“There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” ~ Aristotle
For anyone who has undertaken an inner transformation journey, grown or evolved they know all too well that personal transformation often goes hand-in-hand with criticism or judgment from the people in their lives.
When people in our lives become accustomed to us being a certain way they may feel uncomfortable and even threatened by our new self. Since they are used to relating to us from the person we used to be, it can feel slightly unfamiliar for them to interact with the new person who has emerged.
For the most part the self-explorer gets used to this. Since they are still becoming accustomed to navigating their way through life and relationships from a perspective that is not like the one they used to operate from, it begins to become a learning experience for everyone involved.
But, no one is perfect. There’s always going to be that time where they find themselves defending their new beliefs and perhaps even trying to desperately convince others of their new discoveries about life.
If you have found yourself letting another person’s questioning of your new transformation journey get the best of you, don’t worry, you are hardly alone.
In order to not only survive the criticism by the people in our lives but also use it as a very important tool in our personal development journey, we must do probably the hardest thing to do when one feels attacked… say thank you.
“If you are really aware every soul is a mirror and a teacher.” ~ Unknown
It’s not going to be easy. Actually, it’s probably one of the toughest pills to swallow in this whole self-awareness process. But the fact of the matter is, if someone’s judgment of us has the power to bring about a strong emotional reaction such as anger or defensiveness there is a part of us that feels threatened by it.
There’s a part of us that is still clinging to an idea about ourselves that it needs to defend its position against said judgment. Our ego feels that it has been challenged therefore it needs to bring out the guns and get prepared for war.
What we are truly trying to hide from the other person and most likely ourselves as well, is that we fear that what they are saying may actually be true. Think about it. Suppose someone has criticized you for something you are completely confident about and know for a fact is not true about yourself, would you be mad?
No, because there is not one single ounce of you that is buying into its validity. Or suppose a small child challenges you to a fist fight. Is there any part of you that would consider for the tiniest second to fight back? Absolutely not.
You wouldn’t because there is no part of you that would feel threatened by a child. When we look at things from this perspective we can see that anytime we find ourselves “fighting back”, or defending ourselves it can only be because either we fear that what another person is saying could actually be right, or our sense of self (ego) has been challenged.
Now before we start to feel really ashamed of ourselves because let’s face it, each and every person who has undertaken this path has gone through this at one time or another, we must focus on how we can actually use this to our advantage.
In a study in the Review of General Psychology, 2001, researchers find that perceived “bad” or “negative” events or emotions can actually be more beneficial to us because they not only are more motivating than perceived “good” emotions but also, people that are able to overcome such things evolve quicker and are easily able to adapt to change and new circumstances.
Instead of looking at ourselves as a “victim” of another’s behavior, we can instead take their judgment of us from the perspective that it has happened FOR us. It is trying to show us where we may still need work. For example, let’s say our goal is to become more patient.
Instead of expecting that we just are going to magically become patient, we are instead given opportunities to practice being patient. So every traffic jam, every conversation with our co-worker that just never seems to get to the point, are gifts given to us to help us achieve our goal.
Finding the “lesson” inside all our interactions can become something that we embrace completely because we soon find that every fight or argument we find ourselves in is actually a chance for us to drop another limited belief about life or ourselves.
Soon it becomes automatic, we find ourselves getting upset or threatened and our automatic reaction begins to turn our attention inward and identify where our ego is attached. We actually become…. gasp… thankful for criticism!
“Love is the absence of judgment.” ~ Dalai Lama
The final judgment to overcome is the judgment of the one who judges. For the person on the spirituality/ self-awareness journey we know this one all too well. We have become so enamored with the idea that we shouldn’t judge others, that we begin judging those who judge.
However, at some point this concept of judging a judgmental person is one that must be overcome as well. Unconditional love cannot exist side by side with judgment. The only thing to be done at this point is to love all of it.
Love every judgment you receive from another because it is only meant to unveil another part of the illusory self/ego that you were clinging to. Love the judgment you made on the person who judged you because to love is to be aware of it.
When we simply observe the judgment in our heads without identifying with it, we find that we no longer cling to our judgments nor to the judgments about us made by others. Just like our thoughts are not OUR thoughts, but just merely thoughts, so are theirs. Everything is calling us back to acceptance and love.
It is only when we become completely grateful for all criticism that we are able to rise above them and an inner confidence begins to shine. We are confident and grateful because we realize that each situation in our life is only happening to teach us something about ourselves that will ultimately help us find unconditional love for ourselves which eventually spills over to others.
Breaking free from judgment