“You need to grow a backbone, move on and woman up!” I’ve had to tell myself that quite a bit. Here’s something you’ll learn about me. I am a hardcore words of affirmation girl. I don’t need a plethora of lavished words. Rather, I just need to know that I did good. That personality doesn’t bode well when you live in a world that’s filled with criticism and varying opinions. Not everyone will like you, like what you do and who you are. There will always be that one person that disagrees with you or criticizes you and who you are. What do you do when this happens?
Many of us die from criticism. The world falls apart when we’re told we didn’t do good enough, when someone’s tone is a bit harsh or when we’ve failed or messed up and hear the noise of criticism. Some of us get depressed, withdraw from the world and give up on our dreams. Why is that? Why for those of you, like me who thrive on compliments, die from criticism. Why do we live on compliments and hype? Is it because we hate negative things, maybe so. There is a bigger reason behind our response to criticism, though.
Before I get into that, let’s just take a moment to appreciate criticism. Yes, you read that right. Criticism isn’t all bad. While some criticism may come from a negative heart and agenda, most criticism isn’t all bad. Many times, the reason why there are successful people is because of criticism. Someone told a person they couldn’t do something, so said person did exactly what they were criticized not being able to do. Many times the discoveries we call science, is because someone challenged or criticized another that their goal was to create facts from their discovery and fight back the critique thrown at them.
Criticism has created some of the greatest inventors, discoveries, written literature, invention and men and women today. Here’s the biggest difference between those who allow criticism to kill versus those who’ve used it to propel them? Their, attitude. Your attitude is the biggest game changer and determining factor in whether you fail or succeed. I’ve failed many times and have learned to quit wallowing in failure, get back up and get back at it. You allow what criticism does to you. It’s not a matter of, “this is just how I am.” It’s a matter of choice in character. While most criticism isn’t easy to process, you decide what it does to you. Too often we’ve given words power over us rather than taking authority over it.
Here’s the thing, you cannot control what people have to say about you. You cannot change how people view you. Their opinions are theirs. Your response to their criticism and opinion is a direct result of who you believe you are and where you allow your worth to come from. If worth comes from less criticism and more agreement, you will never win. Worth is far greater than what the world has to say about you and me. It is far more than people pleasing. Greatest success is found when our confidence lies in the one who’ve created us. Success is found when we refuse to fail. When we’ve relinquished the power critique has over us and take authority over it. That is success. No longer do words control who we are and what we do. Rather, we fight against the words spoken over us and challenge that which challenged us, not with depression and withdrawing. Rather, we challenge with hope, perspective, and endurance.
Have you allowed criticism to control how you live? Have you taken a backseat and given criticism the ability to stir the way you live and think? You will lose quite a bit of years of growth in making words control what you do and how you view yourself. You are your worst critic when you allow criticism to control you. You get to choose what words do to you. While some words can be terribly harsh, you determine whether those words thrown at you fall on concrete and get blown away, or it falls on the soil of you heart and grows root of bitterness and fear to live and be the best you, you were created to be.
I was told I wasn’t smart. I was told I was slow and a dunce. I was criticized for how I pronounced certain words, for needing extra time to grasp certain concepts. I’ve been criticized for being a follower of Christ. I’ve even been criticized for my enjoyment in health and fitness. While I did get caught up in the words of criticism, it wasn’t until the realization that I have control and power over what those words do to me, was I able to challenge and combat criticism. I’ve used words thrown at me to become a better me. I welcome critique. I welcome the challenge. Not out of an attitude to prove people wrong. No, not at all. Rather, to grow the attitude within that heavily relies on people being pleased with me.
Don’t let criticism kill who you are, your dreams and goals. You have power in your response and attitude to the words spoken at you. There’s new life in criticism. New life to bring hope, challenge negative outlook and perspective. Not everyone will be on your team. That is perfectly okay. Don’t live your life trying to get that nod of approval from everyone. Rather, live life striving to become the best version of you. And the best version of you is who God has called you to be. The best version of you is the version that chooses to never give up.
Did you give up on who you are and your dreams because someone critiqued you? Have you allowed criticism to control who you are? How can you shift control today?