Criticism can be a great tool to improving our skills and strengthening our weak points. Now I’m not talking about the “critics” that comment on your stuff with “your art sucks” or “you’re a terrible writer”. I’m referring to constructive criticism, where someone sees something that looks off or needs fixing- or sees something you can improve on. For some of us, critiques can feel like a stab in the gut to our self-esteem.
Even when its structured as constructive as possible, it can still hurt initially to hear we did something wrong on something we worked so hard on. That doesn’t mean we should shun any critiques on our works however, as it isn’t inherently a bad thing and we will encounter it constantly in our day to day lives. But how can we see the good in criticism when it hits us so personally?
Take a Breather
Whenever criticism makes you feel bad, it’s ok to take a step back or hold off from responding. If you need to cry a bit, go for a short walk, or talk it out with a friend, do that. Whatever you need to help your logicality and emotions get realigned so you can think clearly again. Because when you’re feeling very strongly about what someone said about your work, it can be hard to process it in a different, possibly positive light.
Redirect How You Interpret Criticism
While critiques can still base from opinions, the person’s intentions are to be helpful in order to give you another perspective. Even if its blunt or said with a rude tone of voice, you can't control how other people give criticism, only how you respond to it. Therefore, instead of thinking that the person is telling you what you did wrong, think of it as they’re telling you what you can do better. They’re telling you where you need to improve because they believe you can do it and they know you have great potential. If they really thought you were a failure, they wouldn’t bother to tell you anything. They want to see you get even better than you already are and see you grow into an incredible artisan of your trade. This really helps me redirect any negativity I once saw from a critique into a positive “heck yeah, I can do this!”
This is particularly helpful when you have to deal with criticism from authority figures consistently and at higher costs, such as employers or teachers where there can be consequences if you never act upon what they tell you to change. You can look at it in a positive light and work with it for the better for your job or your grades.
Criticism is Up to You to Take
In most cases, you have the power to take the criticism or to leave it. Whether that's criticism from family members, friends, or strangers on the internet. You can decide if you want to try out what they said, or ignore it. You can even attempt to change what they advised and if you end up not liking it, then go back to what you did before. Or maybe your project will look even better with their suggestion! It's up to you what you want to do with it. And remember that one person’s perspective on your creation does not equal it’s worth. Good and bad are subjective terms that vary on definition from person to person, so it's not worth worrying about too much.
Criticism can be an awesome guide in figuring out how we can become better in any facet of our lives, even if we take it personally. Our emotions do not have to control us when we know how to take what once was an attack, into a helpful and encouraging gesture :)
If you also struggle with handling criticism, feel free to share your thoughts and methods you’ve used to accept it down in the comments below !
Writing and Drawings done by Katharine