How Criticism Can Help You Grow If You Let It

Disapproval seems to be the bane of many of our lives. People are scared to hear the opinion of another if it’s unfavourable (talk about picking and choosing). It has caused a great many to fall prey to giving into to an unhealthy desire to please everyone. Once someone disapproves, a fully functional and capable somebody, shrinks away into their conformity retreat. How strange? After all, no real shots have been fired – so what exactly has happened? I call it the phenomenon of the disapproval delusion.

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many people think because someone has a negative opinion about them or something they’ve done then it must be absolutely valid. This mindset is extremely limiting; it stops you from thinking objectively about your actions as unexamined emotion takes over. Feelings have their merit in certain situations, but when it comes to outcomes of your choices you have to look at things through the unalterable lens of reality. Nevertheless, if you dissect criticism carefully it has a place for your growth if you know what you’re doing and understand how to interpret it to ensure you make the most out of the priceless feedback you receive.

Here’s how criticism can develop your life:

You need it to refine your approach

Criticism is meant to refine, not define you. – Brandon A. Trean

Feedback, whether it’s good or bad, has its wonderful uses. Your intuition can criticise you and others can criticise you and we have a choice to use the criticism to propel ourselves or hold ourselves back. What we should choose is the propelling aspects of things.

As humans we have a tendency to give into our negative thoughts and lose confidence when significant people in our lives show their disapproval. Yes, we have that desire to put a smile on everyone’s face but we should be using criticism to improve our approach to things; we should use it to grow, not to please others. However, also remember that just because someone has an opinion doesn’t means it’s automatically correct; you must look at where it comes from and judge accordingly. This includes opinions of loved ones or anyone you respect. Not all criticism has the ability to help refine your life – you must always think critically.

[Tweet “Someone’s opinion of you isn’t automatically correct. – @LegacyMode”]

As a kid at school, I was told by my teachers to hold my head up high and smile more because it would make me come across as more confident and show others my happiness. I used to have people ask me what was wrong even though I was totally fine and in good spirits, but it didn’t show on my face. I don’t know if it was because of a genetic defect or my maneuvering through the troubled backstreets of London, where I grew up, to get potential troublemakers to back off that made my face look like one of Leonidas’ in the movie 300.

Fortunately, I wasn’t a stubborn child growing up. I took the advice on-board, after hearing the same thing over and over, and began to put things into practise over several years. As a result, I refined my interpersonal skills, improved my job interview performances, felt a lot more relaxed and looked more approachable.

At 9 years old, I thought my teachers’ comments were an attack on my personality, as I sat feeling ashamed in front of mother (I dreaded every parents’ evening I went to – they made me go to bed on time to avoid the post evening talk while on other days I would indulge on my Play Station through the whole night under my duvet with the apprehension that I’d get caught, good times!). Nevertheless, as I grew older I began to realise the comments were a tool for my personal development – to enhance essential traits for having meaningful interactions with others. It was for my own good to build on the qualities I already had and not for trying to impress others.

From the feedback, I also learnt that when you express yourself fully you take command of your own situations and become the alpha of your own life. People respond to you in the way you desire without you even having to ask for it.

He has a right to criticise, who has a heart to help. – Abraham Lincoln

All of this came about because of the constructive criticism I received which came from people who had my best interests at heart – these are the people who I’ll never forget because they genuinely looked out for me. Look for these people and let them help you improve the quality of your life. This kind of helpful feedback is hard to find so grab onto it while you can and GROW. When your life is full of high quality success follows you and you can inspire others.

[Tweet “Criticism is a great life refiner and teacher. – @LegacyMode”]

Criticism helps you to handle pressure

Don’t let people’s compliments go to your head, and don’t let their criticisms go to your heart. The degree to which you do either of these things is the degree to which you’ll be ruled by what other people think of you. – Lysa TerKeurst

As the saying goes, pressure builds diamonds and what’s a better way other than learning how to stand firm when criticised? The pressure criticism exposes you to will help you to become immune to the negativity which has caused many to give up. To not give in, you have to make a choice to endure the uncomfortable situations disapproval can and will put you through.

[Tweet “If you want to become strong, expose yourself to criticism. – @LegacyMode”]

There will be cuts, people will throw all kinds of insults at you, isolate you and disown you but once you get thorough the hardships of criticism you’ll display your integrity and ability to stay true to yourself. Unwarranted criticism is the enemy and you should fight it off with full force and show no mercy.

There has never been a statue erected to honour a critic. – Sibelius

You have to see unwarranted criticism for what it really is – unwarranted, with no merit whatsoever. Don’t even let them get to you. Since when did someone having an opinion about your actions and your choices make them an expert about their life. What’s funny is that many of these same people haven’t even mastered their own lives while they wallow in a life of inaction.

Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches. – Andy Warhol

This is where your challenge lies and many people have given up to chase the easy life of mediocrity and take the professional fulltime role of a complainer with an expertise in talking about how life has done them wrong, when it’s actually them giving into criticism and allowing it to take a self-inflicted and artificial hold on them. The way to cure this distressing state of affairs is to learn how to take everything you hear or see with a pinch of salt and assess them against objective reality.

[Tweet “Don’t let criticism make you give up on your dreams. – @LegacyMode”]

Constructive criticism (good criticism) also has a way of placing you in a difficult situation. It exposes whether you’re a person of honour and are wise enough to accept correction to improve and better yourself. Many of us are excessively egocentric and never want to receive reproof but this is a fine way of stabbing yourself in the back. We want to keep being ‘right’ even if it may be harmful and this is where you here: ‘I told you so, you should have listened’ (try and minimise hearing these exact words for your own good).

It’s necessary to be humble and accept when we’re wrong and there’s nothing wrong with being wrong. We’re human. Being wrong, especially about trivial matters or big matters, only has momentary consequences in order for you to learn. This is why criticism can help you to become a diamond because it forces you to question all of your actions and behaviours and face your emotions head-on. Once you have full control of these you’re then able to propel yourself internally and summon the courage to pursue the ultimate life of contentment.

[Tweet “We should all seek out constructive criticism regularly for our growth. – @LegacyMode”]

Practice makes perfect. The more you step out of your comfort zone and expose yourself to criticism the more desensitised you become to it and the more of an eye you’ll have for distinguishing between useful advice and defamatory ‘throw-in-the-bin’ advice (yes, throw it in the bin and take it to the landfill yourself).

[Tweet “Learn how to distinguish between useful advice and personal attacks. – @LegacyMode”]

Makes you accountable to your priorities and goals

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop. – Winston S. Churchill

Being reminded of your shortcomings can be painful but they keep you in line. There’s only so much we can focus on at one time. Multi-tasking or pretending you have 8 arms doesn’t cut it; the former doesn’t really exist, the latter will just tangle you up and leave you with a thermometer in your mouth. Anyway the point I’m getting at is that criticism (the good kind) will help you to avoid choices which may harm you in ways you may not be aware of (this is why we have to look out for each other and a reason why I created Legacy Means Everything). It will help you to focus on what is important because many of us, like myself from time to time, like to digress and do things which don’t bring value to our lives.

[Tweet “Criticism will help you to grow wiser and disciplined. – @LegacyMode”]

It quite easy to binge on the same episodes of Dragon Ball Z and let a deadline creep up on you, which forces you to pull unnecessary all-nighters, or stay at a mundane job which is bringing no sense of fulfilment. This can have knock-on effect of poor nutrition and eventually, in my case, hiccupping for 3 days straight while living off paracetamol (definitely not a good place to be). The problem is we indulge on these sort of things with involuntary absentmindedness and we are overcome by fun, fun and fun, unless you’ve trained yourself to have the self-discipline but this can only go so far – again we are humans prone to error.

The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. –  Norman Vincent Peale

What we need from time to time is a good kick up the backside to give us a reality check and I’m glad I have people around me who with give me just that. In a nutshell, criticism will keep you on the right path so make sure you surround yourself with the people who will do a good job of it. Criticism is some of your loved one’s best gifts to you, for your personal growth, and when you can look to people for genuine insight, regarding your behaviours, a great deal of trust will form and strengthen your relationships.

[Tweet “Sharing healthy criticism can strengthen your relationships – @LegacyMode”]


To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing. – Elbert Hubbard

Criticism can be your best friend if you let it be a source of counsel where you call the shots at what you know you need to take from it. This the beauty of criticism – it can help you to achieve your goals when applied where needed. If you let criticism take over your decisions, it will tear you down and stop you from doing what you truly believe to be a good and worthwhile contribution to society, and the lives of others, who need you to display your talents and gifts.

[Tweet “Criticism can be your best friend or your worst enemy. – @LegacyMode”]

While ignoring criticism can prove to be costly, never let criticism get the better of you. You know what you what to achieve and no-one can tell you this or how to do it – absolutely no-one. When someone disapproves of you it’s not a disaster and it doesn’t mean you should pack up and go home and never come out again. It just shows that you have something special to accomplish because the person delivering the criticism doesn’t understand why you do what you do, but you do and that is your power and greatness.

Do everything for your fulfilment and not someone else’s because this will be your downfall and has been the downfall of many literally. Many people pass away and you never hear of them again because they were too sacred to do precisely what they were born to do, just because someone opened their mouth and said: ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘what you’re doing is silly’ so they chose the easy thing: conformity.

Be wise and handle criticism carefully so you’re in complete control. Don’t let words hold you back: learn, take action, achieve and leave an unforgettable story behind – what else do we live for?

Make criticism your closest ally or it will be your arch-nemesis.

How have you used criticism to your advantage? Comment below.

If this post resonates with you why don’t you share it. Maybe the outlook of this message will inspire someone else to start living the life they were born to live.

Image credit: Disapproval / Jeremy Sternberg / Flickr

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