This is a guest article written for Edible Goddess by Lauren Amerson. Lauren is an eclectic, self-taught artist and raw-vegan chef with a background in massage therapy, dance, and yoga. She’s blessed with an abundance of creative energy, a desire to learn, a barefoot non-conformist attitude, Indigo intensity, and a fairy spirit. She’s also 1 of my best girl friends!
I put myself out there a lot with the work that I do and I receive my share of negativity. Let’s be real, though. There’s WAY MORE good coming at me than bad. But it’s the negative stuff that sinks in deep and is hard to deal with. I’ve had moments when I considered deleting all my content and crawling into some metaphorical hole, in order to avoid the harshness. Can you relate? Luckily, you can decide that you aren’t going to let anyone change the way you live your life, convince you to dim your light, or make you feel anything about yourself or your work, that you don’t believe to be true. In this article, we will explore why living authentically and sharing your gifts is absolutely top priority, and how to survive ‘putting yourself out there’ in your work and in your life! I’ll share tips and perspective shifts for dealing effectively with criticism, negative feedback, and more so that your amazingness never stops!
So why is living authentically, shining your light, and being your amazing self so darn important? Happiness. That’s why. Being yourself is the whole point. The most basic joy in life is being yourself and interacting with others being themselves. You can live your life being you or you can live your life trying to modify the real you. This effects others, too. When you don’t do your thing and contribute your true unique gifts, personality and thoughts to the world, then you are depriving others of it and that’s not cool either. Your job is not to make sure everyone (or anyone) likes you. Your one job is to live authentically. Period. If you compromise your authenticity for others approval, then you are now playing a game. Play it if you want, but you can never win. Being you is top priority.
When you shine your light, some people will see that light and freak out. They may feel threatened, jealous, intimidated, defensive, insecure, disappointed in themselves, or they may not like what you are doing or agree with you at all. At times, people may act unconsciously, take their crap out on you or try to prove their passionate point by trying to make you wrong. Sometimes they don’t know the impact of what they are saying or doing. Most of the time, they are simply reacting from their own issues and it has nothing to do with you. People can have bad days, get stressed, don’t sleep enough, have people treating them badly, don’t know how to deal with their emotions, and so on. You can live authentically and happily despite how others act toward you. The Albert Einstein quote says it nicely, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
Despite popular belief, playing small does not keep you safe from other people’s criticism, critiques, rudeness or disapproval. Criticism will happen no matter what you do, because you can’t control what other people do or how they respond to you. They respond to you through their own filters. By choosing to be small, you give your power away. When you shrink your energy and give away your power you actually make yourself weak, more vulnerable and remain without the tools to face negativity in your life. Don’t play small. Have the courage to be big and bright, powerful and unafraid to live authentically. The key is to develop some simple skills and perspectives for dealing with and processing criticism, critiques, rudeness or disapproval when it shows up. In no particular order:
#1 Don’t Take it Personal
In The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, one of the four principles is “Don’t Take Anything Personally”. This is so simple but so powerful. Another person’s response to you is a reflection of what’s going on in themselves, not a reflection of you. With some practice, you can feel more free to create, share and be authentic without any concern for other’s positive or negative responses. It has nothing to do with you. If you can remember this principle and the perspective that it offers, you will be free from the burden of other people’s judgements and reactions to you. Whenever you find yourself on the receiving end of someone’s negativity, remind yourself of this truth and their effect will wear off quickly. Learn to not take things personally, and shine bright as hell no matter what.
#2 Centering Technique
When you put yourself out there and then someone sends some negativity your way, it’s natural to respond to that. Maybe it’s anger, resentment, frustration, sadness, doubt, etc. This can bring you down if you let it, so, it’s important to have the awareness to know when you’re reacting intensely and when emotions are taking over. This is one of the ways I find my meditation practice has actually helped me in daily life. Being able to observe yourself, especially when there’s an emotional disturbance, is invaluable to your confidence and sanity.
When you notice that you are responding to negativity, have at least one dependable technique that you can use to get centered, such as: deep breathing, repeating a mantra or a quote, going outside in nature, dancing, singing, meditating, exercise. Suppressing a natural response you have is harmful. It’s better to acknowledge it and then work to move the energy with intention so that you can process what you are feeling and get perspective about it. Once you get good at this, you can shake off a rude criticism in minutes.
When someone is being crappy to you, the common reaction is to feel like a victim, often followed by anger. Of course, it’s a justified feeling and there’s nothing wrong with feeling that initially. If you use these other tools to process what it stirs up in you, and begin to shift your perspective, you can begin to feel neutral compassion. I used to get so annoyed when people on motorcycles would make tons of unnecessary noise as they sat at a stop light or drove by. It actually made me angry and I thought they were just being immature and inconsiderate for being so invasive and disruptive and sometimes startling the crap out of me or hurting my ears. A friend suggested having compassion for them because those people must be desperate for attention or love to be doing something so obnoxious that no one could possibly ignore them. Interesting. That may not be true about every loud motorcyclist, but the perspective is helpful.
When someone is hurtful or rude or obnoxious, you can eventually begin to feel compassion for them, if you can think of them as someone who is responding to some imbalance, negativity, or lack in their own life and they don’t know how to better deal with their inner issues. Asking what is behind this person’s action is a great reality check. Everyone is fighting their own battle. That doesn’t excuse their behavior at all, but it can help you diffuse your own anger or resentment toward them. Generally, the more hateful a person is, the more pain they have inside. Don’t compromise your joy because of someone else’s pain. Shift your perspective, have compassion, and move on.
#4 Appreciate Constructive Criticism
Sometimes people can actually give us valuable constructive criticism, so be prepared to receive it and appreciate it. It can be annoying or feel hurtful if it’s given when you haven’t asked for it. But, learning to distinguish when someone’s opinion might actually be worth considering is a very helpful skill. Are you willing to admit when criticism is warranted? Are you willing to learn from it? You’ve got to be ok with not being perfect, or even being wrong.
Seeing yourself as a work in progress, always developing and changing and growing,makes it easier to admit when there’s truth in a critique instead of resenting it because it hurts your ego. This takes a lot of maturity and humbleness. It also means you may be confronted with your own feelings of guilt, low self-esteem or dissatisfaction, and whatever else comes up when someone points out a flaw or mistake.
Being able to process your feelings is a basic life skill and many people lack it. You are responsible for showing up and being the god/goddess that you are. There is no excuse to not learn these basic skills to get passed any bumps in the road on your path. In order to benefit from this, you must consciously do this inner work. When you are in a tizzy about a horrible comment or phone call or email or bad review, that is when you whip this out and do it.
Raising your vibes when you are drenched with emotion is hard as hell, but now you have some solid guidelines to get started. Here are the bullet points for you to reference when you need it. Print it or write it out and keep where you will see it so that you consistently implement these strategies. Add your own helpful strategies to the list as you learn what works for you!
#1 Don’t take anything personal – Another person’s response to you is a reflection of what’s going on in themselves, not a reflection of you. Release any attachment to another’s response to you.
#2 Centering Technique – When you notice that you are responding to negativity, have at least one technique that you can use to get centered. Deep breathing, repeating a mantra or a quote, going outside in nature, dancing, or a meditating.
#3 Compassion – When someone has done or said something hurtful or rude, think of them as someone who is responding to some imbalance, negativity, or lack in their own life. It doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it can help you diffuse any anger or resentment toward them.
#4 Appreciate constructive criticism – Sometimes people can actually give us valuable constructive criticism, so be prepared to receive it and appreciate it. Be ok with not being perfect, or even being wrong. See yourself as a work in progress, always developing and changing and growing, and making mistakes.