Here are some famous examples of people who proved their critics wrong. This is why you should learn to take your critics with a grain of salt.

“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 let criticism discourage them:

  • 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 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.”
  • Barbra 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 many 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 by telling her to do a better job meeting beauty standards.

Most professional critics sit safely behind a desk, never taking the risk to share their own creative fruits with the world. They deny the valor of courage in the same way they deny their urges to get out there 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.

More than 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?

Take what’s valuable in their words, and leave the rest. 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.


12 thoughts on “Famous People Who Refused To Be Destroyed By Criticism

    1. 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.

  1. I love this article, Vironika–particularly all the examples you provide of criticism against those who famously changed the world.

    1. 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!

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  3. Hi Vironika,

    I have faced severe criticism, have been publicly shamed (by my own family), have been shunned & avoided too. This had really broken me, made me depressed & worthless. Sometimes I used to wonder whether all of it was my fault & failure mine alone? I suppose it was a bad phase. A few loved ones supported me, my wife being the foremost. Today when I have been totally crushed, I have realised my own true worth & am picking up the pieces of my shattered life & learning to live again. Have learnt to ignore these very people who have discarded me & move on.

    Your article is wonderful in its simplicity & just being positive. Thank you for sharing this & am sure will give a helpful insight to other people who are facing this hurt & unhappiness of being criticized & humiliated.

    1. Thanks so much for your honesty, Ashish. I relate deeply to what you’ve shared. I’m so proud of you for picking up the pieces and learning to love yourself. What a beautiful journey. I’m so honoured to be part of it!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *