If you put yourself out there for your work or for any other reason, you’ve probably met a few critics. A few years back, I was the victim of cyber-bullying to the extent that I allowed it to cripple me and stop me from doing what I was called to do. The person was someone who had once been close to me, someone I had looked up to in the past, so their words had weight to them and the deepest part of me, at the core of my very being, agreed that I was indeed inadequate. That incident escalated to police involvement and ended with a tragic suicide. After taking some time to heal, I rose again with a new strength I didn’t have before and went on to what I feel was the greatest accomplishment of my adult life. Yet again, a critic entered the scene for a showdown. This time, I was well-equipped to handle every bullying tactic this person tried to disable me. Nothing could hurt me the way the first one did but while I never actually gave up and quit, I played the defense, holding my ground until I became a watered-down substitute for the real me that only those closest to me know. So even though on the surface it appeared I rode out the storm, in reality, the fear of being criticized and bullied again won out in the end.
It wasn’t until recently in one of my Mastermind Group calls that I discovered the deep, hidden fears that had been there all along, kind of like how we get used to the background noise of traffic when we live in the city and it doesn’t really bother us anymore. It was only when I started to move forward on some major goals that the noise became louder and louder to the point where I couldn’t hear anything else. It’s only when you’re about to do something significant that fear shows up.
As a creative person or entrepreneur, you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you put yourself out there for your work and you don’t really have a choice. People let out their frustrations on you because they see something in you they wish they had. Maybe it’s the fact that you’re truly happy and self-expressed in what you’re doing and it cuts them down in their own mind for not taking the same risks you did, so to make themselves appear bigger, they cut you down. Maybe they were just always unhappy and you just happen to be a random target.
Seeing Brene Brown’s video today drove home some very important points. It’s not a matter of avoiding critics or getting them to like you. Or getting them to go the hell away. Because they won’t. When one leaves, another takes their place. What I discovered is that their nasty, hateful words have a way of connecting with our deepest insecurity. In my case, it was the fear that I was truly, deep-down in the core of my being, inadequate for what I was called to do. Once I hashed that out with my Mastermind Group though, I determined that in fact, that was true. I was – and am inadequate. Few people are truly qualified for what they’re called to do, no matter how many degrees or trophies they might have.
At the core, most of us have a deep-seated fear of rejection. That’s just us being human and if you’re really honest, you’ll admit you have that fear too. So instead of wasting all our time and energy and emotion on critics, realize your fear is normal, and so are you. Then you can allow the critics to have a seat in the arena of your life, as long as it’s not a front seat. You don’t have to listen to them. You don’t have to agree with them. But you can give them a seat, knowing you have your people who truly love and accept you, even with all your fears and inadequacies. In my case, I have some wonderful people whose opinions I trust because they are safe people who truly matter to me. As for the constant critics, not so much. That’s reality. Our world is filled with hateful, bitter and jealous people, as well as loving, caring and supportive people. Some of both will show up in your life. But don’t let anyone stop you from being fully you and from doing what you’re called to do.
In my case, I’m dealing with what happened in the past so I can put it behind me. But more importantly, I’m dealing with my biggest critic – me. I’m learning to love and accept myself, flaws and all, and to show up 100% in my business and in life. Those who love me will love me and those who don’t won’t. I accept that as one of the facts of life. Now, I’ve got some important work to do. Are you with me?