When you decide to broadcast your life publicly – on the internet and in books – it comes at a price. While most of the attention I garner is preciously positive, some of it stings like the dickens.
This is relatively new for me. Prior to launching Owning Pink in 2009, I pretty much lived under the radar, and as a model student, well-behaved doctor, and keeper of secrets, I didnít face much criticism. That all changed when I decided to live my life out loud, let my freak flag fly, and broadcast my triumphs and trials on the internet.
As it turns out, some people arenít so thrilled about having a doctor out there talking about self-healing or a professional sharing deets about her sex life or a woman ranting from rooftops about what she believes is true.† Some people would like to put a muzzle on me, send me back to managed care medicine, or strap me into an apron and ship me off to finishing school.
Some people must think that if they criticize me, maybe Iíll change how I live my life. Clearly, these people donít know me at allÖ
In the process, Iíve learned two critical lessons, without which I wouldnít be able to do what I do.
Number 1: The praise isnít personal.
When people gush about how awesome I am, how much Iíve helped them heal, what a fabulous writer I am, how Iíve inspired them, and so forth, itís really not about me. Iím just a mirror for how awesome THEY are and theyíre unduly giving me credit.
Number 2: Neither is the criticism.
Similarly, when people lash out with their razor-sharp words, I know itís not about me either. Once again, theyíre seeing something about themselves in the mirror I hold up that isnít so pretty, and instead of facing up to what they donít like about themselves, they cut me down.
When Youíre Selective About What You Believe
If you believe all the good stuff, you wind up becoming a narcissistic diva who eats only green M&Ms and insists that her silk sheets get changed daily.† And if you let the bad stuff get under your skin, youíll end up sniveling into your handkerchief until you finally pull back from putting yourself out there in order to protect your ever-thinning and bleeding skin. Itís impossible to stay grounded, compassionate, loving, and kind when youíre a demanding diva-from-hell, and itís impossible to retain a healthy sense of self-esteem if you internalize the criticism.
You canít pick and choose what you believe about what others think of you. If youíre going to be influenced by those who believe youíre the next coming of Christ, youíre also gonna have to accept that youíve got little red horns and a pitchfork. When you let others mold your opinion of yourself, youíre giving away your power and consequently dimming your own light.
So How Do You Stay Sane?
To stay sane amidst the praise and the criticism, you must tap into what I call your†Inner Pilot Light, that always sparkly, never extinguished, 100% authentic, inner healer within you who doesnít take any shit but is also your biggest fan.
Basically, I think Iím pretty cool. Sure, I have my growth edges, and Iím pretty self-aware about my weaknesses. I try to improve the parts of me that are a work in progress, but Iím also my own biggest cheerleader, I hug myself often, and I have total faith that I will always land butter side up.
Sure, when my bread feels like itís sticking to the gritty kitchen floor and picking up sand and dead flies, itís easy to let the criticism of others seep into my thin skin. Which is when I have to pick myself up, dust myself off, and flip over to show my gritty, sandy, bug-ridden, buttery face to the sun.
And when my bread is rocking and rolling with extra jelly, I have to make sure I take the chance to pirouette and cartwheel, while tuning out those who want to hoist me on a pedestal.
At the end of the day, the only person whose opinion of me really matters to me is me.
Thatís not to say I donít listen to the wisdom, guidance, and critique of those I love, trust, and call upon to keep me on track. But even then, I only allow such feedback to come inside if it passes the filter of my Inner Pilot Light and gets labeled as truth.
So how can you keep smiling amidst the criticism of others?
Next: 5 Tips for Handling Criticism
Tips For Handling Criticism
- Be careful whose opinions matter to you. If someone lashes out, consider the source. Does this person know and love you? Do they have your best interests at heart and genuinely wish you well? Might their criticism stem from jealousy or fear or the fact that you represent something that, if itís true, threatens the very bedrock of their entire existence? Unless the criticism arises from someone who has proven to be a trustworthy mentor, take it with a grain of salt.
- Know yourself enough to know what is true for you. The criticisms that sting the most are the ones we know are true but havenít managed to heal. Approach those criticisms as the diamonds they are, and let them be rocket fuel for self-healing, personal growth, and a better life.
- Ignore the Anonymous rant. Remember that the internet is a super duper easy way for people who are mad at the world and feeling powerless to dump a load of crap on you in order to try to make themselves feel better. If someone isnít ballsy enough to use their real name when they rip you a new asshole, ignore it.
- Be your biggest fan. A healthy sense of self prepares you to smile through a lot of criticism because as long as you know youíre awesome, youíll be cool as a cucumber, even amidst a firestorm. So let your Inner Pilot Light shine, baby. Know your value inside and out, and donít make it dependent on what anybody else thinks.
- Donít let fear of criticism hold you back. If youíre so busy worrying what everybody will think, youíre not going to soar to the heights of fabulousness I know youíre capable of. So distance yourself a bit. Practice non-attachment. Get a little zen about the whole thing. Pull back. Chill out. Tune out. Know whatís true for you. Rock it, sunshine!
How Do You Handle Criticism?
Tell us what you thinkÖand feel free to tell me Iím awesome or lash out with venom. It wonít bother me either way.
Humming to my own tune,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of†OwningPink.com,†Pink Medicine Revolutionary,†motivational speaker, and author of†Whatís Up Down There? Questions Youíd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about†Lissa Rankin here.