From time to time a student will withdraw from a class of mine (at Writer’s Digest University, http://www.writersonlineworkshops.com/) after I’ve given that person feedback to the first one or two assignments. I can’t prove why these individuals quit the class, but I suspect it’s because I wasn’t bowled over by their writing. Perhaps they felt I didn’t understand them; thus they miss something that will help them become better writers. While I do try to give positive comments along with my corrections, I’m forthright about what doesn’t work. Still, I understand: Criticism can be hard to take.
When I think back on how I learned to be a better writer, while some of that came from my own inner guidance, a great deal came from an editor marking up what I had handed in. I remember one `aha!’ in particular when an article I wrote came back with the extraneous words and phases deleted. That was helpful. I learned to be a more efficient writer.
I also learned, in time, to not react so badly to criticism in general, and to take it as a form of education, which it is. While we don’t have to accept every critical comment as actual fact, looking at negative responses and trying to evaluate their validity can be a means of improving our behavior and even changing an outlook on life for the better.
A little slap that seems justified can be a good thing and doesn’t have to be taken as a condemnation of our overall worth or personhood. In fact, the more we learn from these reactions to us, the more self-confidant we can become and the better able to withstand instruction that doesn’t fit a perhaps exaggerated notion of how we’re doing.
Help in seeing ourselves more clearly is a gift. Don’t walk out when someone tries to hand you a valuable insight. What isn’t true won’t sting and won’t stick to you. What has even a shred of truth can be a stepping stone to where you want to go.
This is a big world and others can teach us a few things.