Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

How Criticism Can Empower You

Today is Day 21 of my 31 Days of Self-Love posts to celebrate Self-Love Month with suggestions for jump-starting your own self-love and joining The Self-Love Movement™.

Few people like criticism. I sure don’t, especially when it’s about something that means a lot to me, or that I can’t change. Criticism is especially hard to take when it’s personal, like being told you need to lose weight or you’re not good at something that matters to you.

I used to be devastated by people finding fault with me. Criticism is much more potent than compliments and stays with you much longer. Ten people could tell me an outfit looked good on me but they meant nothing if ONE person didn’t like it. It would affect me for days, or much longer, staying in my subconscious file of what was wrong with me. Each negative made me feel a little worse about me, and less likely to love myself.

After all, who’d want to love someone with all those things wrong with her?

You’ll feel that way if you let other people’s  judgments rule your opinion of YOU. But judgments are just opinions and that doesn’t mean what’s being said is true. It only becomes true for you if you ALLOW it to be. When I recognized this, my self-love began to grow. Instead of owning criticism, I began to turn it around—let it motivate me to be better and own my worth more. I became determined to adopt my own belief about me. So instead of being down when someone pointed out a flaw, I began to laugh about it, knowing it would never be my truth.

For example, just when I just began to write books, a friend offered to show a sample of one to a literary agent she knew. I was excited as I believed in the book completely. But, the guy didn’t like the book. Okay, it was worse than that. He tore it apart in notes on the manuscript and told my friend to advise me to give up on writing. He declared there was no way I’d ever make it. I was just on the cusp of leaving DoorMatville—out but not quite steady on my self-esteem footing.

My friend gave me sympathy but no encouragement. I began to feel self-pity as I had to kiss my career as a writer goodbye. But I caught myself and remembered that it was only one person’s opinion and it didn’t mean I couldn’t write a good book.

Criticism is just someone’s opinion. There are often movies, music, books, etc. that I don’t like at all, maybe even despise, but they become hits and best sellers. So just because I don’t  value them, others do. It’s the same when someone criticizes you. You may not seem “good enough” in one person’s eyes but you’re still good enough in your own if you choose to believe that.  Criticism doesn’t hurt you. Believing it does. Love yourself enough to see yourself through the eyes of self-acceptance. Let criticism motivate you to be the best you can be for YOU.

After licking my wounds about what the agent said, I continued writing and read On Writing Well by William Zinsser, which really helped me to become the writer I am today. I KNEW I was a good writer, despite what the agent said and wasn’t going to let his words stop me at all! The book he tore apart was All Men Are Jerks Until Prove Otherwise. It turns 15 this year. Yes, the book the agent tore apart has been selling for 15 years and it’s about to be reissued with updates to celebrates it fifteenth anniversary in March. The book has been translated into 15 languages around the world and I’m still quoted in women’s magazines about it.

Had I listened to the agent who said I was a terrible writer, this book, and my other twelve books (with 2 more under contract) would have never been published. While I might have rationalized that the literary agent knew more than me, I chose to believe in myself instead and let his words push me to succeed instead of succumbing to failure from one person’s opinion. I love myself enough to value mine much more!

Value and love yourself enough to choose what defines you. Just because someone says you need to lose weight or you’re not smart enough to start a business or a gazillion other criticisms, they’re not true unless you believe them. As my self-love grew, so did my self-acceptance, which helped me to say to myself, “That’s not true” when someone expressed faults they saw in me. If someone says I should lose some weight, I tell them I’m fine the way I am. Use that attitude for yourself when someone puts you down. I’ve said versions of, “You’re entitled to your opinion but I have my own positive take.” Love yourself enough to let criticism motivate you to be the best you can be–for YOU!

Join The Self-Love Movement™! Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Commitment and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at Read my 2012 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.

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