In addition to following Brene Brown through her words and imitating her ways, I practice this thing I call reciprocity.
Reciprocity is a word that reminds me of core principles that I hope to live by in the heat of my own freak out moments. For example. I get an email which explains to me how I hate Jesus and clearly know nothing about spiritual transformation. I feel automatically defensive, irritated and worried — Is she right? I mean, she could be. This is what happens to anyone who dares to put themselves out there in the world. There will ALWAYS be folks who criticize.
Brene admits in her writings that she used to listen to her critics (even though it is a bad idea and she tries not to do so now). She talks with vulnerability and specificity about her tendency to chase after and try to win over her critics, sometimes to the point of ignoring or dismissing her most intimate and supportive family, friends and team members. I can relate to this almost instinctive drive to defend myself; doubt myself; trust total strangers to know more about me than my own husband!! I can find a million ways to deflect a word of affirmation, but a whiff of criticism can send me into a slump.
But here is where things are starting to change for me. I have chosen to trust Brene Brown’s teachings. At a minimum, I do not reject any of them outright in a fit of judgment if they seem to contradict my own inclinations. She has earned my trust and I am willing to at least test out her theories in my own life. Therefore, I follow her lead when it comes to digesting criticism. Her story and her advice make sense; they jive with what my other teachers and mentors are saying. Now I have to decide: am I willing to change? Admittedly, it is hard for me not to doubt myself when others are telling me I should. Vulnerability teaches me that I can acknowledge that I am tempted to give criticism from strangers sway in my sense of self-worth. There. I said it.
It isn’t enough for me anymore to know this about myself without developing some skills to change my response. How about you? Are you ready to change some aspects of yourself that do not serve you well?
In my next post, I am going to talk about a skill I practice to help me weather criticism in a way that is constructive.