Thursday, May 30, 2013

Are You Immune to Criticism?

My husband Lee and I expanded our garden this spring because we relish the flavor and nutrition in the vegetables we grow ourselves. Lee has been reading about square-foot gardening, so I was intrigued when I saw the photo above. And then I noticed that this garden is in the FRONT yard. I started wondering how many neighbors – or others who drive by – might criticize this effort since it doesn't adhere to the typical “manicured” lawn that many people aspire to.

That made me think about what it takes to develop a “thick skin” so you don’t let yourself get bothered or deterred by negative things others might say about you. A case in point…

I know someone who took his martial arts business from near-bankruptcy to a multi-million dollar company in just a few years. Today he coaches hundreds of entrepreneurs on how to build a strong business. As I've studied his journey to financial success, the thing that impressed me the most was his immunity to criticism. This is a guy who has a deep, unwavering belief in himself and the value he brings to the world. So he’s never let someone else’s disapproval get him down or keep him from moving towards his goals.

It’s not easy to build and maintain this level of self-esteem. Most of us were raised to seek approval and acceptance. We want others to like us, so we often modify our behavior to please them and not ourselves. The fear of rejection can drive us to do things just to try and make someone else happy.

But if you take the desire for acceptance too far, you can sacrifice your own needs and rights. When you lack a strong sense of your own worth, you’ll look to others to validate that you’re worthy. You won’t have confidence in your opinion of yourself.

The key is to truly appreciate your unique value and develop an unshakable belief in yourself. When you hold yourself in high regard, you won’t let critical comments from others disturb you. You may listen to their words, and you may even give them serious thought, but they won’t affect the way you see yourself, because you trust your own opinion of yourself even more.

The more you work on liking and accepting yourself, the stronger you become. And the more you’ll experience the benefits described so eloquently by psychologist Nathaniel Branden:

"As you grow in self-esteem, your face, manner, way of talking and moving will tend naturally to project the pleasure you take in being alive."

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