Overcoming the Fear of Criticism in Your Creative Work


Are you hesitant to share your creative work for fear of criticism? It's a common feeling that many creatives experience. Criticism may feel like a personal attack, and it can be challenging to overcome. However, it's essential to remember that criticism is an inevitable part of the creative process and can be constructive for your growth.

As author Shannon Hale once said, "Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong." This quote highlights the value of understanding and embracing criticism, while taking it with a grain of salt.

In this article, we will explore ways to overcome the fear of criticism in your creative work so that you can continue to grow and thrive as a creator. Whether you're a writer sharing your stories, an artist displaying your paintings, or a musician performing your music, overcoming the fear of criticism is essential for your creative journey. Let's dive in and learn how to navigate this common fear.

Understand Your Fear

Before you can begin to overcome your fear of criticism, it's important to understand where that fear comes from. It might stem from a desire for perfection or a fear of failure. Maybe you've had a past experience that left you feeling vulnerable or exposed. Understanding the root of your fear can help you address it more effectively.

As author and researcher Brené Brown puts it, "Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life-paralysis." 1

Take some time to reflect on your fear of criticism. What are you really afraid of? How does it hold you back from sharing your creative work with the world? By facing these questions head on, you can start to make progress in overcoming your fear.

Face the Fear Head On

When it comes to overcoming the fear of criticism in your creative work, it's essential to face the fear head on. Instead of avoiding criticism, embrace it as an opportunity for growth. As author and speaker Seth Godin once said, "The only way to get better is to surround yourself with people who will tell you that you're not there yet." This means that in order to improve, you must be willing to confront your fear of criticism and use it to your advantage.

Remember that criticism is not a personal attack. It's simply feedback on your work, and it can help you see your creations from a different perspective. By facing the fear head on, you can learn to not only accept criticism but also use it to make your work even better.

As you face the fear of criticism, remind yourself that it is a natural part of the creative process. As author Brene Brown once said, "If you're not in the arena getting your ass kicked too, I'm not interested in your feedback." Embrace the fact that putting your work out into the world means opening yourself up to criticism, and use it as a tool for improvement.

Remember that everyone faces criticism, and it's how you respond to it that matters. Instead of letting it discourage you, use it to fuel your determination to succeed. By facing the fear head on, you can build resilience and develop a more positive attitude towards criticism.

Remember, as American entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn once said, "Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use."

So, face the fear of criticism head on, and use it to propel yourself forward in your creative journey.

Build a Positive Mindset

Building a positive mindset is crucial in overcoming the fear of criticism in your creative work. It's about reframing your thoughts and focusing on the constructive aspects of criticism rather than letting it bring you down.

A positive mindset allows you to see criticism as a chance to learn and grow, rather than a personal attack. As author Stephen Covey once said, "The way we see the problem is the problem." Shifting your perspective can make a world of difference in how you approach criticism.

In the words of psychologist Martin Seligman, "Learned helplessness is the giving-up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever you do doesn't matter."2 By cultivating a positive mindset, you can overcome the belief that criticism will always defeat you.

Remember, your work is an extension of yourself, and it's natural to feel attached to it. However, separating your worth from your work can help you embrace criticism with a more positive outlook. As actress and singer Bette Midler once said, "The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you."3 Embrace a positive mindset and be happy for yourself, regardless of any criticism that comes your way.

Seek Constructive Criticism

Receiving feedback on your creative work can be daunting, but seeking constructive criticism is an essential part of the growth process. Embracing feedback can help you improve and refine your work, making it even better. As actress and singer Jennifer Lopez once said, "You have to be open to taking criticism and some people can't do it."

When seeking constructive criticism, look for individuals whose opinions you value and trust. These can be fellow creatives, mentors, or industry professionals. Surrounding yourself with people who genuinely want to help you improve can make the feedback process much more constructive. As author and educator Pat Summitt wisely said, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions."

Remember that not all criticism is valuable, so it's important to seek out those who can offer insightful and constructive feedback. Look for individuals who can provide specific and actionable suggestions for improvement. This type of feedback can be incredibly valuable in helping you develop your skills and enhance your creative work.

Refrain from seeking validation and instead focus on receiving input that can help you grow as a creative. Author and educator Reshma Saujani once said, "Seek criticism. A lot of people, they don't want to hear what other people really think of their work. Understand that criticism is a good thing."

