Growing up I was always taught never to criticize someone verbally for their beliefs no matter how far they differ from mine. My parents taught me to always stand firm in my own beliefs about my decisions and not to allow others to sway me at any cost. During those years of galloping my pony across an open field it never occurred to me someone could criticize me for what I do, think or believe; it just wasn’t in my consciousness. Period.
Throughout my high school and college years when I began to read more newspapers and celebrity magazines I participated in judging others for their choice in clothing or their actions, not really consciously understanding what I was doing. During my journey of discovering myself I went through many periods of criticizing myself for not being able to meditate or sit in stillness. My lower self beat the real me up so badly I was often left in a puddle of tears on the floor. Even today I have times where I criticize myself but it begins and ends with the thought, there is no action attached to the belief my mind has created. I see now I criticize and judge myself less because I do not do the same to others. What other people believe or think is really none of my business. However, recently being severely criticized for my behavior left me humbled, raw and open to a new way of viewing the experience I had been a part of.
There I was, sitting in a chair thinking I was going to discuss my life with someone who had asked. I will leave names and relations out of the story for respect of those involved. One person sat down next to me and asked me when I was ever going to change and how I had hurt everyone in the room for the last three years due to my time away whilst dealing with a divorce and building a new life. Keep in mind, I have never even so much as been pulled aside for being rude or mean to anyone so this was a brand new experience for me. For two hours I took a verbal lashing, said nothing or very little, and allowed the others to share their experience of me. I realized in one moment early on I was not responsible for the experience of other people; I am simply on concerned with witnessing my own behavior. Timm (my partner) looked at me in shock as if I might get up and walk out but I gave him a look of “it’s alright…let’s just allow this to run its course”. After everyone shared I was left feeling a little bruised but mainly I felt a deep sense of acceptance and absolutely no desire to defend myself. After all, why would I ever attempt to change someone’s experience of me if they are so certain I am a particular way? I cannot do anything about the way someone feels about me and I know enough to understand it is mostly a projection of their own inner interior. When I got home I burst into tears and had to release the energy that I had taken on in that room. I know some people who have a very high consciousness that can take the heat like that and had I not been aligned with mySelf that day the outcome may have been very different. I was just glad I was able to cry tears of release instead of pain.
You may be thinking this is an odd thing to share and what in the world does it have to do with living mindfully? Well, I am sharing this because it is simply my way of giving back. If my experience can help someone see a similar situation differently and rise above the mind; which believes in good and bad then I have fulfilled a purpose today. If I didn’t instill the practice of mindfulness everyday I would have walked out of that meeting or said a few things I would have regretted. Instead I didn’t, I sat tall and noble and listened deeply to what others thought of me. I was in a state of acceptance and knowing that the people in from of me were not mean, rude or critical…they were human and I am well aware I teach others how to treat me.
So what now? Well, I don’t engage as much with those people however I still love them deeply. I don’t find myself moving towards those who cannot accept me for who I am. If I saw them on the street I would hug them and help them if they asked, but I would not participate in allowing the same sort of experience happen again. This is all part of the alignment I talked about in the last blog. If a person or group is not aligned with my inner compass then I simply don’t lean towards them. Acceptance is a beautiful thing and where there is no judgment, there is inner peace. If only it were so easy but we can practice and keep moving forward until this state of acceptance becomes natural and flows like water within our being.
I hope you have found this helpful if you have ever experienced being criticized for something you have said or done. If you know someone who may be going through a similar situation I encourage you to share this post with him or her as a supportive tool. I will say this is the hardest practice I have ever taken part in and accepting negative feedback from anyone is never easy but I can tell you as someone who used to react instead of respond, it is possible to stand in the heat, peacefully.
From my heart,