How to overcome negativity and criticism

High Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais, PhD, shares advice on how to overcome negativity and criticism when working to pursue your potential
How to Overcome Negativity and Criticism
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How to overcome negativity and criticism

Those that have pursued their potential they’ve been met with criticism. It’s just that it’s a part of the process. They been met with coaching, they’ve been met with critique, they’ve been met with people that give them adulation and support. And something that they taught me is that what other people think of them, whether it’s kind or not kind, doesn’t actually matter as much as what we might think. It’s those basic elements of being able to be connected to the arc, to be connected to what the pursuit is that has a greater volume for those that are on the world stage. So when the natural part of being a human is to have other people give us their thoughts and sometimes they’re great and supportive and sometimes they’re not. And if we can devalue in a gracious way, in a kind way, devalue what other people think of us and increase the value of how we are feeling in experiencing this moment it becomes really powerful. And there’s a simple tool that can maybe help people with this. Many athletes that I work with they talk about the challenges of being coached. And sometimes in youth sports that can be really embarrassing. It can be great when everything is going correctly. But when it’s not going correctly, it can be really challenging for people. So what we do is we ask them to just develop a screen. It’s not a real screen. They’re not carrying around a screen with them. But they just develop a screen and it’s a filter and the information that is coming in is the stuff that’s going to help them be better and the information that is coming in that is not supporting them is not part of them believing they have what’s possible; it just drops to the waist side. And a really concrete example of this is a colleague who was in youth sport, it was football and early on he was berated by his coach. And he says, Mike, do you know what’s like in front of your peers to be screamed at in front of all of your friends and family members? He goes, it’s really not easy. By the way, this is not just football, this is any sport potentially. And then as he moved into the high school ranks, same experience, coaches were screaming at him. And as he moved into the college ranks, it was the same thing. And what he figured out early on was the importance to just absorb the things that are going to help him get better. So when a coach would say to him, I’ve told you a 1000 times, when you get to the line of scrimmage, I want you to take one half step back. I don’t know how many times I need to tell you this. You’re never going to make it to the next level if you don’t get this right. Most people hang on to the last part of that statement. But it’s the first part, through the scream, that’s all he paid attention to was I need to take a half step back. And so that half step back becomes the focus of his mind as opposed to what’s not possible and the criticism that comes along with it.

High Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais, PhD, shares advice on how to overcome negativity and criticism when working to pursue your potential


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Michael Gervais, PhD

High Performance Psychologist

Dr. Michael Gervais, a licensed psychologist and industry visionary, is a founding partner of Pinnacle Performance Center. He focuses most of his time on people at the "top of their game," from NBA players, to Olympians, to military personnel. Dr. Gervais has a clear understanding of how performers become and consistently excel at a world-class level. Spending years in the trenches of high-stakes circumstances, Dr. Gervais has developed clarity for the tools that allow people to "thrive under pressure."

Dr. Gervais is a published, peer-reviewed author and a nationally recognized speaker on issues related to high performance for those who excel on the largest stages in the world.

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