‘Be careful what you identify yourself with for you may well misinterpret it for who you really are, and then feel injured by something that should not matter’.
That’s a comment I recently made on a social media site after someone took exception to a well-intentioned comment, an honest observation which was completely in context with the conversation and meant to be of assistance ~ one that indeed could have been appreciated for its value if it hadn’t been taken personally. The drama resulting from that knee jerk reaction, and there is always an element of drama whether it be big or small, just wasn’t worth it. There was no value or lesson in it ~ it was wasted energy, and achieved nothing beyond creating negative feelings. All that could then be done was to draw a line under it with goodwill, and then, let it go with a great big blessing ~ you can’t beat yourself up about good intentions that went astray.
Now there’s a big difference between a well-intentioned observation and an opinion or judgement that is meant to harm. Many years ago when I was prac teaching I was at the receiving end of daily assessment and judgement. Being inexperienced in the classroom, much of what was obvious to the person doing the assessing and judging was not so obvious to me. While I may not have agreed with all of it ~ some of it was very subjective, even picky ~ I took every word on board, and examined and considered it because I wanted to improve. I didn’t take exception to any of it because it had nothing to do with my worthiness. It did however have everything to do with my desire to do better. And nothing has really changed. While I will never need anyone’s approval ~ as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission”, I still have the desire to improve … in all areas of my life. So sometimes it’s worth listening ~ I would much rather be open to a well-intentioned honest observation than dismiss the opportunity to do better. Sometimes, you’ve just got to say, “Yeah you’re right, and I’m willing to work on that”. After all, when we know better, we do better.
When we are young and inexperienced knee jerk reactions are understandable ~ we’ve all had them! It’s part of the process of learning and growing. However when we understand growth on the highest level it’s easy, and in fact a true blessing, to embrace self-improvement no matter where the motivation comes from. A wise friend, T.W. Smith, recently coined these most beautiful words ~ ‘I embrace correction for it nourishes my soul peacefully while allowing me to be in tune with my destiny’. I could not have chosen more perfect words!
In fact, when you feel secure within yourself and know who you truly are, you start to view yourself so differently you begin to see that there is indeed more value and clarity in a considered response rather than a knee jerk reaction. And you will not only be able to release any feelings of negativity, you will even be thankful for a comment that may once have upset you. As Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements says: ‘There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you don’t take anything personally’.
I have a dear friend who is very spontaneously direct. She’s so straightforward and honest it never occurs to her not to say what she thinks. We have been good friends for over 30 years and not once have I taken anything personally, and neither does she. It’s just not worth it. I know her intentions are pure, and I appreciate her honesty. After all, isn’t it better when we can all be honest with each other? I’m certainly honest and I’d much rather have honest friends. It’s a long time since I’ve been sensitive about anything and tiptoeing around on eggshells is not my thing, especially when I know my intentions come from the heart. The bottom line is I’m much happier when everyone around me is straight up … I learn a lot more that way!
So if you know who you truly are and what you offer comes from a loving caring heart, then identify with that and let go of the need to feel injured, or to justify or defend yourself for it serves no purpose. Spend your energy loving and improving every bit of the real you instead, and you will see the value of what comes to you! Oh, and one more thing … lighten up!
Inara Hawley © 2013