Have You Heard of Critics Math?
Have you ever heard of the phenomenon known as Critics math? Jon Acuff defines it as it “a phenomenon where 100 compliments + 1 criticism = 1 criticism.
Isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard – but know to be true?
We need look no further than an article from the Rolling Stones where they interviewed David Larry co-creator of Seinfeld.
“One night during his stay (in New York), David went to Yankee Stadium to see a game. His image went up on the big screen as Curb Your Enthusiasm’s theme song played over the big speakers. An entire stadium of fans stood and cheered for the hopeless case from Brooklyn. It should have been a life-defining moment, the redemptive final scene in the biopic. But as it turned out, not so much. As David left the stadium, a guy drove by and yelled, “Larry, you suck!” “That’s like, literally all he heard,” Berg (David’s friend) says.
David spent the ride back from the Bronx obsessing over that moment, running it over and over in his mind. It was as if the other 50,000 people, the ones who loved him, didn’t exist. “Who’s that guy? What was that?” He asked. “Who would do that? Why would you say something like that?”
How is it that a highly successful person lets such a thing bother him? Yet we do it every day and it appears that none of us is immune.
What can we do
So if success won’t protect us from critics math what can we do? How can we recognize and eliminate this from our lives? I’ve found a few solutions over the years that may be able to help.
First recognize it for what it is –
POISON In the same way cyanide will kill you critics math will also kill you. It halts you in your tracks, it stops you from trying new things, making mistakes and growing. Critics math is a dream crusher – pure poison!
One way to put it into context ask yourself “if someone were to put some poison in front of me right now would I ingest it? Then why am I going to allow this thought, person, statement to infect my mind. I WON’T!
Second replace the thought
This is where having a “success” binder or “brag” journal can be very helpful. It give you evidence to show your brain that what was being said is not true. But if you haven’t built one yet then just sit down and start writing all the good you recognize in yourself. All the things you have done.
Another way to replace the thought is simple – first fold a piece of paper in half than write the critics version on the left side of the piece of paper – on the right side write 3 opposites. So for example if someone said “that dress makes you look fat” you would write that on your paper – then on the opposite side you would write?
- I look amazing
- I love my body
- I am talented.
As you can see not all of them are exact opposites but they are meant to help build you up – then take the left side of the paper (the critics side) rip it off and shred, burn, rip – whatever you want to get rid of it. It is very therapeutic and destroy that thought and throw it away – and then you are just left with the good.
Third Find a Success Buddy
BuIf the above actions don’t feel like they will work for you maybe you should do what one of my friends does. She has a sister that she calls when she starts when she is feeling the weight of criticism, either from others or from her self. She calls the sister and lets her know she needs some verbal lovin’ and her sister starts pouring it on.
Her sister goes through and tells her all the awesomeness that she is. She lists all her good qualities and traits, how many times her sister has served and done things for herself and others and just how amazing she is. By the time the conversation is over she walks away feeling pretty great about herself – and honestly having this type of “buddy” system can save you from yourself doubt and negative talk quickly.
Forth Create a Success Binder –
In this binder you place images and words that show what you have accomplished or what you have overcome. For example if you dreamed of taking a trip to Europe and did it – put a picture in there. If you went an entire week without eating sugar – put those words in there. You can place any “accomplishment” in there.
Accomplishments don’t need to be HUGE things they can be as simple as doing things on a consistent basis, creating a new habit, overcoming negative thought process, nurturing yourself, your kids or your grandkids. Place these in a binder as proof to the fact that you don’t have to listen to the critic. That 100 accomplishments can drown out 1 criticism. Change the math to go in your favor.
Just because someone says something it really is up to us to decide if it’s true or not for ourselves. If we choose to not “own” it but to instead build ourselves and our lives in a way that we have some power over it changes things – mostly it changes us.
Labels are hard and they hurt – but if we are going to help teach and mentor our grandkids to not believe everything that the world is telling them we better start doing it ourselves too – don’t you think?