There’s a Haitian proverb that says, “Pa achte figi moun.” In essence it means, “Don’t try to flatter people.” The proverb admonishes to never demean ourselves to obtain worth and value in the sight of others. The proverb also underscores that we will go mad if we try to please people.

No matter what you do – whether good or bad, people will always criticize you.

They will criticize you if you have short, long, or no hair; or, if you’re black, white, yellow, or red. People will criticize you for just breathing, for taking up space.

Throughout my life, I’ve received criticism – some were constructive, but others were unwarranted, stemming from the individual’s unresolved grudges, hatred, jealousy, or envy. Just the other day, a woman took it upon herself to write a scathing comment on my Facebook page, expressing displeasure in my creative pursuits.

It’s always problematic when people place others on pedestals and set high expectations. If a person doesn’t remember your name, give him the benefit of the doubt. If a person doesn’t thank you, give her some grace. Oftentimes, people forget that we, as human beings, “have complicated lives, and are subjected to change.”

Social media factors into creating high expectations. Nowadays, people make uninformed judgments on a person’s character based on his or her posts which only reflect less than 10% of the person’s life. Presently, we are seeing more and more critics rise up, but we no longer see constructive feedback that builds up. We no longer see patience, wisdom, and understanding, but split-second posts made in the heat of one’s emotions.

When you are following God’s purpose for your life, you will always face opposition. Don’t be alarmed. As one of my successful friends once told me, “It comes with the territory.”

What is your mission? God has given you a dream and planted it in your heart. Are you facing some opposition or criticism?

If so, you are not alone.

There’s the story of a man named Nehemiah in the Holy Bible. He was burdened with the desire to rebuild his country and revive and restore his people. Unfortunately, he faced opposition not only from outsiders but also from his own kinsmen. He overcame the doubters, haters, and anyone else who stood against him. Despite the obstacles, he achieved his purpose and completed his mission.

David had to face giants, and you will have to do the same if you ever want to be successful. A businessman once told me, “I eat giants for breakfast.”

So, what do you do when you come across a critic?

1. Don’t React

Your initial reaction may be disbelief, confusion, or even anger. You may want to serve the same venom that was thrown at you. However, as Former First Lady Michelle Obama once said, “If they go low, you go high.”

Never stoop to anyone’s level, and never change your character.

2. Ignore

Another option is to ignore them. My friend once told me, “If I were to stop and address every critic that came my way, I wouldn’t get any work done.” It’s true. We’ve got a mission to fulfill, and addressing every negative comment can potentially slow us down.

Nehemiah, addressing his critics who called out to him, said, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?

3. Protect Your Space

Have you ever encountered someone, and all of a sudden, you sensed something was off? Your intuition was telling you something that the eyes could not detect.

From experience, miracles do not manifest where there are seeds of hatred, malice, greed, jealousy, rage, envy, etc. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” The substance of your life comes from the intentions of your heart.  Protect your space –  your mental, emotional, and creative space.

4. Don’t Be Intimidated

Sink your roots deep into a strong foundation of knowing who you are, what you are doing, and where you are going. When obstacles come your way, you will be able to withstand them.

4. Move On

The comment may sting for a few hours, and you may think about it for a day or two. However, you must move on. Don’t let it occupy your mind and poison your spirit. Forgive the person, and move on with your life. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and too high a spirit to be encumbered with [the] old nonsense.”

Cindy Similien-Johnson is the founder of CSJ Media Publishing, and author of the bestselling e-cookbook series and popular cooking classes, "Cook Like A Haitian." She's also the founder of the women empowerment grassroots initiative, Goal Chic.

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