Second Basic Fear – The Fear of Criticism
By: Napoleon Hill
This basic fear of what people will say or think keeps many from developing and presenting ideas which would give them independence if acted upon. Thus fear of criticism robs man of his individuality. It undermines his self-reliance and develops an inferiority complex within him.
Often the cruelest critics of everything we do, or plan to do, are our relatives. Therefore it is necessary to caution you again: Keep your definite major purpose to yourself. Do not express it before those who may seize upon it with criticism and attempt to thwart your ambition to excel your previous efforts.
Parents with good intentions but a limited understanding of human relations, often do their children irreparable injury by criticizing them, shaming them, or making fun of them and their childhood dreams of achievement. Teasing an adolescent boy about his girl friends, and vice versa, is very definitely a dangerous practice which may lead to permanent social maladjustment in the case of a sensitive personality.
Strangely enough, criticism is one form of service which nearly everyone renders willingly, and usually without charge or invitation. It is the one type of service with which nearly everyone is very generous.
There is, however, a very significant difference between criticism and constructive suggestions. Often an employee, an associate, or a child, needs correction. Some of his habits may be unproductive, wasteful or in bad taste. A well-balanced person will learn to accept constructive suggestion in the spirit in which it is given, and will not brood over mistakes of the past.
The three most obvious symptoms of the fear of criticism are:
A. A desire to keep up with the Joneses. This will prompt you to try to maintain a front in competition with your neighbors, even if it causes you to spend beyond your income.
B. The habit of bragging about your achievements, either real or imaginary. It often happens that a person will cover up his feelings of inferiority by boasting, emulating others who are successful, and generally trying to give an impression of superiority.
C. An easy embarrassment. This is occasioned by an inability to express definite decisions, a fear of meeting people, reticence, and lack of self-confidence. It often results in fear of those in higher authority, avoidance of responsibility, and lack of personal initiative.
Fear of criticism is almost as general as fear of poverty. Similarly, it saps initiative and prevents the full play of the imagination, thus undermining two essential ingredients for personal achievement and success.
Well I can’t disagree with any of that. because Hill is right. It is a confidence sapper. His solution is typical Hill: If you want more out of life in the months and years ahead, you have to take charge of your life now and stop this bad habit.
Ok, but how? Well here, Claude Bristol (The Magic of Believing by Claude M, Bristol. Pgs. 171 and 172. Prentice-Hall, Inc., NYC. December, 1951) gives very good advice, get into the habit of taking charge of your life and making decisions.
Are you afraid to take on responsibilities, afraid to make decisions, afraid to step out alone? Most people are – that’s why there are so few leaders and so many followers.
If you are confronted with a problem, the longer you put it off, the greater it becomes and the more fearful you become of your ability to solve it. Therefore, learn to make decisions, because in not deciding you fail to act, and in failing to act you invite failure.
Experience will soon teach you that once a decision is made, the problems and troubles begin to disappear. Even though the decision you make my not be the best one, the mere deciding gives you strength and raises your morale.
It’s the fear of doing the wrong thing that attracts the wrong thing.
Decide and act, and the chances are that your troubles will fade into thin air – whether you make a mistake or not.
All great men are men of quick decisions which flows from their intuition, their accumulated knowledge, and previous experience.
So learn to be quick in making decisions and audacious in your actions.
So that means when someone tells you something bad, something you don’t like, make the decision right then and there, to ignore it. Don’t fan the flames and confront it, it will only embolden it and give it ammunition, as I hinted in the earlier post, just ignore it.
At first that may be hard, but repeat to yourself “everyone has their detractors including Christ, this is mine and I’m ignoring it”. Don’t let it get to you because if you do you know where it will end, it always has the same route, it stops you dead and immobilizes you — well that’s what it does to me & I doubt I’m alone in that reaction, so better yet, just don’t go there.
As my German shepherd Napoleon would say, Move Along.