Mindset Mastery 193 – Fearing Criticism

The Fear of Criticism can be crippling. The fear of criticism on many levels is a prime contributor to a lack of success. At some point, we all must learn to let others think what they will in order to free ourselves to succeed. Here, Napoleon Hill talks about the Fear of Criticism, and makes some very valid (and unfortunately recognisable) observations in regards to its profound effect on the lives of average men and women.

Examining The Fear

Let’s examine some of the symptoms of the Fear of Criticism. The majority of people permit relatives, friends, and the public at large to influence them so heavily that they cannot live their own lives, because they live in fear of being criticized.

Huge numbers of people make mistakes in marriage, stay in the relationship for years, and live miserable and unhappy, because they fear the criticism that might follow if they do something to correct the mistake. (Anyone who has submitted to this form of fear knows the irreparable damage it does, by destroying ambition, self-reliance, and the desire to achieve).

Millions of people give up on going back to school to acquire belated educations because they fear criticism.

Countless numbers of men and women, both young and old, permit relatives to wreck their lives in the name of duty, because they fear criticism. (Duty does not require any person to submit to the destruction of his personal ambitions and the right to live his own life in his own way).

People refuse to take chances in business, because they fear the criticism which may follow if they fail. The fear of criticism, in such cases is stronger than the DESIRE for success.

Too many people refuse to set high goals for themselves, or even neglect choosing a career, because they fear the criticism of relatives and “friends” who may say “Don’t aim so high, people will think you are crazy.”

But What Will People Say?

When Andrew Carnegie suggested that Napoleon Hill devote twenty years to organizing a philosophy of individual achievement his first impulse of thought was fear of what people might say. The suggestion set up a goal for Hill, far out of proportion to any he had ever conceived. In a flash, Hill says, his mind began to create alibis and excuses, all of them traceable to the inherent fear of criticism. Something inside of him told him, “You can’t do it–the job is too big, and requires too much time–what will your relatives think of you? How will you earn a living? No one has ever organized a philosophy of success, what right do you have to believe you can do it? Who are you, anyway, to aim so high? Remember your humble birth—what do you know about philosophy—people will think you are crazy—(and they did)—why hasn’t some other person done this before now?”

These and many other questions flashed into Hill’s mind, and demanded attention. It seemed as if the whole world had suddenly turned its attention to him with the purpose of ridiculing him into giving up all desire to carry out Mr. Carnegie’s suggestion. And yet, here we are today, seventy years later, reading the timeless secrets to financial success which Hill researched and revealed for the first time ever, because he fought the fear of criticism. Who’s laughing now?

Fighting Fear

People will always have something to say; by adulthood, this is something we all come to understand, although not necessarily accept. Never can you satisfy everyone, and never can you do a single thing without someone having an opinion about it. But none of this matters. What matters is that you stay true to yourself—to your goals, ambitions, and your own personal success. I truly believe, as Napoleon Hill did, that every one of you has what it takes to be successful and wealthy, just as soon as you clear the meaningless roadblocks from your path and allow your ambitions and desires to drive you instead of the public opinion polls.

Sean Rasmussen
Success Communicator
Aussie Internet Marketer © 2004 – 2010

About Sean Rasmussen

Sean Rasmussen is a passionate blogger and has been a full time internet marketer since 2005. When he's not with his family, or dog Buddy, Sean is usually blogging or doing something related to the internet.


  1. Hi Sean
    Belief in yourself I mean truly believe and you can do anything, even when family and friends say “why work so long and hard at your age, you are not earning anything anyway” I look back 1 year, and can see the difference in myself and my work, and how I feel about me, I look forward I can see my fortune changing because I believe in my own ability like never before.
    You have already have given me the tools and shown me the way, I know I am wealthier than I ever thought I could be, not because I have the money now but because I know I will
    .-= Rita pepper´s last blog ..Internet Marketing Strategy =-.

    • Great comment Rita.
      Self belief is such a hard mindset to develop as throughout life we’re conditioned to fear criticism and therefore avoid opportunities where it may present itself. It’s fantastic to hear that you’ve got self belief and show gratitude. Pat on the back superstar.
      .-= David Moloney´s last blog ..Free Logo Design Brief: Download Yours Now =-.

    • Hello Rita,
      I agree with David that it is a great comment.

      It’s a sad fact of life that we are constantly being inundated with ” KNOW-ALLS ” who want to put us down. I can especially empathise with you as I have a family member who wants to know how much I made this week from YOTA and why I keep on persisting with the study if there is no income this week. I love your sentence :-

      ” I know I am wealthier than I ever thought I could be, not because I have the money now but because I know I will. ”

      That is one of the most inspiring comments I’ve read for ages. It portrays my feelings about YOTA and I also know I’ll make excellent $$$$$$$ s along the way, so being part of it all makes me rich now, too !!!!!.

      Bless You Rita.
      .-= Harry Lynn´s last blog ..Your Mobile Phone and Emergencies =-.

  2. Fear can do crazy things to your mind. The trick is to fight the fear. And it’s articles like “Fearing Criticism” that will educate & deconstruct what’s behind our fears. Having knowledge & support is the weapons/tools to fight the fear.

    Thanks Sean! Will continue to fight in the trenches to win the war against fear.
    .-= Samantha Banfield´s last blog ..Warning Danger Sign Prevents Office Workers from Breathing =-.

