by Niall Doherty

So I’ve been here in Spain almost two weeks now. My goal is to immerse myself in the language as much as possible, hopefully getting from scratch to fluency by the time I leave in mid-August.

One thing I’ve learned pretty quick is that it’s a bad idea to try and be perfect right from the start. You’re better off focusing on getting your main point across while forgetting about all the grammar rules, word genders, roller r’s, and other such nuances. It can actually be crippling to have a fluent spanish speaker pull you up on all those little mistakes. Much more helpful is having someone there to point out only los grandes errores, those big mistakes that change the essence of what you’re trying to communicate.

Later on, when you’ve become more confident in your ability to get your point across, then you can always go back and learn the nuances of the language, polish up your pronunciations and grammar and such.

This concept applies to more than just languages.

It’s generally good to get feedback, but too much feedback can be a bad thing, especially if it’s negative. There comes a tipping point when it starts hurting more than it helps.

I found myself having to draw the line recently and ask someone to stop giving me feedback on my writing here at Disrupting the Rabblement. Valid points were being made, but they were coming too hard and fast, and they focused mostly on the nuances. Addressing them took too much time and energy away from the big picture, the main points I try to get across here.

So I drew that line, and I felt immediate relief.

Because after all, no matter how much we grow and improve, there will still be lots we need to work on, right? We’re not trying to reach some final state of perfection. (That’s impossible anyway.) We’re just trying to be a little bit better every day.

So yeah, there’s always something we can improve upon. We’re aware of this.

The problem comes when we get too much feedback on our failings, on our areas for improvement. Too much of it can make us feel shitty, like we’re worthless, like we’re not making any progress. Add that to whatever internal resistance we’re already battling with — self-doubt, procrastination, fear of failure, etc. — and we quickly find ourselves in the land of hair clumps and broken bicycles.

That’s when you have to draw the line. Even if that feedback is well-intentioned and you respect who it’s coming from, sometimes, for your own sanity and well-being, you have no choice but to draw that line.

How about you?

Have you ever had to tell someone to quit it with the feedback? Ever weighed up the pros and cons and come to the conclusion that the well-intentioned criticism was doing you more harm than good?

Share in the comments, por favor!


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