Who’s the Bully Now?

fear, confidence, bully, friends, encouragement

The Bully on the Playground

As creatives who want to make a difference with our lives, we’re often confronted by a bully on the playground. It’s the voice that tells you you’re not worth anything and you’ll never make it. And it always shows up at the wrong time.

Bullies are the tough guys with all the attitude and put downs. Their strategy is to make you feel inadequate and look stupid in front of your peers.  He knows if he can keep you intimidated, he’s safe to continue his heinous behavior without repercussion.  

Bullying is a real problem in today’s culture. Hurtful words, name calling, and public humiliation cause depression and hopelessness.  Hundreds of thousands of suicides in young people every year are a direct result, making suicide the second leading cause of death of individuals ages 15-24.

Overcoming bullying is difficult for two main reasons.

  1. The victim feels ashamed about being the target of other’s harassment and therefore doesn’t reach out for help or intervention.  
  2. The victim starts to believe the accusations on their character are true because the constant barrage of negativity begins to influence their own thoughts about themselves.  

The Creative Bully

So, what do you do when YOU are the bully on the playground of your MIND?

Creatives each have their own personal bully inside their head. It’s Fear.  

Fear is a bully. Fear has a big mouth. Fear wants you to feel inadequate and make you think you look stupid. Fear says you have nothing to offer and you’re better off fading into the background of life. Fear says someone else is more qualified.

Fear gains control of our lives for the same reason bullying dominates the minds of susceptible young people. Shame and constant negativity.

You can do it!

The good news is that, just like bullying, fear can be overcome.  Employing a few simple tactics can help you find the support you need to keep moving forward and equip you with enough confidence to stand tall.

    1. Surround yourself with supportive people.  You know at least 2-3 people who are going to support you no matter what.  When you start hearing the negative voices in your head, get on the phone with your support group. Your supporters will be happy to walk with you through the negativity and help you build your confidence.
    2. Learn from those who are succeeding.  Someone out there is successfully doing what you want to do. Find out where they started from, what adversities they had to overcome, and what steps they took to achieve success. You’ll find out that they are just regular people who battled the bully daily but didn’t give up.
    3. DON’T GIVE UP!  Too often people give up on their dream just before it’s about to become a reality.  They feel uncomfortable and out of their comfort zone.  They allow the negative voices to convince them that the discomfort is a result of not being good enough.  When in reality, it’s normal to feel squeezed when things are about to bust wide open. Growing pains are a normal result of progress. Instead of giving in to the uneasy feelings and backing away, consider restructuring your approach to keep yourself aligned with your goals.

 

We all face negativity.  We are always our own worst critic.  Thankfully, the voice of fear is all bark and no bite. You can overcome fear by fighting negative thoughts with positive actions. Gather faithfully supportive people around you, learn from those who are succeeding, and keep moving forward.

Do these things and fear doesn’t stand a chance!

Miranda Signature

 

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The ONLY Response to Criticism You Will Ever Need

Criticism, critic, response, creative, negative, confidence

Criticism, critic, response, creative, negative, confidenceIt’s scary to put yourself and your work out there.  You’re conflicted with emotion.  You want people to see your work.  You want to share it with someone who will appreciate it.  You hope it will make a difference for someone.  But the fear of criticism is always there.  It’s enough to keep some creatives from ever taking that first step.

We’ll skip the debate on whether it’s a legitimate fear.  The feelings are real.  Period.  I can say from my own experience and from what I’ve heard from other creatives, the response to their work is, overall, very positive.  Generally, people are very encouraging and quick to compliment.

That’s not to say that the critics don’t exist.

The more you share your work, the more exposure you get.  Your audience increases and inevitably someone will have something critical to say.  It goes with the territory.  And by territory, I mean people.  Statistically, there’s one in every bunch, right?  That’s a real stat. Trust me.

Someone somewhere at sometime will question your motives, your technique, your authenticity.  It hurts.  And, unless it was a private email, it’s often public.  They might have commented on your blog or your Facebook page.  Immediately you look like a fraud.  Your biggest fear come true.  You’ve been exposed.

This is NOT the time to throw in the towel, give up, and take your crayons home.  It’s also not the time to get all defensive and start slinging mud.  Instead, consider your options.

How To Respond to the Critics

1. You can delete the comment.  

You can.  I’m not sure I’d recommend it. But it’s definitely an option.  If the comment is downright mean, full of vulgarity or obscene language, by all means, make it go away.  You don’t need that kind of trash in your life.  And it’s cluttering up your space and public image.

2. You can respond. 

I’m going to make this very easy for you.  This is what you say…

“You might be right.  I’ll consider that.”

When you say, “you might be right,” you tear down the defenses and make yourself open to the critic.  Which is precisely the opposite of what they’re expecting.  By accepting the possible merits of what they’ve said, you effectively take the wind out of their sails.

  • If the comment is made in private, aka email, you don’t have to respond right away.  However, you don’t necessarily want it hanging around in your inbox either.  Send off your canned response.  Thank them for taking the time to write.  Then delete the email.
  • Snail mail doesn’t warrant a response.  But you can if you’d like.  They won’t expect it so it’ll surprise them and awe them that you actually read their message and responded.  But again, don’t keep negative letters.
  • If the comment is public, offer this response.  It shows the rest of your audience that you’re not afraid of criticism and you’re willing to consider someone else’s opinion.  It also portrays confidence in that you’re not obligated to accept what they’ve said as truth.

Here’s what you don’t do.

BLAME THE CRITIC FOR THEIR OPINION.

Blame is a wall we use to protect ourselves.  It’s often our first line of defense.  It takes the pressure off yourself and puts it on someone else.

Bad move.

Blame starts a war of who’s right and who’s wrong rather than just accepting an opinion for what it is.  We’re all entitled to be wrong.  Did I just say that?  I mean… We’re all entitled to our opinions.

My last tip…

Don’t take criticism too seriously. 

If someone is determined to tear down your work or your character, THEY ARE NOT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE.  Don’t waste too much creative time on the naysayers.  You are sharing your creativity with the people who will appreciate it.  Those are the people that motivate you.  Not someone on a power trip.  Keep your focus on the people who love you, encourage you, and appreciate your creativity.

 

Have you had experience with public criticism to your creative work?  How did you deal with it?  Leave a comment here

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