Using criticism as a growth tool
Wednesday, January 06, 2016
This is worth considering: If a criticism hurts you, that means that you are defending against what you believe to be true and are in denial about. It doesn’t mean that you have to realize they are right yet, it just means that you will argue with them, justify, defend, and sometimes even see your friends and family as an enemy, until you do realize that they could be right. Your body will let you know very clearly, through feelings, when you are defending against your own truth coming at you from someone else’s mouth and your own mind. If you don’t pay attention, the mind that created the feelings through its defenses and/or justifications must continue to do so through mental and eventually physical attack, isolation, self-hatred, depression. It’s not right or wrong; it just is how the unenlightened mind and body works until it doesn’t and it isn’t intelligent. War with the self or anyone else is not intelligent. It doesn’t work. If you’re really interested in your own peace of mind, you’ll become more and more aware of that sense of wanting to defend yourself against a criticism, you’ll simply observe it. And eventually you’ll be fascinated to find the missing pieces of yourself that your critic is helpfully pointing out, and you’ll ask him to tell you more, so that you can be enlightened even further. That critic is always a friend if you’re looking for an honest one.
Criticism is an immense gift for those who are interested in self-realization. For those who aren’t, welcome to the hell of war, welcome to hating (or in its milder form, resenting) your neighbors, your partner, your children, your boss, yourself, your life, and the job of the relentless I-know mind. When you open your arms to criticism, you can become your own direct path to freedom, because you can’t change us or what we think about you. You are your only way to stand with a friend as a friend, even when she perceives you as an enemy. And until you can be intimate with us, whatever we think of you, your Work isn’t done, and you must continue in your life to resist what is true.
After you’ve done inquiry for a while, you can listen delightedly, openly, to any criticism, without defense or justification. It’s the end of trying to control what can’t ever be controlled: another person’s thoughts and perception. The mind rests, and life becomes kinder, and then totally kind, even in the midst of apparent turmoil. When you’re aware of being a student, everyone in the world becomes your teacher, including you. In the absence of defensiveness, gratitude is all that’s left.» ~ Byron Katie