Criticism Happens, Don’t Take it Personally

“Understand: people will constantly attack you in life. One of their main weapons will be to instill in you doubts about yourself – your worth, your abilities, your potential. They will often disguise this as their objective opinion, but invariably it has a political purpose – they want to keep you down.”

— Robert Greene

The above quote is from the book ‘The 50th Law’, which I already mentioned in an earlier post. I’m sure even the brightest of people have received some form of criticism, put-down, or harsh words from other people during their lifetime. One of the most useful skills we can develop in life is to develop a thick skin, which means we shouldn’t take whatever negative baggage other people throw at us personally. If we constantly remind ourselves of the criticism we have received in the past, we are the ones that have lost. Why? Because we spend valuable mental and emotional energy reminding ourselves of that time, when the person that criticized us probably has already forgotten about it.

I’m not saying that all people are bad, in fact I believe that the majority of people are good. But even the model citizens among us (including me) went through a time went we are in a bad mood and just can’t help ourselves criticize or put others down. It’s alright, after all we are only human, there is no need to be burdened by guilt (which serves no purpose anyway), just acknowledge your mistake, learn from it, then move on.

We must be aware of the consequences of those negative words though — what if you read the works of a future great writer and you said to him, “Who reads this stuff anyway?” She may react differently, depending on her personality. There are those who don’t take things personally, then there are the ones that will transmute your insults into motivation through the desire of wanting to prove you wrong. Both of the above are ideal ways to handle put-downs, but what if she reacted by giving-up writing? Wouldn’t you be responsible for crushing the dreams of this future great writer? How would you know…

In conclusion, I want to suggest that we should not take things personally, even if it comes from the mouth of an authority. Also, we should be aware of the criticisms we sometimes give other people too, not knowing the consequences of those words.

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