How to Accept Criticism: The Happy Medium

4:43:00 PM

It's natural. When someone tells you to do something, your first instinct is to defy them. Quite often, we will blurt out phrases such as "Mind your own business" and "You're not the boss of me." Well, guess what?

Welcome to the world of ballet. 
We are all about everything unnatural.
(Sucks, doesn't it? Oh, well.)

It's true! Think about it - turning out and arching our feet and hyperextending our knees and just about anything in ballet is the opposite of what the body wants to do. If you want to rotate on the right side, your left side will close up - but your left side has to rotate out, too! 
So, while our own inner critic wants to resist others' judgement, we have to silence it - at least for a little bit.

Image via Lifehack Quotes
What I've observed from many dancers is that they often accept criticism, but their self esteem is at stake. Frequently, it's either that the dancer takes in the criticism and their self esteem lowers, or the dancer doesn't take in the criticism and they don't improve.
The rather peculiar thing about accepting criticism is that you have to judge the comment itself  without letting things like your ego cloud your judgement.  Here's the part where you can allow your inner critic to come out just a bit. Really think about what the person is saying, and judge for yourself whether it is true. Here, you have to be very honest with yourself. Don't be prejudiced towards the person. In fact, forget whether the person has a lower level of technique, and just think about what they are saying. If it is true, think about how you can improve on what they're criticizing. (Remember though, just thinking of wanting to improve is different from thinking of how to improve. Thinking of how to improve automatically forces you to really take action, while you can get stuck at the same spot forever by just wanting to improve.) If it's not, (and you're sure it is) you don't have to tell them what you think; all you have to do is be aware of the correction and thank the person for telling you. If you don't know whether it's true, try to ask another person, and pay particular attention to how you move (maybe you'll find out yourself). 

Usually, when people start to have their self esteem affected by criticism, it's because they care too much about what other people think. It's rather cheesy, but it's absolutely true. When people criticize you, think of it as a positive thing, even if they're being rather mean about it. You get to have something to think and improve on rather than being oblivious to it! And even if they say something like "I hate you're dancing. It's ugly," well, guess what? There are about 7.2 billion people in the world, and you can't please all of them! It would be lovely to please them all, but impossible; everybody has different tastes, and pleasing one would probably displease another.

As a conclusion, it all comes down to making the wisest choice for yourself. Don't block out everything negative, but don't let your self esteem suffer; find the happy medium. Most importantly, what people say about you, no matter how negative, is not what defines you - it is how you react to the things that are said that defines you.


  1. good advice and very well written....once i spilled cranberry juice all over myself in class and everyone laughed, but i ignored them all and reacted calmly...they are all little caterpillar eggs and i am a butterfly (metaphor for my maturity)...

    1. Thank you! I actually had a really wonderful friend help me out with this post. It's quite a coincidence because she actually had a very similar cranberry experience as you.


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