore the petty criticism that seeks to halt your efforts to do great things.
There will always be critics. But they only gain power when we allow it. Their words are empty and non-threatening when we stay laser focused on what we believe in and in our purpose in life.