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Dealing with Criticism: Why It's Important to Confront Your Fears

constructive feedback criticism growth mental health overcoming fears personal development Oct 19, 2022

Avoiding criticism seems like a good goal. But guess what? It’s not possible. It requires perfection. If you try to avoid criticism at all costs, you will create a void in your life. You won’t grow. Doing important things requires facing criticism.

Why do we work so hard sometimes to avoid it? After all, it’s a hazard of community, relationships and life. The answer is we hear criticism with add-ons. For example, why did you load the dishwasher that way, you big bleeping dummy? I’m better than you, you big loser. If that’s our default, it doesn’t matter if FedEx, UPS or the Post Office delivers it. We get defensive of who we are, even though we created the judgment.

Everyone who is human struggles with this. I have. It’s why the dumbest fights happen, like over the best way to load the dishwasher. 

This idea impacts us as athletes. Some try to impress everyone and disappoint no one, whether it’s coaches, teammates or scouts. It can’t be done. Each has different views of the kind of player they want on their team.

I learned the hard way that trying to please everyone and avoiding criticism pleases no one. I thought I could and should. A chase for approval and love ensued. Here’s the hard part –  you can’t make someone. They have to choose to. The fact is that someone somewhere thinks you’re a big deal because they have their own fears. You can only confront yours.

How? Drop the add ons. Listen for constructive adjustments. Self-assess. Does their different perspective change me or the value I add to the world? What do they need from me right now? Have I demonstrated a willingness to accept feedback? Do I demonstrate the courage and strength it takes to change? If the answer to both is yes, criticism is the compliment.

Failing to ask these questions risks confusing accepting influence with getting walked over. The result is we often clear up the confusion with aggression, and we believe we are just standing up for ourselves. Be aware of your add-ons. Drop them, so you don’t have to defend yourself.  Instead, you can problem-solve and be more mentally fit.

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