One of the most fragile layers of a human is their ego. It is the foundation of our identity in this world and tends to be the warehouse in our brain for personal validation and disapproval. This can either make you feel completely capable or it can make you question yourself entirely. The inflation and deflation of our egos is caused by the way we perceive our personal thoughts of ourselves as well other people's thoughts of our actions, beliefs, and creations. In this article, I am going to give my thoughts on how we can approach our ego when we are given constructive criticism.
The specific constructive criticisms I'm talking about is the feedback you receive from teachers and peers. We've all experienced that seemingly never-ending downward spiral of self-deprecation after receiving a low score on an assignment or negative comments from peer editing sessions. It never feels good to hear that your work, "could be better." We want to hear that we are perfect and that we should never change cause why change perfection? Am I right? That's the ego talking.
The better approach to receiving this painful constructive criticism is to not to immediately let your negative self-talk get the best of you and completely derail you from the task at hand, which is to improve. I suggest taking a moment to reflect, putting all your feelings to the side. Maybe try to imagine that the paper or assignment isn't even yours, removing yourself from the emotional tie you have to your creation. Look at the mistakes as mini to do's; take each mistake one at a time, and approach each with your only intention being to fix it, not to introspectively learn. This will make the process so much less overwhelming and attainable. Plus, you will subconsciously be learning why you did it incorrectly in the first place.
Many of you may be thinking to yourself, "I have felt this way my whole life, how is reading this article going to just magically change my perspective?" I get it. It is not easy, and that is exactly why we don't change it. But what if I were to tell you that if you dedicate only one month of your life to this, you will develop the ability to positively take constructive criticism?
In an article written by Leon Ho, a writer for Life Hack, he explains various theories on how long it takes to break bad habits. One of the most popular beliefs Ho mentions is one that Jon Rhodes states, "You must live consciously for 4 weeks, deliberately focusing on the changes that you wish to make. After the 4 weeks are up, only a little effort should be needed to sustain it."
So, I challenge you, readers, to try this method of delaying your initial reaction to negative feedback, setting aside your emotional attachment to your work, and simplifying your correction to simply fixing them one by one. Try this for only one month, and I promise you will learn more, perform better, and eventually appreciate constructive criticism.