Being a blogger, I’ve dealt with my share of critics—it comes with the job description.
But this was the first time I was aware of being the target of so much slamming, by so many people, all at once.
I felt the sting for about a minute and fifty-seven seconds, quickly remembered that having these haters is actually a good thing, made a mental note to get a blog post out of it, and went about my day.
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
There will always be people who wanna step on you so they themselves can appear to be a little bit taller.
They’ll condemn you, your work and your success so they can feel the short-lived rush of the ego boost kicking in.
They try to tear you down seeking the addictive high of false superiority.
They flaunt their crown of imaginary authority on all things good and bad. All so they can feel a smidge better about their own meager existence.
They find offense in the fact that you aren’t marching in line like a good little soldier of conformity with the rest of the nearsighted disciples of the status quo.
They live a life a banality and mediocrity, and anyone who steps outta line gets shit for it.
When you walk a bold path, put yourself out there or just do things your own way, you’re gonna piss some people off.
They’re not actually pissed at you, they’re pissed at themselves for their inability to live a life that has meaning. It’s just easier to lob their anger your way, than it is for them to own it.
“Haters don’t really hate you, they hate themselves; because you’re a reflection of what they wish to be”
Even if you’re as awesome as Mother Teresa and doing nothing but giving from your heart and doing good-pure-altruistic-things, some people are gonna wanna give you shit for it. And the more impact you’re making on this world, the more shit they’re gonna give you.
They hope that that by putting you down, they can suck out a little bit of your awesomeness for themselves. They’re like Daniel Day-Lewis in the end of P.T. Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood”, where he goes “I drink your milkshake!”
Except critics and haters don’t actually get to drink our fucking milkshake—No matter how hard they suck. (Pun intended)
All they’re doing is sucking out their own ability to do great things.
And today, they can trash you all they want without having to say it to your face or risk running into you in person. They do it under anonymous usernames in forums thousands of miles away from the comfort of their couch—which most likely is where they spend a great deal of their time.
Like Jamie Kennedy says in his documentary Heckler “The internet is the equivalent to putting something on a bathroom wall, anyone can put up anything”
But it’s not just on the internet.
It can come from coworkers, cynical family members, jealous friends or just about anyone who doesn’t take responsibility for their own success, happiness and life.
“Have you ever met a child who wanted to grow up to be a critic?”
Let’s face it, it’s easier to criticize than it is to create.
It just easier to say “Hey, look at that guy over there with the small dick” than it is to deal one’s own inadequacies.
Your success reminds them of their non-success. Your happiness shines a light on their misery. Your greatness offends their normality.
They see you doing something they don’t think they can do or aren’t willing to put forth the effort to do, so they condemn you for doing it.
And the more you’re out there living on the edge, doing cool shit and making a difference; the more they’ll wanna pull you down to their level—the lowlands of regret, complacency and blame.
“Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.”
Fulton J. Sheen
Remember the big punk scene in the 80’s?
What started as a movement of non-conformity for those who didn’t fit in, ended up being a finger-pointing-orgy of know-it-alls with their own dogma to conform to.
Just to be clear I’m not talking about all punkers here, I’m just talking about a lot of ‘em.
While they wanted to give off the impression that they were different from everyone else, in actuality a great deal of ‘em ended up becoming just a group of bitter elitists who all looked the same.
For example, just because the members of Black Flag—by far one of the greatest punk bands of all time—had long hair, countless punkers said Black Flag sucked and wasn’t punk enough. They didn’t look punk, they didn’t dress punk, and none of them had spiky mohawks caked in Dippity Doo. So people gave ‘em shit.
Didn’t matter what their music sounded like—since they wore their hair long and dressed pretty normal, they were criticized for it… a lot.
They did their own thing and took a ton of shit for it.
I don’t know where all those elitist punkers are today, but I do know that Black Flag left a mark that’s here to stay. To this day kids still wear Black Flag shirts, get the Flag tattoo with the four black bars drilled into their flesh-suit, and crank Black Flag tunes on full blast. Just like my generation did with the mighty Led Zeppelin that had rocked the world a generation earlier.
And guess where I got the idea for the “Rise Above” tattoo on my arm? … From an old Black Flag song.
Now I gotta admit that I’ve done my fair share of hating as well…
In my teens and early 20’s I ran with a group of guys who were heavily into black metal, thrash metal (which I still love) and death metal. In our opinion, if a piece of music wasn’t blaring, angry, hateful and evil, it sucked. And everyone who liked it sucked.
Didn’t matter that we were hooked on meth, had little options in the way of girls, were broke, ugly, and couldn’t get our shit together for the life of us. We couldn’t deal with looking at our own mess-of-a-life, so we looked at everyone else’s and spewed-out a non-stop barrage of constant criticism, insulting remarks and bitter put-downs.
Everything and everybody sucked. And we rode that wave of false superiority as far is it would take us. Which wasn’t very far.
We used to hassle my younger brother Jeff for being a nerd—Something I used to give him sooo much shit for.
But guess what?
Today Jeff is “Head of Business Operations” for Facebook, has a wonderful family and lives a balanced and happy life. And before Facebook he was “Executive Vice President of Business Administration” for Yahoo.
When Jeff was doing homework, I was dropping acid (and anything else I could get my hands on). When he was graduating high school “Most Likely to Succeed,” I was going to rehab. When he was going to college, I was going to jail. When he… well, you get the point.
The dude was paying his dues and I found it easier to give him a hard time for it than paying my own.
“100% of haters are unrealized potential”
Criticizing others is a trait I carried with me for years.
