Thursday, March 31, 2016

Unhooking From Praise.

Or how to change my relationship to praise and criticism.  

Another quote popped up in front of me this week from author, Tara Mohr, "Always look at feedback as giving you information about the person or people giving the feedback, rather than information about yourself." 

We all want praise and not criticism.  But what if it's not about us, but about others?

This is definitely an idea that sets me free in so many ways.  Free from the childhood of scowling nuns.  Free from the peer pressure, career pressure, parental pressure, social status pressure and now, ageist pressure to sit out my life and retire. As I expand my life from required work to creative work, it's easy to slip into thinking I am immune to the whole praise/criticism merry-go-round.  

Maybe you are, but I'm not.  But it's not because I'm weird, but because I'm a woman.

According to author, Tara Mohr, women have a harder time getting beyond the praise/criticism trap.  "What I realized was that for most of the past few thousand years, women couldn’t ensure our safety by political, legal or financial rights — we simply didn’t have those protections. Likability, fitting in, social influence — these were women’s primary available survival strategies. For many of us, doing work or expressing ideas that might rock the boat, cause controversy, or bring others’ disapproval can feel very dangerous because, for millennia, it was. Today, we’ve got some serious unlearning to do."

Wow.  Let my learning begin.  Now.  Please.

Now I see it's not about praise=good and criticism=bad.  It's about getting a glimpse of the world through someone else's eyes.  What they say, is...only what they see.  Not what is truly there to be seen.  If someone likes my work, that tells me something about their tastes.  If someone doesn't like my work, that also tells me about their needs or preferences. My work is distinctive and original.  Doing work like that will be liked by some and disliked by others.  I don't need to do different work or change what I do.  

All I need to do is see my true target audience.  And embrace that it's not everyone out there.

A weight lifted in my heart when I read this.  Thank you, Tara Mohr. 


Terry Grant said...

Praise is is a sweet gift, but unreliable. I try to temper it with a grain of salt. People with the purest of intentions will tell you what you want to hear. Say "thanks" and move on. That said, the piece at the top of the post is really fresh and more spontaneous feeling than anything I've seen from you—really good!

Susan Gallacher-Turner said...

Wise words on accepting and handling praise, Terry. I'd say for me, it's also about learning to 'accept' it. Thanks! The clay piece pictured on the top of the post is one of my current favorites, it was so much fun to make! (And I took the photo myself, too.) Another adventure and step in the process: taking my own studio photos.