By embracing constructive criticism, you are demonstrating a willingness to learn and grow. It takes courage to open yourself up to critique, but the valuable insights you can gain from it will ultimately contribute to your artistic development.

Practice Self-Compassion

It's important to be kind to yourself as you navigate the world of creativity and criticism. Your inner voice can sometimes be your harshest critic, so it's crucial to practice self-compassion. As author Kristin Neff puts it, "Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don't like about yourself."

When you receive criticism, it's natural to feel hurt or defensive. However, try to approach yourself with the same understanding and empathy you would offer a friend in a similar situation. Remember, it's okay to make mistakes or have room for improvement. As Neff suggests, "Self-compassion and self-criticism are inversely related—you can't feel both at the same time, and your self-compassion can also help reduce self-criticism."

Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes, and the important thing is to learn and grow from your experiences. As you practice self-compassion, you'll find it easier to bounce back from criticism and continue pursuing your creative endeavors with confidence.

Create a Support Network

Feeling the fear of criticism can be overwhelming when you're putting yourself out there with your creative work. One way to combat this fear is to surround yourself with a supportive network of individuals who understand and appreciate the creative process.

Seek out like-minded individuals: "Having a group of people who understand what you're going through can make all the difference," says artist and author, Emily Belden. "They can provide encouragement, offer advice, and help you put things in perspective when facing criticism."

Join a creative community: "Sharing your work with a community of fellow artists and creators can be incredibly beneficial," suggests writer and poet, Rupi Kaur. "You can learn from each other, gain new insights, and find comfort in the fact that you're not alone in dealing with criticism."

Find a mentor or coach: "Having someone more experienced to guide you can be invaluable," advises professional photographer, Mark Denney. "They can offer constructive feedback, help you navigate through criticism, and provide the motivation you need to keep pushing forward."

Creating a support network is essential in overcoming the fear of criticism. It's important to have people who understand your passion, can offer constructive feedback, and provide the encouragement you need to continue pursuing your creative endeavors.

Celebrate Your Progress

It's important to celebrate your progress as you work to overcome the fear of criticism in your creative endeavors. Recognizing and acknowledging your achievements can help boost your confidence and motivation. As the author Lisa Hammond once said, "Don't forget to celebrate how far you've come."

By celebrating your progress, you reinforce a positive mindset and reaffirm your commitment to your creative work. This can help counteract the negative emotions that may arise from the fear of criticism. The renowned author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, once said, "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." So, take the time to appreciate the steps you have taken in your creative journey.

Maybe you've completed a challenging project, received positive feedback from a client, or simply made a breakthrough in your creative process. Whatever the accomplishment, acknowledge it and give yourself credit. It's all part of building resilience and self-belief in the face of criticism.

Remember, celebrating your progress doesn't always have to be a grand gesture. It can be as simple as treating yourself to something you enjoy or taking a moment to reflect on how far you've come. This celebration can help you stay motivated and focused on your creative goals.


In conclusion, overcoming the fear of criticism in your creative work is a journey that requires patience and perseverance. It's not easy, but it's definitely worth it. Remember, the fear of criticism is a natural part of the creative process, and everyone experiences it at some point. As J.K. Rowling once said, "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all."

By understanding your fear, facing it head-on, and building a positive mindset, you can gradually overcome it. Seeking constructive criticism, practicing self-compassion, and creating a support network will also help you navigate the fear of criticism in your creative endeavors. As you continue on this journey, celebrate your progress, no matter how small. As Maya Angelou wisely said, "You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it."

Remember, the fear of criticism is just a hurdle, not a roadblock. With determination, self-compassion, and support, you can push through and continue to create and share your work with the world. Keep pushing forward, and one day you'll look back and be amazed at how far you've come.

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Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

1Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection (2010)
2Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)
3Martin Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life (2006)
4Bette Midler, Still Divine: The Bette Midler Story (2002)
5Jennifer Lopez, True Love (2014)
6Pat Summitt, Reach for the Summit (1998)
7Reshma Saujani, Brave, Not Perfect (2019)
8Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (2011)
9Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (2011)
10Emily Belden, "We're all Creatives" (2019)
11Rupi Kaur, "Milk and Honey" (2014)
12Mark Denney, "The Art of Photography" (2018)
13Lisa Hammond, Being Creative: Be Inspired. Unlock Your Originality (2019)
14Zig Ziglar, See You at the Top (2000)
15J.K. Rowling, Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination (2015)
16Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter (2009)