We’ve heard all the cliches before. It’s about how you get back up again after you fall. It’s easy to enjoy success, but overcoming failure is where real strength stems from. Failure is a natural part of the journey. Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you
stranger stronger. But as is the usual story, it’s easy to know something somewhere in the back of your head than to actually come face to face with it and experience it first hand. After all, everyone has an illusion in their mind of how they would respond to any given situation, but you’ll never really know until you’re in it.
The situation I’m referring to in context is getting knocked off your perch. Have you ever had a moment where you felt so great about something you did or achieved and you’re getting good feedback and results, only for someone or something to really kick you to the curb? I don’t mean that in a mean way at all. I mean in a genuine and constructive way that brings you back down to earth from the clouds. You see we humans are funny creatures. Praise is like a fine chocolate. When you eat the first one, it’s delicious and makes you feel amazing. But the more of it you eat, the effects start to diminish and after a while it either puts you off or stops giving you the same feeling of happiness. Yet, when it comes to criticism, as per the teachings of basic psychology, it only takes one negative comment to really get you to reflect and feel big emotions even if on the very same day you received lots of complements or positive feedback.
Yet I feel that these moments are perhaps among the most valuable.
You see when things are going great, it’s very easy to get carried away. I’m sure you’ve experienced this even in past relationships you may have had. It really applies to anything. It truly is so easy to feel good and enjoy the ups, and be happy when people like you or what you do. But the real test of character comes during the opposite situations. Since this is a writer’s blog I’m of course having writing at the heart of it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of or feeling great about your work and what you accomplished. If you didn’t then there’s a real problem, because why work so hard for something that only makes you feel bad – or for something you can’t enjoy or feel that sense of pride in?
But there’s a constant looming danger in that pride and great feeling, especially in the face of positive feedback, and that’s the whole notion of getting carried away or believing that you’ve earned the right to be overconfident. This is natural. It happens all the time, and doesn’t make anyone a bad person. I myself have had it recently. Not so much the overconfident part as the getting carried away part. But as I mentioned earlier, what’s important is how you respond and deal with having that sense of pride or that great feeling diminished in the face of negative feedback.
Recently I did get such feedback, privately. I wasn’t brain-dead to never expect critical and even negative feedback, but as I established at the beginning it’s one thing to expect and another to experience. Now the feedback was honest, which is why I appreciated it, and there was no intent to be mean. When you face it though, you can come to realise that pride is a little bit fragile. No matter how hard you try really, seeing your hard work get criticized will hurt in some way or another. It might even disillusion you, demotivate you for a while or even upset you. But for me these are positive things. Only once you return to earth can you reaffirm that there’s so much more to learn and do to improve.
Once I got that feedback I took some time off to reflect on mistakes highlighted or areas the reader pointed out needed improving. Now, of course this is an easier task to do when feedback isn’t in massive excess like it is for anyone famous. But for now, while the people reading my work are a handful, I can focus on adhering to advice given by people who care and who are sincere. Once I got over the initial disillusion phase and really got to working with the criticism in my mind, it actually helped a great deal. Look, of course the reality is that you can’t pay attention to every piece of feedback you ever get and try to adapt all of it, since everyone will have a different opinion and you can’t really win absolutely. But you can listen to the opinions of those you trust and believe sincerely want to help, and work from there.
The bottom line is that being returned to planet earth is difficult but it certainly is necessary. You need to get trodden on sometimes to grow. You can’t always get applause or appreciation or the good times. You need to deal with the reverse side of things. And if you can do that, you’ll emerge from it all the better for it. I definitely am glad for receiving that feedback, and now a few weeks after I am once again motivated and somewhat changed for the better.
In the end the important thing is how you handle it. You can let it tear you down, or use it to build yourself back up.