There is nothing quite as infuriating as a backhanded compliment. Possibly the only thing worse? A backhanded compliment or flat-out invalidation followed by a series of ways the invalidator can rescue your creative endeavor in a heroic and selfish selfless manner. “Oh,” the critic may say, “what a great idea, if only your writing wasn’t a hobby that is so experimental! You know, I know this great, successful, professional writer who can really make it great…” Or, when my old acting class was filled with crazy problems and when I decided to leave I learned I was “unteachable.” Ed Norton was encouraged by a famous casting director to “quit acting,” and Jennifer Hudson was famously told on American Idol that shed never make it. Both found themselves with Oscar nominations within a short span of time because their will was purpose was stronger than the spears of criticism. The most subtle critics, the most nefarious, will say they just “want to help,” especially when you did not ask for help and most especially when the people involved in the critique have ZERO CLUE about what you are doing as an artist or as a person. A mind-boggling magician once told me that he’d grow infuriated when he’d do an amazing trick and someone would say, “oh, I’ve seen that one…” and act sort of nonplussed. Subtle. Annoying.
You know, if you speak up to an invalidator, you will often be accused of being: overly-sensitive, insecure, unskilled, immature, dramatic or naive….
If you fall prey to an invalidatoryou may, as I did once, shelf a book you wrote at 22 that was receiving huge critical praise when one bad review came in… you may find yourself less motivated, less cheerful, less enthusiastic, less of all the brilliant things you are….you may quit doing what works and start putting your life and work into the hands- and opinions- of others.
Don’t give your power away!!!!!! Listen to the constructive bits wedged within the invalidation. We all need to learn and grow. But the rest? Write it on a piece of paper and ceremoniously burn it, scream it out, journal it, draw it, paint it, write a monologue about it and perform it… Just don’t carry it with you. Its useless. Which is how most invalidators want you to feel, because they themselves feel pretty miserable about themselves.