Why you should (mostly) ignore your critics
WHEN I said I was going to be a journalist one day, I was told that I was foolish and that it was NEVER going to happen.
But yet it did.
When I signed up to a modelling agency at 18 but didn’t quite make the cut, I was told that particular ambition was probably over.
Only for me to become a cover girl in my thirties.
When I left my job to go freelance with no work or clients lined up, some people thought I’d lost the plot.
But yet here I still am. Nearly five years on.
There have been many occasions in my life when I have gone against the grain and achieved success even though some people have disagreed with my choices. Even when some doors I desperately wanted to open, have been firmly locked and bolted.
I’ve been stupid. I’ve been a failure. A reckless dreamer. And a snob.
(All other people’s words, not mine.)
I’ve been criticised, laughed at, mocked and despised.
People have frowned. People have been angry. And one person even told me I would never account to much.
We all come across criticism in our lives.
People just love to have opinions about us don’t they? About what we should be doing and how much we can achieve. But who really makes up the rules here?
Them? Or you?
Who gets to decide what you lend your hand to?
Your critics? Or you?
Who do you listen to, in those dark moments, when you wake up in the middle of the night and are haunted by your dreams?
Them? Or you?
There’s a fine line between advice and criticism. Between opinion and knowledge and many people over step it, frequently too.
Granted some people may be unaware of their actions or make their opinions with your best interests at heart, but that still doesn’t mean you have to listen or accept what they say.
Even if it comes from people you respect.
Even it comes from your most nearest and dearest.
A few weeks ago I was chatting to my Mum about my Grandad who had suffered a severe stroke some years before he passed away and she mentioned how when the stroke had first happened, he was pretty positive about the whole thing.
How he would do his exercises every day and make a great effort to speak and communicate.
“If he wanted a cup of tea,” my Mum said, “I would always try to get him to ask for one and he would, he would always make an effort.”
And then came the bombshell. The part of the story which changed everything;
“Then one day he went to the hospital for a check up and the Doctor said to your Gran, right there in front of him, that the small progress he had made, was probably as far as he would go and that was that. From that day on, he just stopped trying and gave up.”
He gave up.
My proud Grandad who had worked on planes in WW2, travelled to Africa, cycled across Somerset, fixed people’s cars for nothing (because he was too kind and generous to ask for money) and had the most wondrous and intelligent brain, had given up.
And all because he had heard those words. Uttered by his critic, an ‘expert’ in a white coat with a fancy degree.
I’m crying a little writing this now and I cried when my mum told me this too.
Because those words, changed my Grandad, killed his spirit and ruined his final years.
Because the doctor made the mistake of thinking he knew everything about him and what people are capable of achieving and yet he could never have known that. Not for definite. Not for sure.
And, because my Grandad took someone else’s words and opinion as the truth. As his truth and so stopped trying.
But what if he hadn’t listened? What if he hadn’t believed his critic? What then?
Who knows how different his final days might have been.
So you see, you’ve got to be careful when you come across a critic. You’ve got to choose what you listen to and give attention to, if indeed, anything at all.
Because people are not always right.
Because people do not necessarily know what is best for you.
Because the only person who can know what you are truly capable of, is YOU.
You must be choosy, listen with a pinch of salt and pick any comments – that you wish to consider – wisely.
Or just do as I do and let their opinions fire your soul up into action, replying to any criticism, to any critic, with the simple words…
“We. Will. See.”
(Grandad, this one is for you. x)
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