How to Deal with Criticism

There are basically two types of criticism: the kind that comes from someone who truly cares about you and who wants what’s best for you and the kind that comes from someone who doesn’t care at all about you and who wants nothing more than to tear you down. Please, before you get too far along on the path of a creative career, get very good at knowing the difference. It’ll save your creative spirit from a lot of heartache.

When someone who truly cares about you criticizes you, focus on his or her intention. The intention is to make you a better person. The intention is to help you improve. The intention is to lift you up, ultimately (even if the sting of the words doesn’t make you feel that way, at first).

When someone who cares nothing about you criticizes you, focus on his or her words. Here’s why: If you think about the intention, it hurts! Mission accomplished! The a-hole who’s attacking you has won, because you’ve let his or her desire to tear you down take root in your heart. But if you focus instead on the words, it becomes really simple. You’re able to see the words and objectively say, “These words were meant to hurt me. They were chosen for no reason other than to tear me down. They’re just WORDS. They have no power. Because they’re simply not true.”

See, someone who wants you to succeed may criticize you — think about the last time your acting coach pushed you really hard, maybe even yelled at you, and worked to get you outside of your comfort zone — but their intention is to empower you. When someone’s intention is to hurt you? Those words are just nonsense.

Whenever I receive ridiculous, hurtful criticism from someone who is certainly not invested in my ultimate success or happiness, I say (in my head) to the meanie, “There are THREE THINGS I really don’t care about: you, what you think about me, and how you hope I feel about what you think about me.”

Because people who feel the need to criticize from a place of cruelty (and not from a place of empowerment and improvement) *really* want you to feel a certain way about how their words have affected you. Bullying, hate speech, all of that nonsense is designed to have an impact. Fun fact: You get to choose whether or not you feel *anything* about the words. Your feelings are up to YOU, not the haters.

Ah, such bliss!

Please remember, if you’ve gotten into a loop where you’re really floored by criticism — which you’ll *always* receive, just for having chosen a career that takes place in the public eye — that you get to choose how you feel. There is not enough hate you can throw at a situation to change the person who hurt you, but there is enough love you can throw at a situation to change how you feel about it.

How wonderful! You know I’m all about breaking down what we — as creatives — can control and releasing what we cannot. We can’t control that we will be criticized. So, begin building the muscle for knowing the difference between criticism designed to build you up and criticism designed to tear you down. Only one of these things deserves even an ounce of your attention.


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001896.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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