Do you sometimes feel like the main reason you don’t get busy pursuing some of your dreams is the fear of criticism?
If so, I get it. I’m with you.
Most of my life I had a passion for writing, but what kept me from really pursuing it was the fear that if I was successful, people might criticize me. What if I couldn’t handle that?
That fear is a huge one, and it will hold you back big time. Trust me, I know. I’m 46 years old and just finding the confidence to let the world hear my voice.
But I’m doing it now. I finally stopped worrying about what people think of me.
“So what changed?” you might wonder. Here are some insights I have developed over the past few years as I have ever-so-cautiously cut loose and begun to make my voice heard.
The criticism is worse in your mind than it will be in reality. Probably FAR worse.
Most people are afraid to speak out, afraid someone might disagree with them. This includes most people who might otherwise criticize you. That’s why your worst fears about criticism will likely never be realized. It’s not going to be nearly as bad as you think.
Most people would rather tune you out entirely than keep reading/watching/listening to things they disagree with.
People have such a low tolerance for hearing/reading things they don’t like, most will simply unfriend, unfollow, block a cell number, or do whatever is easiest to get rid of the offending party. Most will follow the path of least confrontation. This means most people who choose to keep exposing themselves to your ideas will be basically in agreement with you. Or, they may disagree with you but find your ideas too captivating to ignore. This is a good thing.
Your ability to tolerate criticism will grow as your audience grows.
An extremely small percentage of your audience will disagree with you in ways that are harsh or hurtful. At least initially. When you first get started, this means you may not have to deal with any criticism at all for quite a long time. Even when you do, it will be only occasionally.
Those who support you, appreciate you, even love you, are growing far more quickly than those who dislike you and criticize you.
You will usually find yourself surrounded by supportive people, and the criticism will be easier to take because of it.
If you are blogger or in some other way the one who controls your platform, you can always ban really bitter or vulgar people.
You set the terms of the conversation on your own blog. Following the examples of Michael Hyatt and Rachel Held Evans (scroll down to the bottom), bloggers far ahead of me who I respect tremendously, here is the Comment policy on this blog.
As the one cranking out content that other people value, people already like you.
That is why they keep coming back for more of whatever you’re producing. You have nothing to prove. But people don’t know those who flame you, and don’t particularly care about their comments. They may, in fact, rush to defend you. Most likely they will simply ignore it. People realize that you can’t please everybody, and that anyone making any kind of impact is ticking off somebody. You can always delete rude comments if you want. I leave most comments from my detractors on the blog so they have to face the scrutiny of the community they have chosen to troll. Whatever the community wants to do is usually fine with me.
These lessons have taken me a long time to learn, but I am glad to be able to say that nowadays criticism hardly ever bothers me at all. Actually, the more ruthless it is, the funnier it often seems to me.
What bothers me much more, frankly, are comments from kind, intelligent people who are able to demonstrate that perhaps I was deeply wrong about something. This is always uncomfortable, but deserves to be taken seriously if the commenter is courteous. I is not being wrong itself that bothers me, it is the deep mental wrestling that some of those comments may cause. But that is part of the journey and one of the ways an artist will grow the most.
In summary, your product is your product and the people who like it, like it. By being the content creator (blogger, songwriter, whatever…), you already have the “upper hand.” You can relax, focus on your craft, and allow your detractors to do what they will do, which is ultimately point out, by their criticism, that you are one of the people out there making a big enough difference to upset a few people. Good for you.
Now go for it.