I know the impact of criticism, I've known it all my life. It begins with my family who expects me to fit in, to think as they do, to do the things that they do, to remain silent because I say things they don't want to hear or read.
Sometimes the criticism is constructive, offering me a new frame of reference, pointing out a contradiction, exposing my biases and these are all valuable and important in my creative processes.
There is another kind of criticism that is less constructive. It is the kind that wants me to conform, to submit to tradition, to think inside the box. Anyone who has taken the Leadership Institute of Spokane training or Landmark training knows what I mean. It is the ability to see the larger picture than the probabilities, it is the desire to recognize possibilities beyond the usual, and it is the ability to make choices that lead to new preferabilities.
The negative effects of criticism that comes from people who do not engage in thinking in the future tense, who don't recognize that normal life is a grave with the ends kicked out, act as a millstone tied around a creative one's neck when thrown into a canal. It is an attempt to maintain and perpetuate the status quo. These attitudes become stones of granite upon which I can build stair steps to a higher plain of thinking and acting.
Creative thinking and acting presents a threat to some. What are my obligations to ease the intimidation that confronts them? Am I to squash, like a fire ant on the sidewalk, the ideas that energize me? Is it my job to protect them? Or is it their job, when they read and listen to what I say, to be aware that my opinion is as valuable as their hurt feelings. Who is responsible when feelings are hurt?
Can a mentally healthy, mature, adult human being read and hear without feeling offended? I think so! I know so! I don't agree with many ideas and actions with which I am confronted and the feelings in me are not offended, however my intelligence is sparked to the extent that I express my point of view with evidence, as clearly and concretely and specifically as I can, with confidence and competence. If I am wrong, others can offer evidence of why I am wrong. We can engage in the conflict as any mentally healthy, mature, adult human beings do.
If feelings are hurt, it is not my responsibility to stop what I say and do! It is my responsibility to listen to evidence. Reconsider my position and make changes in my thinking if evidence indicates I should. If the evidence is not there, it is my responsibility to do what I know and do best.