I had a spiritual awakening this week. I have been blessed by the people who read my blog and follow me on social media. Writing for me is cathartic and it’s a joy to hear how my words positively impact others. We all have encounters with critics. A few comments I read this week gave me pause. So I did what I usually do when I feel ruffled; I sought guidance, did some introspection, opened my Bible, journaled and dove into the discomfort. Here’s what I learned.
On loving the haters:
I wish that dealing with critics also know as “haters” is as simple as saying, “haters gonna hate” and that would be that. Even though people may disapprove and judge you, it still hurts. Researcher Brene’ Brown says in so many words, if you try hard enough for long enough, you will fall face down in the ring. It’s what happens after you fall that matters. How you get up matters. How you grow from the experience of falling matters.
My bother, Josh, gave me advice I won’t soon forget. I hastily told him how I was wronged and why I am justified in what I do and he stopped me mid sentence. He said in his even-toned and non-judgmental voice, “You’re defending yourself. You don’t need to defend yourself to me or anyone else. You need to decide what you’re doing is okay and good.” Whoa….I sighed deeply and with that counsel, he poured water on my fire and I felt relieved.
He asked me some pointed questions and like most good therapists his questions helped me answer my own. My favorite question took the zing out of my zinger. It was this, “How do I let my anger and need for approval be overcome by love?” The answer was and always is…empathy. Empathy that leads to understanding and compassion that allows me to learn, even from those who criticize.
I read a verse this morning that was so perfect and complimentary to my coffee. It goes like this, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5
It was an excellent reminder to cool my jets, breathe, and not retaliate, but replace the junk with joy and grace; heck yes, I felt like God was saying keep going, keep doing what you’re doing, you’re on the right track.
On courage and putting yourself out there:
Let me preface this section by saying that the word courage comes from the latin word for heart and it means to tell your story of who you are with your whole heart. Gosh I love that imagery, could there be a better word!?
Blogging for me has become an extension of my work as a marriage and family therapist. In therapy I have found that being transparent with my clients is essential and the authentic and empathic me. This transparency allows me to express my thoughts with the desire that someone else may connect to them.
Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. What unravels connection like none other is shame and the fear of being disconnected. The reality is we all experience shame. There is something in us all that makes us question. So how do we overcome the struggle? Have courage to be imperfect, to make mistakes, to open ourselves up to vulnerability even if it’s uncomfortable. Stay authentic to who you are, not to what your inner perfectionist thinks you should be.
On worthiness and whole-hearted living:
So I’m going to “fan-girl” out on Brene’ Brown because she’s a genius and woman of grit and grace. Her research shows there is only one difference between the people who are living whole-hearted lives and those who are not. That difference is just this, those who have a strong sense of love and belonging simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. That’s the ticket to the birthplace of love, creativity and connection. If we truly believe that we are enough, that we are worthy…what does judging other do for us? Nothing. If we truly believe that we are enough, what is stopping you from accomplishing your dreams? If we truly believe we are enough, we can get up from the pain of being knocked down and continue to love and grow. This my friends is whole-hearted living and the only kind of living I want to do.
I hope you found this encouraging for your own walk in life. If you want to read any of Brene’ Brown’s books you can click here and watch her legendary TED talk below, which this post was heavily influenced by.