How to deal with negative critics

… and avoid discouragement

To illustrate this, allow me to use the story of the tiny frog. It goes like this:

Once upon a time, a team of tiny frogs organized a competition aiming at reaching the top of a tower. When they were ready, a massive crowd of frogs assembled to watch the race.

And the race started. Not a single frog in the spectating crowd believed that the competitors would reach the top; it was a tall tower! 

The crowd increased as well as the noise. One frog yelled after another, “This is too difficult!.’’ “No one will ever make it to the top.” “There isn’t a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!” They continued with the noise.

The tiny frogs disengaged one by one and fell down the tower. Still, there was a team of determined frogs that climbed higher and higher. But the crowd yelled the more.

“This is too difficult! No one will make it!”

Discouraged and persuaded by the negative noises, more of these tiny frogs collapsed and fell off the tower. Several frogs who were still climbing cried in pain and ultimately gave up. Some frogs, exhausted and bruised, heard the groans of their colleagues and subsequently resigned too.

Yet, despite all this, one tiny frog persisted. He climbed, and climbed… This tiny frog seemed to be endowed with some esoteric strength that enabled him to move forward despite others quitting. The crowd wondered why this particular frog remained when others were falling.

By now, all the tiny frogs had either collapsed or given up — except for that particular tiny frog. The crowd continued to yell at it:

“This is too difficult!’’ “You will never make it to the top!” “Not a likelihood that you will succeed. The tower is too high!”

But for some reason, that tiny frog climbed further and further, seemingly undaunted. Finally, he reached the pinnacle of the tower. He had touched the finish line!

All the tiny frogs were astonished at how this one tiny frog managed to make it to the top. They thronged around him, in a bid to know his secret.

To their further astonishment, it turned out that he was deaf.

We can glean a great lesson from this story. Sometimes when we’re pursuing our goals, or when we start a new thing — project, studies, business, relationship … we tend to face discouragement from prophets of doom. They will yell at us incessantly …

“No, you cannot accomplish this!” “Oh, this isn’t possible!” “My friend, are you crazy? You are never going to succeed.”

Sometimes, we may have climbed our mountain halfway but we face brutal critics who pull us down to the very bottom; and cut our feet so we can’t make any forward progress.

“Who do you think you are?” “Wait until you mature.” “You’re too old for this.” “You don’t have the right skills to do this.” “No one has ever done this. Why don’t you just stop.”

How do you react to such criticism? Do you become miserable and discredit yourself wondering if you made a wrong choice and eventually give up? Or maybe persist but with less enthusiasm, grit, perseverance, faith …  

Maybe you respond to your naysayers by trying to fight for your space and defend your decision and individuality. Maybe you yell back at them trying to preserve your dignity as a human being.

But, this is not the way to go. The way to go is to turn a deaf ear to the naysayers, negative critics, and the noisy crowd — these prophets of doom.  Simply ignore their noise.

Even Jesus didn’t open His mouth to answer His negative critics. He chose to fulfil the purpose for which He was sent undeterred by naysayers.

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.”

Isaiah 53:7–8.

What if you turn a deaf ear when people tell you that you can’t make it? What if you be deaf when people try to pull you down? What if you turn a deaf ear when people give you unconstructive comments?

I want you to know that, when you give the slightest audience to naysayers or spend a fraction of a second, a minute, or an hour thinking about them, you take away valuable time from working on your purpose.

When you use some fraction of energy replying to or arguing with the naysayers, or even feeling bad about the negative comments of negative critics, that’s valuable energy taken away from fulfilling your purpose. You don’t need to spend your valuable energy fighting unnecessary battles.

Remember that you’re the sole owner of your race. It doesn’t belong to the spectators. It’s your responsibility to manage your choices and purpose. Focus on your vision and goals. Keep your gaze on the prize. Stay ignorant of the negative noise. Don’t allow sceptics to kill you alive so you won’t accomplish your purpose.

When they begin seeing things materialising, they’ll start reducing their noise. When they witness your success, they’ll shut their mouths and walk away, one after the other.  

And when you have crossed the finish line, you will open your mouth and glorify God as you testify. You’ll have to play deaf no more because there are no naysayers around you anymore. Furthermore, your former pessimists may join, cheer you up and support you when they realize that you’ve won the race and acquired the prize.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

1 Corinthians 9:24–27.

Keep the faith.

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