But Then Criticism And Praise Mean The Same

In order to properly handle criticism, you also need to properly handle praise. If someone excessively flatters you for a minor success, you need to internalize it the same way you would internalize a scathing insult.

Aug. 27, 2017, 3:11 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL.11, NO.03,August 25, 2017 (Bhadra 09,2074)

If you do anything unique, people will attack you for it. Self-motivation depends on having a thick skin, persisting in spite of criticism. But  the ability to not let praise consume you is equally important because praise and criticism are just reflections of each other.

In order to properly handle criticism, you also need to properly handle praise. If someone excessively flatters you for a minor success, you need to internalize it the same way you would internalize a scathing insult. The person that is easily flattered is also easily criticized.

Ultimately only you can steer your life. If you allow yourself to be misled by attacks or flattery, you won't reach your destination.

If someone congratulates you, by all means, thank them. Enjoy the fruits of your success. But if you fully embrace every piece of praise you receive, you open yourself to becoming overconfident. Additionally, since praise and criticism are equal partners, when you accept all praise without a thought, you expose yourself to criticism.

Internalizing praise can lower your motivation to work hard just as much as criticism. While some minor critiques encourage improvement, excessive flattery promotes laziness. Instead of working hard to constantly improve, it is just easier to rest and enjoy the congratulations of people around you.

The solution, both to prevent the excesses of praise and the humiliation of criticism is to stop caring what other people think of you. Take what is actionable from their feedback and ignore the rest. Since you are the sole captain of your life, don’t allow others to steer the ship.

For praise, I take a similar approach. I thank the person for their comment, and see if there is anything actionable from their suggestion. What I strive not to do, with both praise and criticism, is to let it get under my skin. Similarly, if I get a piece of praise, I will remind myself that this is just one view, and not to let it distract me from the bigger goal.

Far more important than praise and criticism is what you think of yourself. I don’t care if I am receiving thousands of words of praise or attacks, if I know that what I am doing doesn’t reflect my true goals or values, I won't be happy. Start caring about what you think of yourself, because you are the one that has to look in the mirror each day.

Listening to yourself first isn’t arrogant. You are the only person that intimately understands your goals and values. You are the one who set the goals in the first place. So how can you expect other people, with different motives, to give you the ideal feedback to move forward?

Other people can offer great advice, but the emotional impact of praise and criticism should come from yourself. Other people can offer actionable suggestions, but they can't be the judge of your self worth.

The ideal state of mind is humble confidence. You are humble because you accept all feedback, searching for actionable suggestions, open to any opportunity. You are confident because you won't allow emotional praise or criticism to distract you from your goals.

In practice, it is impossible to maintain this state perfectly. I am human like everyone else, so when I am insulted, I feel bad . When I am praised, I  feel happy. Those instincts won't go away.

However, if you accept those first impressions, but don’t let them gnaw at your conscious self-image, you have succeeded. You can feel hurt from an insult, but you can evaluate the attack and prevent it  from wounding you. This is similar to the stoic idea that nothing is good or bad, except in the mind. You may be forced to have a first impression from criticism or flattery, but you can then re-evaluate that so that it doesn’t distract you from your goals.

If people praise you, thank them and focus on your goal. If people criticize you, thank them and focus on your goal. Because, in the end, you are the one who has to judge yourself and live with it.  

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