“Praise good men if you are able: if not, pass by them in silence: if indeed you take pleasure in this offensive abusiveness, fall foul of one another: for when you rave against Heaven, I do not say that you commit sacrilege but you waste your time.” – Seneca
People doing work they consider to be important or especially doing work they consider to be a reflection of their best self can take an incredible amount of misguided and ad hominem abuse and criticism before it even seems to affect them at all.
We may find ourselves wondering how. How do they ignore this abuse? How do they not hear the criticism of their life’s work? How do they not take this personally?
Likely, they understand that they do not control what people think about what they are doing, they don’t control how other people act, and they understand that they only control how they choose to respond to the world around them. Including people intent on criticizing things they do not understand.
It’s easy to let other people’s voices get into our minds and under our skin. But it does us no good and takes away from our primary goal. And how often, after we have had a chance to reflect on the criticism, do we find that it was well informed and we were able to use it to improve what we were doing? Never. Or at least, almost never.
Better to follow the lessons of the great and keep our heads down and our shoulders leaned into the important tasks. Let the world around us do what it will and let our work speak for us.
virtus fortis vocat