There are no end of people who give you feedback and advice. Asked and unasked. Client surveys and friends and readers and mastermind buddies and experts and peers. Well-meaning busybodies and professional advice givers like me.
Sometimes the words they tell you will strike immediately into your soul and light up an understanding. Oh, you say. I get it now. Instant epiphany, no need for explanation or reasoning or anything other than the delightful soul vertigo of new possibility.
And sometimes they share words with you that do not create immediate understanding. That feel wrong or incomplete or infuriating or devastating or all of the above.
What to do? First, remember…
There is a difference between criticism, constructive criticism, and feedback.
If you were shooting a bow, feedback would say, “Your arrow missed the target by ten centimetres.”
Constructive criticism would say, “You need to release the string more smoothly.”
Criticism would say, “You’re a crap archer.”
The third one is designed to wound. The first and second are designed to help you.
Step back from the moment and figure out which one you have.
Criticism should be flat out ignored, denied, fingers in the ears la-la-la I am not listening rejected. Squished mercilessly every time it comes back into your mind. Criticism is devil-grass on the smooth lawn of your mind.
What do you do with advice and feedback that does not serve you?
Firstly, hold the words in your hand like a sunflower seed.
Turn them over. Smell them. Think about where they came from. Does the person know you well? Do they see more clearly than you do? Are these words about you, or the person who shared them? Do they serve you?
If the seeds prick your fingers, hold them more gently. Some gifts are poisoned. Some gifts do not suit their recipients.
Then go find a patch of black moist earth. Dig a hole with your index finger and drop the seeds in. Push the earth over the top. Smooth it. Water it.
And then leave it the fuck alone.
In the fullness of time, these seeds might germinate and sprout understanding. Or they might remain buried and useless under the ground, never to enlighten you.