Does is scare you to open yourself up to criticism? I’m always afraid of presenting my creative ideas and offerings to others because of the fear of rejection. However, if the Lord gave me an ability to be out there in the open and evaluated by others, no matter how good I try to make it, I know I will experience criticism. When my writing is rejected or condemned by others, or when someone wants to offer advice to improve the look of one of my paintings, I’ve learned that reacting positively makes hearing the negative side of feedback a lot easier to bear. Not only does it mature you as a person, but it actually helps improve your next project. Therefore, I’ve learned three steps to reacting positively to criticism.
First of all, in the beginning, I allow myself to experience the negative emotions that come with rejection … but only for a short time. Wallowing in self-pity is not productive, even briefly. However, we do need time to allow the initial hurt to pass.
Secondly, I try to evaluate the negative remarks to see if what the person said could be true. Did I make a fatal mistake in the plot of my story to make it unbelievable? Were my characters really shallow or too perfect? I can gain valuable information from advice if I open up to the possibilities. Sometimes I discuss the negative comments with a friend, and their insight is often enlightening. If there are no suggestions in the remarks … simply criticisms … then I move on to the next step.
Thirdly, I try to forget the past and move on ahead … let it go. I have a gut-reaction to give up and never touch the paint brush or the next book project I’m working on again … but only for a short time. Having a positive attitude works wonders on your self-esteem. And, if I temporarily drop what I’m doing, move on to another project for a short time, and come back when I’m in better spirits, I find the future for my writing or painting seems brighter.
What about you? Accepting criticism is hard for all of us, but God offers wisdom for reacting to those negative comments with the right attitude: “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase learning.” Prov. 9: 8, 9