As a writer, I’ve learned to expect critique and editing of my writing. At times, I don’t agree with the comments or the edits, but I try to take a step back, get an overview of my words from the editor’s perspective, and be receptive to the editor’s changes. Often, the edits improve my work, but sometimes, they alter my slant on the subject and my “voice.” When that happens, I have to reassess whether my writing is a good fit for that outlet and if working with that editor is worth the frustration.
Perhaps you’ve encountered someone who delights in critiquing you, a person who constantly points out your flaws, mentioning negatives, but rarely positives. After a while, the person’s tweaks cause you to adjust various things about yourself in an attempt to avoid critical zingers. Without realizing it, you change who you are to please your critiquer.
A fine line exists between changing who you are because of criticism and maintaining who you essentially are even if you’re working on areas in your life that need a little polishing. We’re all blind to our own imperfections, but when someone never has anything positive to say to you, it’s time to evaluate your critiquer for his or her underlying insecurities and motivations and boldly move forward, away from negativism and criticism.
Here are some things to remember:
Critics are usually trying to self-elevate – Look closely at the ones who are your greatest critics and you’ll see insecurities or jealousy oozing out. Critics can’t stand for you to be admired or confident or have accomplished something they secretly wish they could. Critics attempt to feel better about themselves by pulling you down and climbing over the top of you. A wise woman once told me that when someone criticized her, she’d look them in the eye and simply say, “thank you.” Nothing more than that, just “thank you.” She said those two words stop a critic cold because there is no come back for being thanked. After saying “thank you,” walk away.
Avoid trying to people please – Many reasons exist for why some of us tend toward people pleasing. We want to be liked. We’re seeking acceptance. We enjoy praise or fear condemnation or anger. Whatever the reason, people pleasing is a trap. Trying to please people wastes energy and generates frustration because people are fickle. What pleases them today, doesn’t tomorrow. The only One we should be working to please is God.
Learn to distinguish between criticism and wise counsel – A few people in my life have pointed out things I didn’t want to hear, but needed to reassess and address. Initially, I was annoyed and angry, but after further consideration, and time, I realized the need for change. Wise counsel is not the same as criticism. A person who challenges you on actions, words, or attitudes in some area of your life does so out of love and concern rather than to knock you down or self-elevate.
Remember you are uniquely created – Each of us is uniquely crafted by God. We are given individual talents and gifts because God didn’t intend for us all to be exactly like each other. Discover your gifts and your calling and don’t compare yourself to others. Be receptive to wise counsel from Holy Spirit and trusted individuals. Reject unwarranted criticism. Be who you are—the person God created you to be.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)