5 Expert Tips from Joseph Brodsky on Handling Critics and Haters in Your Life

From Exile to Poet Laureate: Joseph Brodsky’s Strategy for Dealing with Critics and Detractors

In 1962, Joseph Brodsky, a young poet, and Marina, a painter, fell in love in Russia. They shared a passion for art, and soon they had a child together. However, their happy life was short-lived. In 1972, Soviet officials stormed Joseph’s apartment, arrested him, and charged him with anti-Soviet activities. He was exiled from the Soviet Union and never saw Marina again.

Joseph Brodsky’s poetry was well-received by everyone except the Soviet government, which accused him of violating the communist ideology. They slandered him in the papers, lost him his job, and eventually exiled him from the country. It took Brodsky 19 years to return to his homeland after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1987, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature and in 1991, he was appointed as the United States Poet Laureate.

Brodsky’s life is an extraordinary story of perseverance, resilience, and creativity. He was able to turn a negative situation into a positive one and eventually become one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. His life teachings have been compiled into a book called On Grief and Reason: Essays where he shares his strategy for dealing with critics and detractors.

Try not to pay attention to those who try to make life miserable for you

Brodsky advises people not to pay attention to those who want to make their lives miserable. He acknowledges that there will always be people who want to bring you down in life, whether in an official capacity or as self-appointed critics. But it is up to an individual to suffer them, or better still, steer clear of them.

Giving the Shortest Shrift Possible

One of Brodsky’s main strategies for dealing with detractors is to give them the shortest shrift possible. By not dwelling on negative experiences, one avoids helping antagonists extend their existence. Furthermore, by avoiding telling stories of the unjust treatment received, one deprives the oppressor of the satisfaction he or she desires from seeing their treatment being talked about.

Avoid Echoing Negativity

Stories of injustice give life to the negative and extend the existence of an antagonist. Brodsky advises people to avoid talking about negative experiences, no matter how receptive the audience may be. The best thing to happen to bad advice is that it becomes irrelevant, ignored, and forgotten. By dwelling on the negative, one gives a louder voice to negativity and demotes the positive.

Flip the Channel

In addition, Brodsky advises that one should flip the channel. One cannot put the network out of circulation, but one can reduce its ratings. People can spare themselves from dwelling on negative thoughts and experiences that breed unhealthy and unproductive habits that impact their lives negatively. Instead, they should focus on echoing something worth hearing.

The Impact of your Reaction

Brodsky also advises people not to react to what their foes do. The significance or consequence of their actions derives from your reaction. Instead, rush through or past them as if they were yellow and not red lights. Don’t linger on them mentally or verbally; don’t pride yourself on forgiving or forgetting them – do the forgetting first. By prioritizing the forgetting of an event’s unpleasant experience, one spares their brain cells of useless agitation.

Hurting Demons is All That Matters

Finally, Brodsky advises that one should accept the solution that hurts demons. Brodsky recognizes that this solution may not please angels, but hurting demons is all that matters. By not dwelling on negative experiences or talking about them, one cuts off the echo and shortens the demon’s time span.


Joseph Brodsky’s life and teachings are a testament to the power of resilience, creativity, and the ability to turn a negative situation into a positive one. His strategy for dealing with critics and detractors stems from his life experiences and teachings. Instead of dwelling on negative experiences or giving a voice to negativity, one should focus on echoing something worth hearing. By giving the shortest shrift possible to detractors, and by forgetting unpleasant experiences, one can hurt demons and spare their brain cells a lot of unnecessary agitation.

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