I used to put down just about anything and everything I could get my judgmental little hands on. My radar for finding faults in others was set on ten.
It was just easier to look at someone else and tear them down, than it was to take a long hard look at myself, take responsibility for my life, and get busy making things better.
When I got sober at age 30 I stopped it for the most part. But after the better part of a decade clean I had a pretty bad relapse that lasted about a year.
During this year I was making horrible choices, my life was a mess and I was a train-wreck 24/7. The perfect environment to revert back to my old faithful crutch of putting people down instead of addressing the issues in my own life.
My constant criticism of the world around me and those who resided in it was just a straight-up manifestation of my own anger at myself for allowing my life to turn out the way it had and my unwillingness to do anything to fix it.
Fortunately, I ended up kicking my own ass so bad that I knew I couldn’t go on the way I was. I dropped the steady regimen of heavy narcotics, along with a whole bunch of other negative habits—including the majority of the criticism—and set out to make things better.
Does this post criticize those who make a habit of criticizing others?
Guilty as charged.
But if you’ll notice above I said I dropped the “majority” of the criticism—the word “all” is nowhere to be found in that sentence. That would take some kind of perfection I have yet to master. Hell I’m so far from perfect you could get to Mars on a moped before I arrive at perfection.
But who doesn’t have a few shit stains on their hands from behaving like judgmental little monkeys and throwing a few good turd balls once in a while?
We’ve all stoned plenty of people from behind the gates of our own glass houses.
Who hasn’t enjoyed being the distributor of some juicy bits of gossip now and again? I know I have.
However, if you’re reading this post, I trust you’re an evolving person and at a point in your life where you just don’t have time for making a habit of cutting people down—because most likely you’re out there doing good shit.
But some people haven’t grown through it yet—and maybe never will— and always seem to be on the hunt for someone to throw into the fire of judgement.
“A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep.”
People who lead reasonably happy lives rarely put others down.
Sure, they may offer constructive input when they feel it can help someone, but they don’t take judgmental shots at people, looking for some perverted form of self-aggrandizement.
When you’re living on purpose, you don’t give two shit’s and a nickel about what other people say or do. In fact, you wanna see em’ succeed. You tend to notice their good qualities and wanna tell them about it.
You get juiced by lifting others up, not putting ‘em down.
When you catch yourself criticizing others, look for what it is about them that’s causing you to want to criticize them. Own it. Like the saying goes, when you point the finger at someone, you’ve got three fingers pointing back at yourself.
So while it’s obviously not good to criticize, it is great to get criticized.
When people try to bring you down, sabotage your efforts and criticize your abilities, good. Keep moving forward.
If you doubt yourself, good. Keep moving forward.
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
Being criticized comes with the job description of “doing great shit” or even just “doing your own thing”
No one else needs to feel what you’re doing is important, as long as you feel it’s important.
When you’re doing something you love doing, what other people say won’t matter.
The more you trudge your own road of happy destiny, the more the critics, haters and naysayers will feel they’re entitled to give you some sort of unwanted input about the status of the road your on.
Whether it’s a friend telling you they don’t think you can accomplish the amazing and challenging thing you’re setting out to do…
… Or a coworker or boss telling you that you should keep your cozy little job because it’s a bad economy out there—so the last thing you wanna go do is go start that dream business you’ve been talking about.
Or a group of guys at the gym laughing at you cuz you’re too fat, too skinny or don’t bench enough.
Or just some troll on the internet trying to feel that their existence actually matters by trying to take a little from yours.
Sometimes their words may sting, but this is where you’ll need to look yourself in the eye and ask “what the fuck am I all about?”
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Plain and simply most people aren’t willing to do what it takes to get what they want in life. So they point out the flaws they see in those who are doing what they want in life.
While they think it hurts you and makes them look good, it’s actually just a big-bright-flashing-sign that you’re that you’re on the right path.
“It’s easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It’s a lot more difficult to perform one.”
If you’re facing criticism in your life, be grateful for it. It means your not just standing around waiting for marching orders with the rest of ‘em.
If you have self-doubt screaming in your right ear and critics screaming in your left ear, you’re probably on the right track.
If you don’t wanna be criticized, take refuge on the couch and watch TV. You probably won’t have to deal with any criticism at all besides that of your spouse for being a lazy asshole.
You won’t have to face any self-doubt either. It’s not like your mind is gonna tell you you’re not good enough at changing the fucking channels.
Don’t hate the people who criticize you. That resentment is the exact reaction they’re trying to get outta you.
It’s like if someone tried to hand you a cup of piss. You don’t have to drink it. Just ignore them. That way you can go on about your day and they’re stuck holding a cup of stinky yellow stuff that no one wants.
Forgive them, realize the power, and move on. Forgiving them isn’t for them anyway. It’s for you.
And since we’re all in this thing together, trying to figure out how to make this crazy thing called “life” work—connected in one big bowl of quantum soup—cut ‘em a little slack and lead by example.
The best response to criticism is to just keep doing your thing. And doing it fucking well.
“I learned a long time ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
George Bernard Shaw
Your default reply to the haters should be your undying commitment to your path.
What others think and say is their business.
What you think and say is your business.
If you’re doing something you love and believe in, yours is the only opinion that matters.
I thank all my critics for reminding me that I’m doing good things, to keep moving forward, and for giving me something to write about today.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
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“The secret to success is to offend the greatest number of people”
George Bernard Shaw
P.S. I love they way one of my all time favorite comedians, the Late Great Bill Hicks, dealt with this Heckler
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