The dictionary lists Zoilism as nagging, unjust criticism.

Zolius was a Greek grammarian and a cynical philosopher. Carping, nagging criticism seems to have been his forte. His most famous work is a monograph called Homeric Questions in which he analyzed Homer’s work and pointed our many errors. Since then, his name is associated with unfair, malignant and harsh criticism. He is immortalized in a proverb which says: Every poet has his Zoilus.

Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.

~ Andy Warhol

It is possible, dispassionately speaking, that Zoilus’s criticism of Homer’s work was not entirely unjustified. Looking at it from the view point of a puritan, there might be places where Homer’s work fell short of the ideal. But to focus on the shortfalls while entirely ignoring the accomplishments, is very unfair.

When you evaluate yourself, beware lest you indulge in Zoilism. Don’t evaluate your actions and results by what was not done and forget what was. If you promise yourself to workout in the morning and lose the mind before mattress battle for two days out of the five you were to jog, be glad that you managed to jog three days out of five. That’s not a mean feat, not at all. It is certainly a vast improvement on zero jogging days out of five, isn’t it?

The words with which a child’s (or adult’s) heart is poisoned, whether through malice or through ignorance, remain branded in his memory, and sooner or later they burn his soul.

~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Some years ago, a business associate tried to din a truth into my head; a truth I found difficult to absorb then, alas. She kept saying, Praise, don’t perfect! She recommended not only that I adopt this injunction in dealing with other team mates but also that I use the same (objective) benchmark for myself. No marks for guessing which part I was able to do and where I failed.

It is only now that I have learned the very essential trait of letting myself off the hook.

It’s easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It’s a lot more difficult to perform one.

~ Chuck Palahniuk

You demand perfection of yourself. You beat yourself for the shortfalls in your own expectations of yourself. Your expectations are relentless; no matter how much you try to cover them, they keep expanding inexorably. Once you develop a Zoilistic mindset, you will always be able to find plenty of rope to hang yourself with. In your blind race to catch up with the elusive perfection, you never notice what a mean and unpleasant character you’ve become- to yourself.

But instead of spending our lives running towards our dreams, we are often running away from a fear of failure or a fear of criticism.

~ Eric Wright

When will you pat your own back? When will you reward yourself for the miles you traveled over hot and dusty roads- with a heavy stone chained to your ankle? When will you look back on your own life and see, not the errors and the deficits but the rightness and excesses.

When will you take your circumstances into account when you evaluate your performance? When will you understand that you did what you did despite mitigating circumstances? If you don’t appreciate your success- even though they might be short of the ideal you were aiming at- who will?

The best antidote to Zoilism is Praise, don’t perfect!

I am my own biggest critic. Before anyone else has criticized me, I have already criticized myself. But for the rest of my life, I am going to be with me and I don’t want to spend my life with someone who is always critical. So I am going to stop being my own critic. It’s high time that I accept all the great things about me.

~ C. JoyBell C.





Dear Reader,

This was the last post of this series. I hope to continue meeting you on these pages. I would love it if you would stay in touch via the many social media channels. Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. I hope my words were able to give you some clarity and to show you an unobstructed road ahead. Here’s wishing you success in your journey to your North Star!

May love and light accompany you as you forge ahead.



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21 thoughts on “Zoilism”

  1. Praise dont perfect , that was the perfect thing to say U know 🙂 Thanks
    Congos on finishing the challenge and this zoilism has got me thinking too. I do that – Patting my back and don’t wait for some one else coz unless until I pat myself I can’t move fwd!
    For now patting myself for finishing the challenge 🙂
    good luck
    hope to see u around

  2. Perfect post to end this series of posts with! And I say this not only to praise but also because I really feel it so. The message here is so important to remember, I like that Palahnuik quote so very much! Critics do play an important part in the larger scheme of things, but undue, harsh criticism doesn’t help anyone. Really. And it is not only true for the individual, same goes for the society/nation too. Incidentally I said something similar on my Z post too…but reading your post now gives me a deeper view on why criticism doesn’t work when it comes to changing anything, starting with oneself. And I got to learn about an interesting piece of literary criticism history too 🙂 Thanks for this post, and for the whole A-Z series. Inspiring indeed. And I look forward to staying in touch through our blogs/FB 🙂

  3. Hey, Dagny, you did it again. As soon as I uploaded my post for Z, I told myself, that wasn’t as good as any of the ones that went before. For one, it was much shorter than the others. And it seem to say nothing at all. What a horrible way to end, I told myself.
    And then I come here, and realise that that was not Cynthia talking to me at all, but Zoilus, the Greek. Time to show him the door, and appreciate myself for all the posts that met my expectations.
    Gracias, Dagny, for all your posts, for completing this challenge so spectacularly, and for being the soul sister I haven’t met yet.
    Hasta la vista.

    1. Zoilus does indeed overstay his welcome; intrusive little brute, him. Give him the boot sounds like a fine idea to me. His take on things is far from sweet.

      Hasta la vista girl!

  4. Enjoyed reading all your posts in this challenge Dagny. Some of them really have resonated with me like the one on Nacre. Thank you for that. Now, I can move to your other posts at my own pace 🙂 And many thanks for reading my posts and for all your encouraging & motiavting words throughout this challenge. I truly appreciaite it. Thanks again! Pleasure to know a bit of you through your writings.

    1. It was a pleasure to have met you too Prathima. I have loved reading your posts too. There is much in common between us.

      Thank you for being such a regular visitor to my blog. I hope I continue to see you here. 🙂

  5. great post! It’s difficult not to constantly nitpick at yourself, especially when you’re self employed.

    Congrats on finishing the A-Z Challenge, from another survivor!

  6. Awesome read! Never heard of this word before! And it’s true criticism is always prompted more often than praise or appreciation,..you hear the latter less! Congrats on the finish! Fellow Survivor!

  7. Praise not perfect, what you did despite mitigating circumstances..thanks a ton, Dagny for such inspiring words..as humans,we have a tendency to push the self against the wall..which is bad.
    Congrats for the A to Z and absolutely love ur posts..will mail u:)

  8. A wonderful wrap up post. You have introduce me to so many words during this challenge and it is an absolute delight to read you. “It is high time I accept all things great about me” unless I am not living in a bubble.

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