Turn criticism to gold. How to hold your head up on the internet

[Portrait of Billie Holiday, Downbeat(?), New York, N.Y., ca. June 1946] (LOC)
Have you ever been told how important it is to alienate people? That by alienating some you attract others? And how boring doesn’t change lives, but remarkability does? And how if you’re making everyone happy, you’re doing something wrong? Etcetera.

I hear those inspiring tidbits. Or I see them scrolled across a picture of a waterfall and shared on Facebook. Then I imagine myself leading my crew of marauding misfits into the sunset with my quirky beliefs about selling used water and crystal laden hoo-ha’s.

Without hearing anything about the haters.

Let’s get this fantasy clear

It goes like this: people love me–very loudly, profusely and publicly. And the haters hate me very quietly without actually telling others or me how they feel. Should probably insert a Dr. Phil quote here “How’s that working for ya?

“An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.” –Le brilliance from my favorite internet boyfriend Seth Godin

I created a crowd-sourcing survey to choose the cover of my upcoming Coaching Business in a Box. I posted it in two Facebook groups. Both groups were full of creative and soulful women entrepreneurs, many of whom are coaches. But they were completely different personality types. One is comprised of my kind of peeps. And one isn’t.

Group A told me which they liked and why. I got a ton of responses, all positive and a lot of “It’s really beautiful.” One of my favorites: Who’s your designer? That’s me, baby. I designed it.

Group B said …just not doing it for me; sorry but the only good suggestion I have is to scrap this and start over; the images make no sense whatsoever to me. Did I mention I designed it? That made this feel so much more personal.

My heartbeat quickened. My awareness sharpened and everything around me disappeared into the background. Burning prickles grew underneath my cheekbones.

Panic. Shame. Stark raving fear.

This is what went through my mind I hate those bitches anyway; I’m a fraud; I should have known better; Fool; Everyone thinks I’m a dumbass; The whole thing is going to flop; Who do I think I am?

“Once you free yourself from the need for perfect acceptance, it’s a lot easier to launch work that matters.” Above mentioned internet boyfriend Seth Godin

This is why putting yourself out there is so freaking scary. People are going to think something about you. They’re likely to tell you, especially if you’re on the internet. Have you ever avoided putting something out there because you were afraid of something like this happening?

3 Steps to Hold Your Head Up When EVERYBODY hates you (at least it feels that way)

1. Breathe. Even though I didn’t believe them–not really, I still reacted. I had a huge fight or flight response going on. That’s what all of that heartbeat racing stuff was about. The best way out of that is to breathe and move your body. It will pass. If you don’t fight with it or try to make decisions in the middle of it, it will pass pretty quickly.

2. Get some help. Call in someone who will agree with you that those people are bitches. Or at least that you’re awesome regardless. In the middle of the panic, or soon after, is not the time to “be the bigger person” or “turn the cheek” or any of that other enlightened stuff. This is the time to let it all flow. When the initial onslaught passes, there will be plenty of time to pick your cheek up and turn it. Not at first though.

3. Look at where they’re right If someone criticizes you and it hurts your feelings, it’s because there’s a part of you that believes them. Imagine if those women had said to me I hate your green hair. I would have rolled my eyes, laughed and moved on. Because I don’t have green hair and I know it. No one will convince me that I do. I would just think they’re crazy or blind and I’d move on.

However, if someone criticizes you, there’s probably some truth to it. When you are accused of something, look at where they’re right. This does 2 things. It removes the fight which is the fastest road to peace. And it gives you good information.

In this case, what I learned from the mean girls was that A.) They’re not my people. The fact that they hate it and the other group doesn’t shows me that I shouldn’t waste my time marketing to them. B.) I also learned that I should look at some book covers I like and pay attention to the way they’re set up. That was one of the suggestions that came out of that group. Great tip.

Have you ever gone through something like this?

Or been afraid that you would?

I taught a class to support this very issue. It’s called The Brave Chick’s Guide to Putting Yourself Out There and it’s a doozy. Click here to check it out.







