Criticism and Praise

Tara Mohr is an insightful, wise woman. She teaches women how to play big in their lives. It was while I was taking her Playing Big course that I took a “leap.” That leap was my application video for TEDxBellingham. Which was accepted. Which led to one of the highlights of my life. In her Playing Big program, Tara talks about key issues that help women play bigger. As I near the release of my book, I need to remember what she teaches about our attachments to criticism and to praise (to read more about this, check out her article in the NY Times from a few weeks ago here).

When my manuscript received a scathing review last spring by a potential endorser, I was crushed. But I had to pick myself back up and move forward. I had to remember that the review was not about me as a person, it wasn’t even about my story. The criticism was about my writing. I had to take a step back and remember that.

What I like about Tara’s discussion about criticism and praise is that she encourages us to take that same step back from praise. I haven’t been taught that before. My goal has always been to get praise from people and, in doing so, feeling valued, worthy and correct. This is how we are culturalized. It’s very natural for us—especially women—to want, even need, praise in order to feel worthy. And that’s because we believe what people are telling us. We believe their criticism and then feel like crap. We believe their praise and then feel awesome! I see now how that dependence on other’s opinions doesn’t serve me.

My book is not intended for everyone to read nor will it resonate with everyone. If people don’t like my book, their criticism doesn’t reflect on my value and worth as a human being. If people do like my book, their praise doesn’t reflect on my value and worth as a human being.

As I stand at this threshold of my book’s release, I need to remember that I didn’t write my book to be criticized or praised. I wrote my book to connect. I wrote my book to share not just my story, but THE story, the story we all have about forgiveness, acceptance, reliance and overcoming adversity.

So my challenge, once the book comes out and people start reading it, is to avoid being buoyed by praise and deflated by criticism. I don’t want my value and worth to be dependent on what others think of the 75,000 words I wrote.


How attached are you to people’s praise? How about their criticism? What would happen if you stood firmly in your own power and self-knowing and allowed the praise and criticisms to flow over you?