16 Nov 2011, 7:24pm
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How to deal with the Fear of Criticism?

Are you afraid of criticism from your family or friends for saying or doing something that your heart is saying you to do, e.g. You want to pursue acting as a career but are fearful of critical behavior from your family, or You love someone very much but are intimidation by the fear of unfavorable response from your family.

I want to assure you that you are not alone in this fear. Most of us at some point or the other have faced this fear and stopped our inner voice. One of the biggest fears that stops us from pursuing our intuition and the voice of conscience is the fear of criticism. We feel scared of the reactions of our near ones, our family members, relatives, friends, etc. We feel ill-at-ease at the prospect of being criticized. How do we handle this fear, and pursue what we really want to do.

First thing to understand is that criticism is not always bad. In some cases, it might give you a better perspective of things so that you can make a better decision, e.g. if you want to pursue acting as a career, and if your parents say that you should not pick that up as a choice as a very few people succeed in acting and you should pick it up as a choice only if you are willing to put in that amount of effort.  This criticism is constructive as it gives you additional information and your parents’ perspective on it.

However, not all criticism is constructive. At times people around us have their own understanding of life, and agenda for our lives and they try to impose that on us, discarding our views. In that case, we need to be firm in our conviction and find a way to make them understand our view-point, e.g. if parents are adamant that you should become an engineer, whereas your heart is set on wildlife photography, then you can tell your parents that wildlife photography might give you less money than an engineer may make, but you will be satisfied, you will live your life fully by becoming a photographer.

Sometimes, it is not clear whether a criticism is constructive or not. In those cases, you can ask a question to clarify it, e.g. if your parents oppose your choice to become a wildlife photographer, than ask them why do they oppose it.

You will only be able to apply the above strategies of handling criticism effectively if you don’t take criticism to your heart.  Once we take criticism to our heart than it makes us feel hurt and we loose our calm and cant handle the situation effectively. Try not to take criticism to your heart – take a few deep breaths if your emotions start to rise, and then ask a clarifying question to see if the criticism is constructive or doesn’t have any base.

In any case, never let criticism stop you from following your passions and creating a life of your dreams. Utilize constructive criticism positively and ignore the rest. Upon some practice, you will surely be able to follow your heart, and not feel crippled by this morbid fear.

 

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