Photo by Sonja Anderson
“While others may criticize, how it affects you can be more important than what was said.”
Every day there are lessons we can glean and sometimes from very unexpected places. The other day, a notification came about one of my tweets. For the last few months, I’ve been engaged in a creative exercise of writing short poems and responding to others. Someone was not too fond, to put it nicely, of one of my responses and let me know in very blunt terms. Reading it put me in a somber mood.
As long as I can remember, my typical response to criticism was feeling shame; asking myself, “what is wrong with me”? However, I have also been working on improving those reactions to be more productive and positive. This incident created such an impact that I wanted to share it this week.
Shameful feelings are nothing new for me. In fact, I wrote a book on the subject and how I learned to heal from it. While shame is a topic on which I am fully aware, it does not imply that I am free from ever experiencing it again. Rather, it means that I am learning how better to manage it and lessen the once-tight grip it held over me.
In dealing with this uncomplimentary comment, my default reaction immediately made me feel I was at fault for something. However, in a few moments, I asked myself, “Why are you feeling this way”? and I began to observe and focus on those negative emotions. Oddly enough, this self-reflection dramatically slowed those feelings.
There were plenty of times I’ve received compliments on my tweets and no doubt could have fired back at this adversary. However, people are entitled to their opinions and there was no need to waste time defending my musings. Additionally, what I was most proud of was that this incident became a positive-growth experience.
While I’m not suggesting that each time someone criticizes you your reaction must be the same, it was a great lesson for me. Certainly if someone wrongly attacks you, there may be an urgent need to come to your defense and set the record straight. My particular experience had no influence other than how it made me feel and the best revenge was to transform it into personal growth.
It is easy to get into a shouting match but it takes strength to remain calm and focus on what’s important. Perhaps I should go back and thank that person for those unflattering remarks and progressing my self-improvement.
This week, when an incident causes you grief, “Take a Good Look” and see if there is something to be learned. Becoming a more caring, understanding, and self-aware person will make this world a better place. If you have recently had a similar experience, please share it in the comments.
My thanks again to my friend and photographer, Sonja Anderson, for the beautiful picture that suits this week’s article so well. Find out more about her on Facebook by clicking here.