Last week I had the opportunity to hear the wonderful author Kasey Edwards talk. She was speaking to a group of students about criticism and how she handles the criticism that is thrown at her on a daily basis. It was quite confronting to hear about the slurs she receives regularly, from people she has never met and with whom she has never interacted.
She told of some stories about her past, about some criticism and feedback that she had received that was so hurtful that it will never be forgotten. She also told some stories of ludicrous disparagement, so outrageous that you had no other option than to just laugh out loud.
Now don’t get me wrong. As she said, criticism can, and often is constructive, but in the instances when it isn’t, when it’s just downright mean she had some good advice.
She asked us to keep in mind a couple of things when we received or were the victim of being criticised or abused in an unnecessary and hurtful way. We had to ask ourselves three particular questions.
1. Do they show up? Does the person dishing out the criticism have the intestinal fortitude to dig deep, get in there and have a go themselves? Or do they hide behind a keyboard and a computer in a dark room, throwing out insults all the while knowing that they would never show up- they would never do what the person they are criticising is attempting. They would never have ‘a go’.
2. Do they have your best interests at heart? Do you really care about them? Do they care about you? Is it your mum or dad or your partner or best mate throwing out this advice or is it someone you have never met but is judging you based on something they’ve read or a picture of you that they have seen. If so, as they say in so many Mafia movies ‘forget about them’ (Italian accent implied).
3. Do you respect them? Kasey gave this great analogy and said if JK Rowling contacted her about her writing she may, in fact, sit up and take notice, but if she doesn’t respect the person dishing the criticism then again ‘forget about them’.
After she had run through this list with the kids on a white board she handed around what looked like business cards with six numbers written on them and a space next to each number. She told the students to write down six people that they thought fitted the above criteria. I.e. 'did that person show up? Do they have your best interests at heart? Do you respect them?
I took a business card along with all the other students and I thought about the six people whose names I would write down. My parents, my husband and a couple of close girlfriends whom I knew fitted into all of the above categories were on my list of ‘I give a shit about what they think’.
She then told us that if we received unwarranted criticism, online trolling or abuse from anyone else then, you guessed it, ‘forget about it’. Don’t let it bother you. Don’t take it to heart and don’t stress over it. Those people are not important to you so why should their opinion matter or get you down. It shouldn’t. Leave them and their opinions in that dark room and hang on tight to the business card in your purse.
Clare Sultmann is a wife, mother of 3 and the founder of Dear Molly.
As a survivor of a catastrophic accident, former barrister at law, published author, and nationally accredited mediator Clare has returned to work in a different capacity. Relocating to Noosa shortly after the birth of her first child, Clare found it difficult to make meaningful and real connections with other like-minded women away from her own network of friends. With this in mind, Clare’s idea was born. Dear Molly aims to provide connections for like-minded women in a real, meaningful and positive manner. It a platform to share, communicate and inspire other women about their ‘real’ life.