Recently I was asked to give a presentation for my work. Though I thought I had prepared well, it was not well received. Some of the criticism was even quite harsh. I know I should be able to “ride with this” with detachment, but it has not been as easy as I would like. Do you have any ideas that might help me?
Paul, Santa Fe, NM. USA
Spiritual practice is ultimately learning to apply what we know even in difficult circumstances. During this process we want to honor our human frailties, even as we remain open to transforming them. Though there are a number of methods and approaches that might be successful in helping you do this, I often begin with the psychological level. This involves simply embracing the hurt and disappointment as a parent embraces a child who has taken a bruising fall. Though it is not always popular for men to take this approach in regard to their own emotions, this comforting inward embrace, lets us know we are OK, we can cope.
Next, it is important to consider the lessons lying underneath the disappointment. This requires the capacity to detach from the emotional impact and lift into a space where you can look at what is happening with a more detached and impersonal perspective. Though it might feel natural to simply focus on those who criticized you, it is best to begin with a careful analysis of your own part in the process. What were the strengths and weaknesses in your presentation? Were there parts that you feel you did well on, no matter how it was received? For example, maybe you took more time to prepare than usual, something to be commended regardless of the impact. Or, as far as weaknesses may have been concerned, maybe you failed to read the real needs of your audience, something you might want to research and prepare more carefully for in the future.
After this process of detachment and analysis, it is important to take it a step further, into the spiritual level. This includes attempting to understand the deeper motivations underneath the criticism you received. For example, criticism designed only to tear you down, instead of used to help you move on to your next step, is never helpful. Destructive criticism is not the same as criticism used in some spiritual traditions, like Zen, as a wake up call. A father may speak sharply to a child who has entered a street unwittingly. Though the child may feel hurt, he is grateful when he sees the impending danger of the car the father was altering him to. So, try to get a sense of how the criticism directed at you was used. Is it waking you up to become more professional in your approach? Or, is it tearing you down out of jealousy or ignorance on the part of others? If it is waking you up, be grateful to these teachers. If it is tearing you down, exercise your compassion. Those who employ such methods, usually do so because they have been treated harshly in their own lives, and do not know another way to be.
Finally, move into a process of putting the entire event into an infinite perspective. Though we may tend to forget this step when impacted emotionally, and have to work our way back into remembering it, it is the most helpful step of all. Start by considering a span of five years and ask yourself how important will this event really be in your life? Move on and contemplate to a stretch of ten years, twenty years, a hundred years, even a thousand years of time. Notice how rapidly the event dissolves into insignificance. From this space, come back, and ask yourself, “If this was the last day of your life, what would you really want to remember about this day?”
Recall three specific positive qualities or events. These may include: a loving moment with a spiritual teacher, a lover, a relative, a friend; a beautiful scene in nature; a piece of music, a time of triumph, anything that reminds you again of the “good, the true, and the beautiful.” When you have recalled three specific items you would want to remember on your last day on Earth, you might even want to close with a prayer, meditation, or mantra (spiritual chant or phrase). As you do so remember that you are an infinite being, and not the little problems that ebb and flow in your life. Reabsorb yourself into this spiritual identity and let it dissolve the small tribulations of your life.
Dr. Lisa Love
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About Dr. Lisa Love
Best-selling author of BEYOND THE SECRET: Spiritual Power and the Law of Attraction. She is also a Life, Relationship, Law of Attraction, and Tranformational coach. There’s a reason my clients tell me by working with me they get major breakthroughs fast! Decades of coaching and counseling experience combined with my extensive training and work with clients from all backgrounds help my clients make shifts in a rapid way. Contact me to discover what I can do for you.
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