This is a follow on essay to my initial essay on handling criticism. I mentioned that criticism is a normal part of life, especially if you want to do something meaningful.
I discussed the two types of criticism, invalid criticism and valid criticism.
Invalid criticism can be ignored, and we will not discuss this further.
Valid criticism comes from individuals with the credentials, credibility, and integrity to provide meaningful insights.
I ended my last essay by stressing the importance of taking valid criticism seriously. However, I want to be clear about how to handle this kind of feedback.
The first thing to be said about handling valid criticism, which I will now refer to as criticism, is that you should not take it personally.
This is easier said than done, but you do need to remember that you are a human being. You should not expect yourself to be infallible, and there should be no surprise that you make mistakes and that there is room for improvement.
Let go of perfection and instead adopt a growth mindset.
You should be pleased that there is actionable feedback that you can use to improve next time. Instead of concerning yourself with a specific result, concern yourself with improving every time you try.
If you don’t have this mindset, time is your enemy. If you do have this mindset, time is a valuable ally.
Because as time goes on, you know that you will be better.
The Law of Compounding it on your side, you don’t need to know much mass to see how even tiny incremental improvement can create massive changes over a long period of time.
And this is the reality of making significant changes in improvements. They won’t feel like signifiacant changes. They will just feel like small improvements, repeated often.
So the strategy of thinking long-term and normalizing failure is how you can reduce the sting of criticism.
The second way to deal with criticism is to act on it. Be aware of the critiques you received the last time you faced a similar situation, and make sure not to repeat the same errors.
You can then enjoy making a whole bunch of new ones.
William B. Irvine’s book, “The Stoic Challenge,” is fantastic. It’s a captivating philosophical work that focuses on how to cope when things don’t go as planned.
Irvine provides a comprehensive overview of Stoic philosophy and how it can be applied to modern life. He also offers practical advice on how to use Stoic principles to help us live a more meaningful and fulfilling life. The book is filled with inspiring stories and thought-provoking questions that will help readers better understand Stoicism and how to apply it to their own lives.
I also highly recommend “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.” This book offers an accessible introduction to Stoicism and its core principles, such as living in accordance with nature and cultivating virtue. It also provides practical advice on how to apply Stoic principles to everyday life. For instance, readers learn how to manage anger, cope with misfortune, and find contentment.
Irvine suggests expecting things to go wrong to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. This helps to prepare mentally for failure and criticism and to make plans to reduce the risk.
I often ask myself how important a given situation will be in five years. When I look back on my life, many of the problems I was apprehensive about seem insignificant now. I have faced these problems, learned from them, and can now resolve them without a second thought. But at the time, they seemed like full-blown crises, and criticism from others felt like deep wounds.
Now, I can hardly remember what that was all about. It is very likely that some of the problems that I’m facing now I will look back on in the same manner. So why wait? Why go to all this trouble now to then forget about it later and even be able to laugh about it?
Let’s take a proactive approach and laugh at life’s surprises.
We can adopt a slightly fatalistic attitude towards more significant issues, challenges, and goals. This helps us not take ourselves too seriously and shields us from deserved and undeserved criticism. It can turn us from grumpy individuals into eternal optimists who can find a silver lining in life’s events. Instead of being frustrated when we face setbacks, we can find satisfaction in successfully tackling life’s difficulties.
Life without challenges would be meaningless. Taking risks makes life enjoyable. When you can easily get whatever you want, you no longer desire it.
I want to leave you with something to think about. We often give too much attention to how other people’s thoughts and actions affect us. It would be strange if someone else could control our bodies, but we don’t seem to worry about that when it comes to our minds.
If you were to draw a list of individuals who block you from achieving your goals, you would be at the top.