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Monday, May 7, 2012

Bad Reviews Sting Like a B*

No one likes a bad review.

A bad review cuts. It burns. It stings like a thousand angry bees. A bad review is like an emotional iron maiden.

I recently got one. It wasn't so much a bad review. More like a beating.

It wasn't for one of my novels, it was in another line of work. The review used the words colossal waste of time and insulting...

It was a beatdown.

No one is immune to bad reviews. Someone out there isn't going to like the way you do things, the way you say them or present them. Or they just don't like you. It will happen. No way around it. Bad reviews are part of the creative game -- writing, painting, photography, design, teaching. At some point, someone will call your work stupid, unimaginative, or hack.

Or a colossal waste of time.

A bad review, though, could be your best review. It could be the one that cuts through your blind spots. It's the one that might push you where you need to go.

Experience the ugly feeling. Open to the heartache as someone else's opinion shreds your ideas about who and what you are. Let the initial firebomb burn your attachments to praise and attaboys until they're ash. Notice where you're getting your value.

I'm a good person if they love me.
I'm worthwhile if I succeed.
I exist if someone values me.

All thoughts.
All attachments.

Attachments don't feel so bad when we get yummy feelings, like when we're good. The bad review is like a forest fire, burning through the hubris of attachment (good or bad) to start anew. It hurts. It burns. But if we let it, we grow.

The person that annoys you in the office, the relative that steps on your last nerve, the bad review that stabs... we practice to be grateful for them. They are Buddhas. They show us our deficiencies, they bring our attachments into the light for us to see.

I read my bad review. I experienced the gut-wrenching reaction. I noticed the thoughts (see above).

Read and repeat. And notice.

And when the ash settled, I saw where I could be a better teacher. I saw where I could improve what I was doing.

And I still hate bad reviews.

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