How to live through negative feedback without spontaneously combusting

Mar 2, 2022

I did a stupid thing the other day – god knows what possessed me. I mean, I know what Seth Godin says in The Practice is the truth:

“Most criticism shared in the internet age is useless, or worse, harmful. It’s useless because it often personalizes the criticism to be about the creator, not the work. And it’s useless because most critics are unskilled and ungenerous. I stopped reading my Amazon reviews seven years ago. Partly because I have never once met an author who said, “I read all of my one-star reviews and now my work is much better.”

Rule number one of publishing: do not read your reviews.

But for some reason – full moon? Low blood sugar? – I read the book reviews for Why Bother? on Goodreads.

All of them.

Especially the critical ones.

And as quick as you can say “the fast brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” I was on a Slip-and-Slide to woulda coulda shoulda land.  

I should have started the book another way… I should have made it more explicitly about creativity… I should have done more scholarly research… 

But then I STOPPED.

Closed Goodreads. Stepped away from the computer. (Which let’s be honest, is a very big win all in itself.)

I threw on my running clothes, grabbed the puppy, and off we went.

I came home and journaled about my woulda coulda shoulda. Reminded myself I wrote the most true and best book I could at the time.

Then, on an already scheduled call, I asked two wonderful friends to tell mesomething that they think I’m truly good at.

And when we hung up, I realized: I’d let the bad reviews go. Without even any nasty after taste.

(Somewhere in there I took shower, I promise.)

See, part of what can happen when you get bad reviews of your work or ideas is you can start to feel like you, as a person, are bad.

Flawed. Not good enough.

You can forget you are not your work.

You can forget your essential goodness. Your wonderful warm tender heart.

You might also forget that you did your best and you put your stuff out into the world and now it’s time to move on and make something new. Your creation has a life of its own – some people will love it, and some people not so much.

So when you encounter negative feedback, feel free to shoot a bird at haters, and then ask yourself, “Anything here I want to learn or apply that is useful going forward?”

Forget going back. Forget woulda coulda shoulda. It’s such a waste of your precious creative energy and heart.

Only forward.

Because you have so much to create.

And try asking someone in your life to tell you how wonderful you are or spend time with someone who adores you or take a three week European spa holiday (hey, we can dream!).

Negative feedback is part of trusting your brilliance and putting it out in the world. We all get  it. And none of us need ever use it to shut ourselves up.

Onward my brilliant amazing creator, onward.

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