If these people took criticism, we'd all be in a rightful mess! Learn about why people criticize each other and why you shouldn't listen.

“Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember ~ the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.”

~Zig Ziglar

Recently, I’ve been facing an incredible amount of criticism. It seems that the more accessible my work becomes, the more critics I accumulate around me.

I thought, once upon a time, that I could just live without being criticized. Now, I realize this is an illusion. Everyone who tries to do anything gets criticized. What we get to choose is how we respond to that criticism.

One of my favourite ways out of criticism anxiety is to remind myself that I’m not alone.

Everyone faces criticism. And, just because it hurts, doesn’t mean it’s valuable information. Here are some famous examples of people who (quite rightly) refused to take criticism:

  • The Beatles were rejected by record label after record label. One notable response was “guitar groups are on the way out” and “The Beatles have no future in show business.”
  • Van Gogh put up with not only verbal criticism, but also with complete shunning. He only managed to sell one painting in his entire life.
  • In her search to be published, J. K. Rowling received a letter that claimed, “Children just aren’t interested in witches and wizards anymore.”
  • Winston Churchill’s father said that Winston was “unfit for a career in law or politics.”
  • Barbara Streisand’s mother said she’d never be a singer because her voice wasn’t good enough and she’d never be pretty enough to be an actress.
  • Henry Morton, the president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, commented about Thomas Edison’s light bulb—“Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure.”
  • A modeling agency told Marilyn Monroe: “You better get secretarial work or get married.”
  • In a famous rejection letter, Rudyard Kipling was told by the San Francisco Examiner: “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”
  • Henry Ford was told that “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad.”

If those people would have listened to criticism and mistaken it for valuable information, we’d be sitting in the dark, riding on horses, and saluting the Nazis.

What will the world lose out on if you allow criticism to push you down?

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Many people die with their music still in them.”

I won’t let that be me, no matter how much the words of others hurt.

Join me.

Don’t let it be you. Sing your song. Let yourself free. Do what you know, in your heart, you must do, and let criticism pass on like dust in the wind.

It always helps me to realize that most critics are living in an inescapable web of self-judgment inside their heads. And there are so many critics around.

We face an epidemic of insecurity and shame in our culture. Most people are overflowing with their own self-loathing to the point that, any chance they get, they give some loathing to someone else.

We see this with mothers who call their daughters names like “fat” or “ugly.” Of course the mother does not mean to harm. She is only projecting her own self-hatred onto her daughter and, perhaps, seeking to protect her daughter from her plight by telling her to do a better job meeting beauty standards.

Most professional critics sit safely behind a desk, never having to risk going out courageously into the world and presenting their work to people. They deny the valor of courage in the same way that they deny their own urge to get out there into the arena and do something amazing.

The critic most likely just needs a hug, and the world needs more people who don’t listen to critics.

The world needs more people to march on bravely into the winds of adversity.

And the adversity can be so great. Everyone’s got an opinion about why I’m not good enough. I’ve been doing this work for less than a year and I’ve been called too young, too intense, or too naive. I don’t have enough education or I have too much energy.

Once, an angry man begged me to turn myself down because I was “too passionate.”

You really can’t win everyone’s approval. It’s not possible and not worth it.

Nelson Mandela showed us what can happen when a person opens himself up and allows love to penetrate his heart. He reformed to the deepest fiber of his being and stood for peace, love, and forgiveness until his last day. And still, I see people saying he was “just a terrorist.”

Someone will always hate me. Someone will always hate you. What can you do? What can I do?

Show up and be real anyway. And be careful whom we listen to.

So let’s take advice from those who love, appreciate, and understand us, those who want to see us succeed and who believe in our message. Let us accept feedback from those who have given us just as much (if not more) praise.

And everyone else?

Let’s smile politely and move on. Maybe give them a hug.

But don’t dull your light because it’s disturbing those who want to sit in the dark. Turn yourself on and be free. Only you know what you’re capable of. You’ve seen it in your daydreams.

