How Deadly Can Criticism Be?


Reading The Art of Mindful Singing (my recent review is here), I came to the part of the book, where the author analyses why many people stop or refuse singing in front of others. Television hasn’t helped in that either, by producing endless singing competitions with often a ruthless criticism of participants. 

And in my mind an idea started growing: isn’t this something, what survived from the ancient past of humanity? Times when killing an enemy, or an competitor, or a stranger (the unknown, the unfamiliar) was a norm? Wasn’t that a basic instinct of survival some tens of thousands of years ago? 

With the time and the civilization taking over, such an act became “inhuman” and also illegal and criminal. So instead of a bloody resolution of a potential thread, humans resorted to lesser dangerous act of – public humiliation, criticism and ridicule. 

Although these are not bloody acts per se, the result of their use could be similarly ‘life-threatening’. Especially for those more sensitive and less self-assured.

The final outcome of such development could be, that nowadays there are very few people, who have the courrage and the guts to sing even when alone in front of a mirror. Our modern society is not based on killing with arrows and stone-axes. But we have mastered the way how to discourage potential competitors, how to threaten a stranger – the unknown, even in our own mind, and how to ‘kill’ our enemies with words of criticism and the laughter of ridicule. 

Music especially is a great field for such ‘bloody sport’ due to its ability to project and impact emotions. It could start in early childhood with unsensitive remarks to our own kids. 

The result is too often a large part of the population that believes, that they don’t have any musical abilities, even that they are ‘tone deaf’. In such circumstances the safest approach for many is just to shut up and avoid any musical expression. 

No surprise than, that such discouraged people prefer to defer their musical abilities to ’professionals’. And they prefer to pay those professionals for their music effort. That gave the existence of the music entertainment industry. The fact is, that such an industry has no incentives to change this model, where a critical minimum of professional artists and especially the industry professionals behind them (managers, lawyers, financiers, distributors …), become extremely rich. The rest of the population is too often encouraged and supported in doubting their own musical abilities. The safest is to only passively consume the music industry products.

But music is not only entertainment. It cannot and shouldn’t be. A very clear example and supporting reason for this is the music therapy. Music can be much more – if we allow music and ourselves to do that. And mindfulness could be a great mediator in this process. 

So here is my request to you: Don’t let your inner critic or any outside critic, any potential competitor to kill music inside you. Everyone is born with the ability to make music. And to reap benefits from the active music making, whether it is through improved mental and physical wellbeing, or better social life, selfesteem, memory, stress relief,  and other. Music is too precious to give it up due to some insensitive or outright mean comments. 


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