16 Responses to Turn criticism to gold. How to hold your head up on the internet

  1. Rebecca Pena October 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    I LOVED your article. You go girl! 😉

    • admin October 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

      Thanks Rebecca! xo

  2. An October 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    Love this, Sarah! And the green hair just made me crack up 🙂

    • admin October 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

      Thanks An! You know it’s true.

  3. Heather Thorkelson October 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Number 3 is my favourite – there’s almost always some kind of gem of insight in any criticism and to me it makes sense to take an unpleasant experience (negative feedback) and mine it for GOLD baby!

    • admin October 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

      Oh, girl. There’s always gold. xo

  4. Pam Pearson October 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Feedback is a gift! I didn’t always feel this way, but I do now. And, it isn’t always easy to hear but as you say there is usually some truth behind it. I can’t choose what the feedback is, but I can choose how I respond. That’s what I focus on today. And, thanks for the feedback!!

    • admin October 31, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      It is, It is! But my mentor taught me something so important about that. He said “honesty without kindness is brutality.” True story.

  5. Kathleen Prophet October 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    oh yessssssss this IS where you and I twin, Sarah! We know how to explore the Shadow dance, as icky and painful as it can be a first to let it in. It is amazzzzzzzzzzing what one learns from it, brilliant stuff that we can’t get any other way. Friends are way too nice and focus on all that DOES resonate… and enemies go to far with their insults but often unwittingly give us a jewel in the mix. Wow. Are we having to work this sh*t! you wudda thought that the new journey of self actualization / enlightenment was entrepreneurship! Jung is rolllllllllling over in his grave!

    • admin October 31, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

      Jung is cheering, Kathleen! Entrepreneurship surely is the path for us isn’t it?

  6. Mindy Crary | Money Coach October 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    I LOVE #2 – let it all flow, get all of that stuff out first, really feel the yuck … so many of us try to squash that initial reaction when we get criticized and move right onto being the bigger person, but you have to FEEL it all before you can authentically do that, otherwise it’s just a band aid. Great post this week!

    • admin October 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      Oh yeah! It’s the secret to the universe I think. Feel it. Feel it. Feel it. Embrace the crazy and THEN move on to enlightenment. 🙂

  7. Megan Flatt October 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    Great Post!! I am going through something like this right now. Isn’t it amazing that hundreds of people can tell you they like something and one or two haters can totally derail you, what it THAT about?!?! But I love the tip about knowing your people, turning the other cheek and taking their criticism as constructive where you can. I am going to go do that now.

  8. Tina Pruitt November 1, 2012 at 4:30 am #

    So true that we can get so off-track and take this personally…was just talking about this today with my biz accountability partner…all goes well, and BAM! One thing can knock you over. Same thing was identified in the situation we discussed….the person who did that derailment was NOT her ideal customer and it is time to just let her go. Thanks for reminding us to stay true and try to keep company with the peeps who are the tribe that get us, AND also give us honest, valuable feedback.
    xo, Tina
    ps…. Totally cracked up with “pick your cheek up and turn it”….

  9. Felicity Fields November 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    I just recently had the “putting something out there and getting shot down” piece. I asked several of my close business friends to evaluate my sales page. One, who I assumed would “get” me the most, had the most off-base things to say. At first I was really angry, and then I realized that her expertise is visuals and branding, and not how to write a sales page. After that, I was able to shake it off and laugh.

    I really loved this post – it felt like you were speaking my lingo! 🙂

  10. Suzanna November 4, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    Love love love. You, the blog, and the lessons/insights. More or less in that order 😉
    I showed a video of a Seth Godin speech to my classes this week because I was tired of feeling like I was doing all the work to make education happen and I craved some talk-back. I knew — if nothing else — he’d be provocative. And sure enough, his critique of the education “process” were quite a conversation starter! Which is all preface to this: If you care enough about your work to be willing to be criticized for it, you’ve done a good day’s work. He said that. So, I’m juxtaposing that statement with the Godin quotes above. Ha!

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