So let’s get out there and be who we are. Let’s do it together.

Because the world needs more people to just be themselves, no matter the odds.

Famous People Who Refused To Take Criticism (And Why You Should Too!)

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8 More Comments

  • December 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm
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    An interesting article worth pondering, as it encourages persons to strive for success because it can be achieved despite the odds.

    Reply
    • December 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm
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      Thank you for sharing, Michelle! I think, also, that the odds aren’t quite so intimidating when our definitions of success match our authentic desires. Then, my own success is likely to be so wildly different from yours and, thus, I can be sure to achieve it.

      Reply
  • August 13, 2014 at 7:54 pm
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    I love this article, Vironika–particularly all the examples you provide of criticism against those who famously changed the world.

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    • August 15, 2014 at 1:06 pm
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      Thank you for reading Terry. I do find that giving myself examples of how others have dealt with what I’m facing is the best therapy. Some of my most helpful teachers, I’ve never met!

      Reply
  • September 7, 2014 at 8:18 am
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    What if such a person is someone very close to you, like a family member? I need a still better reason than the one written. I am doing my second graduation (first was in engineering and second is in law) and my dear sister doesn’t seem to like this fact, she says what I am doing is utterly useless, good for nothing. Her criticism is and has almost always been about me as a person ‘I can do no right’ kind of thing. I remain speechless when this happens. What can I say or do to shield myself? I will be under monetary debt when I complete college and have the associated mental strain of repaying it on time. Handling it will be much harder with one of my own family member trying to demolish my feeling of self esteem and self worth.I need help.

    Reply
    • September 8, 2014 at 5:08 pm
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      Dear Vidit, I’m sorry for the pain you’re experiencing with your sister. Ultimately, her actions and opinions are hers to own and yours are your own. There is a reason she’s saying these things – likely something she believes about the world and about herself. And that does not mean you should have to be exposed to it.

      The key in any human relationship is to be able to look at one another through eyes of love, acceptance, and awareness. If we cannot do so, we must communicate to the person. If that does not work, we must step away. We cannot force people to change – only ask. When asking fails, and the situation is too toxic to endure, we must do the hard thing. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is walk away.

      If you were in a room filled with smoke, how could you ask me for something to say or do to shield yourself? I could tell you to get a mask or something, but that would be temporary. What a way to live your life – in a smoke-filled room with a mask!

      You, just as much as anyone else, deserve your respect. If you are keeping yourself in a situation that hurts you, it is you who is first disrespecting yourself. Of course, this is very simple, but not easy. It’s not easy to communicate clearly and not easy to walk away if that communication is not received.

      As a little personal addition, I’ll tell you a story about my experiencing something similar. Some months ago, there was a man who was hounding me over my email list. He was a man from my past who knew me before I did what I do now and before I found The Love Mindset. He was endlessly terrorizing me with refrains of my being a faker, how much of a bitch I had been, how I’m heartless, how I’m an addicted piece of crap and always will be. I used that criticism as an opportunity to instill peace of mind, to reflect on myself and on him, to cultivate awareness. But it continued for weeks. I unsubscribed him, deleted him, and banned him from my list. We have to do what we have do to.

      Of course, it is not as easy with a family member, but it is equally simple. We must do what is respectful for ourselves. We must nourish our own self-worth if we want other people to do so as well.

      The first person responsible for loving and caring and protecting you is you. Don’t forget that. Treat yourself with the same care you’d treat your own child.

      I hope this all works out for you, Vidit. I know it will.

      Reply
      • April 25, 2015 at 11:30 pm
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        Thank you Vironika. I just remembered you today. I have got nothing but love for you. You are doing a great job. Thank you once again.

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        • April 26, 2015 at 8:07 pm
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          You are so welcome 🙂 Thank you for remembering me, Vidit, and for stopping by! Come again soon.

          Reply

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