  3. Whenever someone criticizes me for some of the wealth-building ventures I’m pursuing, I take a look at where they’re currently at in their lives and deduce whether they’re worth listening to or not based on this.
    .-= Colin´s last blog ..Wealth and Success =-.

    • G’day Colin,
      Beautifully put ! Reminds me of when I was a younger musician and copping negative comments from members of the public. I was devastated as I’d worked my butt off practising and studying up to 8 hours daily [ PLUS had a full time daytime job ] and making heaps of progress. During a councilling session with my teacher, Chuck Yates, he solved the problem by asking, ” What qualifications does the critic have ? Is he someone who really knows good from bad or is he just a negative ************* ?
      That solved the problem !
      .-= Harry Lynn´s last blog ..Your Mobile Phone and Emergencies =-.

  4. Fear is stopping a lot of us so we don’t follow our dreams. And most of the time these people try to stop others as well by criticizing them. Sometimes I get the feeling there is some “I didn’t get it so I don’t want you to achieve what I never dared to either” in it which is very sad.

    So I agree with Colin. If someone criticizes, have a look where they are in their lifes. Did they actually go through the experience and can give you some constructive criticism to help you find your way? Or do they just want to stop you from achieving more than they did?
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..Donald Trump – Think Big And Kick Ass – Book Review =-.

    • Hi Renee,

      I really have a problem with people who try to steal someone’s dream. Who are we to decide if someone’s dream is worthy. I think if someone trusts me enough to share their dream with me; I hope that I will be able to motivate and encourage them to pursue that dream.

      No-one has the right to criticize someone’s dream.
      .-= Jazz Salinger´s last blog ..Finding Your Passion =-.

  5. Jazz Salinger says:

    Hi Sean,

    I have a really simple view of this problem. I don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t pay my bills. If someone doesn’t pay my bills then they don’t get a say in what I do with my life.

    My partner is the only one I have to answer to and the only one whose feelings matter. I refuse to let someone who doesn’t matter steal any part of my life or my dreams.

  6. Phil Browne says:

    I guess Im really lucky the majority of friends who were told of my plans wished me well unfortunately its only family that tell me it will never work I wonder if they dont want it to work because they are prepared to sit back and wait for something to happen.I dont even bother listening anymore.

  7. There are many things in life that I have not sought due to the fear of criticism. Whether it was generated in my mind from a general lack of courage to take on fear, or the unfavorable experiences when I did take the risk and ended up failing and facing judgment and criticism.

    Those are the hardest times to overcome a growing fear and one of the best times to take it on to implement a change in your life.
    .-= Cemil´s last blog ..Following a Entrepreneurs Mindset =-.

  8. Hi Sean,
    It’s important to know the difference between constructive criticism and the fearful destructive criticism that can destroy someone’s life, if they let it. I mostly avoid negativity by trying to associate with positive people.

    I can mildly identify with the position N Hill found himself in and have learned to overcome the fear of criticism most of the time. At times I can take up a cause that I believe in but it may not be mainstream beliefs. This sometimes attracts a certain amount of criticism. I can however brush this off also if it means me not becoming a lemming that’s going over a cliff.

  9. Very interesting subject here,

    Facing your fear can be an interesting battle, after all you are fighting yourself. Honesty, commitment and self belief go a long way toward breaking through those roadblocks and I believe that anyone can achieve there goals with the right mental formula.

  10. I feel the fear of criticism is something we learn from a child. (I know I did anyway) Who doesn’t want their parents praise and you are willing to do anything to get it, especially if you have come from a large family. The fear of criticism has definately held me back but as I get older I am changing my attitude to more of a “I don’t give a sh.. about what others say about me”
    .-= Jackie Stenhouse´s last blog ..Falling Pregnant =-.

  11. Cathy Howitt says:

    Fearing criticism more than desiring success was a big part of my life when I grew up. I was always trying to please people and hated it if my ideas or dreams upset people.
    Luckily as an adult, I have a “mind of my own” and if I fear that someone may criticize a decision, I either:
    a) Don’t tell them or
    b) Be strong in my conviction when discussing ideas or
    3) Am very aware that their criticism may actually be a fear within themselves.

    Amazingly when you are clear about what you want and why you want it and don’t let people who don’t like your idea upset you, then it often doesn’t take long for them to come around to your point of view or to at least respect your point of view.


    • Hi Cath,

      I think it’s a little easier when we get older because we have our own family. There’s nothing we wouldn’t do for our partners and our children.

      So, it makes it easier to go after our dreams when we see the impact it has on our children. How can we tell them to follow their dreams if we’re too afraid of criticism to follow our own?

      Besides Cath, these people don’t live your life and don’t pay your bills. So, they don’t get a say. You do what’s best for you and your family. Chase those dreams and you’ll be sure to catch one. 🙂
      .-= Jazz Salinger´s last blog ..Internet Marketing Success – Make It Happen =-.

  12. Fear of Criticism can be crippling. Your Desires of Success can’t happen because you let fear get in the way. There comes a time when your Desires have to count more then your fears and you do what you want to do. When that happens, the only person you need to listen to is yourself.
    .-= Tania Shipman´s last blog ..Sean Rasmussen =-.

  13. A strong sense of self – or self image, if you will, and coupled with assertiveness and decisiveness are the strengths need to avoid being crippled with fear.

    Often people criticise saying it is that they fear for you – when it is their own fears underlying their comments or lack of encouragement. Some folks just can’t cope with others not being dependent on them.

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