The Gift of Criticism

When someone points out your mistakes, thank them.

It is impossible to have a fully objective view of ourselves and how we relate to the world. Inevitably, we are blind to some of our errors in perception, judgement, and behavior. We all make mistakes.

If the people we surround ourselves with care about us and our development, they will point out when we are wrong. They will show us our errors and they will give us room, and sometimes even tools, for improvement. This is a gift we should receive graciously and humbly.

More difficult to accept, however, is what feels like criticism. This is especially true when the perceived criticism comes from outside of our close circle of those we trust and respect. Criticism from strangers often feels like a malicious and unjustified attack.

When criticized from someone we don’t know or don’t respect, we typically respond in one of two ways. Either we take it to heart, allowing it to hurt us and question our path, or we put up our defenses, dismiss it outright, and ignore or even attack the messenger. Neither of these extremes will help us grow.

Even criticism from a stranger is a gift. If they are correct, they have done us a favor by pointing out a vulnerability we may not have known ourselves to have. If they are incorrect, at least they allowed us the opportunity for self reflection and to become more confident in the course we have chosen.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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