When does negative criticism become toxic? [Public Souvenir]

The path to any dream or goal is usually far from easy. For most of us, we understand that feedback is essential to growing our craft but that isn’t always helpful when you realize that there are some that either doesn’t understand what you’re trying to do or just flat out don’t care about what you’re trying to do. Whichever it is, their “help” isn’t helpful at all.

Now, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you can’t take criticism – if you think that someone’s just being malicious (even if it wasn’t their intent), you’re probably right. These comments can come from anyone; family, friends, peers in the field, mentors, etc. No matter where it comes from, they can stifle how you feel about your work.

Here are your telltale signs:

 Misunderstanding your work

Most times, people just won’t get where you’re coming from. It could be because of differences in opinion, taste or not understanding the craft itself. That isn’t to say that you should only share your work with those that ‘get it’ but rather understand the difference between a constructive, unbiased opinion and a person projecting their own thoughts that are only relative to what they know/like.

Some may think your ideas are too risque or maybe too plain but everything can be a stepping stone once you think you’re in the right direction. If the critique focuses more on the things you did wrong instead of advising you on ways to make your idea better then it’s not for you.

Ensure that the person is critiquing your work and not just you as a person.

Quick tip: If there’s an opinion only one person has, there’s probably a reason no one else shares that POV.

Holding you accountable for things they lack/excel at

There are those who find problems based on things they’ve never been able to master and so try to make up for it by giving criticisms based on how THEY do things. On the other hand, some critiques come from a person who believes so highly in their authority on certain matters that they shred your work to pieces for not doing things “the right way”. For those cases, you need to realize, that’s their problems, not yours.

Learn to filter out those that only want to your work become an imitation of their own.

“Cookie-Cutter Zombies”

There’s always that one person who’s ALL about the basics. Everything is “textbook” for them – Step one > Step two > Step three… If your work didn’t fit a mold then it can fit anywhere else. This type of advice isn’t gonna always help.

Don’t get me wrong; the basics are basics for a reason but they’re more of a foundation rather than blueprints. The best thing about being a creator is that you have your own unique POV and you can allow others to see through those lenses. What good is your masterpiece if it looks like “that guy’s” masterpiece?

New forms, techniques, and trends are made because people didn’t always stick to the basics. And you can do the same — or not in this case.

At the end of it all, advice is advice but you shouldn’t lose the true vision of what you want because it doesn’t please everyone. Just remember that you’re on an amazing, personal journey. You owe it to yourself (and to your work) to find companions who can get you where you need to be.


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