Criticism, Sock it to me!

by Patrick Liew on April 9, 2014

When I was in primary school – which was only a few years ago 🙂 – there was a moment that I dreaded during class hours. I would give anything to escape from it.

Unfortunately, I can’t. And that moment happened very often during those days.

It would begin with a nurse walking into my classroom. She would pass a card to my teacher.

Then the teacher would announce in front of the whole class, “Patrick Liew, please go to the dental office now.”

I hate that moment. Even as I am writing about it, I can feel the anxiety running through me.

For some reasons, I got to see the dental nurse more often than most students. It was probably because my teeth was not kept in the best condition.

Looking back today, I am grateful for having a professional to help me look after my teeth.

The only problem was that our school’s dental nurse was well known to be a not-so-friendly person. She had a legendary temper too.

In fact, during one of the appointments, she told me in anger, “Boy, before you reach 40 years old, you will be ‘bo gay’ (toothless).”

Those words frightened me to the core even though I have never ever seen a ‘bo gay’ person until that moment.

I was stretching my rich imagination and visualising myself becoming an ugly and scary toothless person. All the girls were running away from me and people were laughing behind my back.

It must have been from that moment that I started to conscientiously look after my teeth.

Growing up, I was well known to bring a toothbrush to school. It went on right through my working life.

I am proud to share that I brush my teeth more than once per day and usually after every meal.

You can tell from my photo which I took almost 20 years ago that I have barely crossed 40 years of age. 🙂

The good news is I still have a nice set of teeth. It is still strong enough to tear off the flesh of anybody who dare to laugh behind my back.

Jokes aside, thank you Mr Dentist.

Your criticism was not spoken in the most appropriate way. Nonetheless, it has made both my teeth and me stronger to handle other challenges in life.

That was not the first nor the last time I have been criticized. Looking back, some of these criticism have turned out to be important lessons and the start of many turning point in my life.

As I reflected about criticism, I realised it, too, will come to pass. However, we should never allow its meaning, purpose and significance to be lost in time.

Whether we are on the right or wrong track, there will always be criticism. In fact, if we have no criticism, chances are we are not on the success track.

The amount of criticism is proportionate to the level of our success. In other words, the more successful we are, the more criticism we will get.

The only way not to have criticism is to say or do absolutely nothing. The other alternative is to learn how to manage it effectively.

Moreover, it is better to learn how to handle criticism as early as possible in your life. Continue to improve your skills because it will become stronger as you become more successful.

A word of caution: Don’t let the praises of others trip you in life. Neither should you allow criticism to grip you and prevent you from moving forward.

Learn to differentiate positive criticism from negative criticism. One is constructive while the other is destructive.

Negative criticism will damage and destroy you while positive ones will educate and enlighten you.

Learn to humble yourself and accept positive criticism. If you are not open to criticism, you have closed the door to success.

Take it objectively and not personally. You have essentially three choices: you can allow it to shape or destroy you. You can let it strengthen you and become a valuable input to improve your game.

I have always said, if I am wrong, the best thing others can do for me is to tell me that I am wrong. It is a necessity to reach a higher level in life.

On the other hand, learn to prevent negative criticism from taking toxic roots in your heart and mind. The road to success is filled with cemeteries to bury and forget them.

When people throw stones at you, use them to build highways to help yourself and others travel farther and faster in life. Learn from them but don’t let them stand in your way of progress.

For a similar posting, please go to


By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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