If, as some suggest, praise has the power to heal, then what then of criticism?
There are two main types of criticism; constructive, where perceived faults are gently pointed out and suggestions for improvements are offered; and destructive criticism, whereby negative connotations, innuendos or remarks are made, and are followed by a general aura of hopelessness.
The beauty of constructive criticism lies in its underlying thread of positivity and the hope, even likelihood, of ultimate success; perhaps even success at a level one never even dared to imagine. If well applied, and accepted in the spirit of genuine helpfulness, this sort of criticism can in fact be energising. The vibes are good: you are capable of success, and all you need is a little fine tuning. In all likelihood, this is attainable.
On the other hand, destructive criticism can be crippling. The seeds of insecurity can grow and spread like wildfire, destroying your self-belief and enthusiasm. What once seemed possible, even if it involved hard work, now often seems absolutely out of the question. At its worst, destructive criticism can crush an individual, and destroy what may well have been their motivation for a marvellous outcome.
Of course, the value of criticism is totally linked to the credentials of the person delivering it. Negative criticism may stem entirely from the critic’s inability to perceive the meaning or qualities of what they are analysing. There can also be other factors in play.
There will always be critics, and there will always be criticism. The art of the onlooker is to be able to discern the value of the critic’s opinion.