Process of Illumination

Me… Daring Greatly

Instead of continuing with my “Seven Years Later” series today, I want to address a theme I noticed this week, which really got me thinking and helped me to become just a little clearer about who I am and what I want.

Over the weekend, I was given some feedback by two people in relation to what they read on my blog. In the first instance, the feedback was from a person whom I have met recently and who is just beginning to get to know me.  The second was from someone whom I have never met. From what I understand, both people have read only one or two of my recent posts. The feedback from each of the people was very different and about completely separate issues and yet, in both instances, I became defensive upon hearing them. 

For those of you who know me well, or who have been long-time readers, you know that I’m all about owning my own stuff, so when I noticed that I had become defensive, I knew that I had to look at why these two encounters had activated my threat response. In the first instance, it came up in a discussion while the person and I were together and we were able to talk about it face to face, which helped a lot. By the end of the discussion, we had come to somewhat of an understanding, however there was still something unresolved about it for me which left me feeling a bit puzzled and uncomfortable. It wasn’t until the next morning, when I received the feedback from the second person and had a similar (but much stronger) reaction, that I realized that maybe these two instances had unfolded back-to-back so that I would be able to identify the theme and learn something important.

It goes without saying that the reason I became defensive about the feedback I was given is because I did not agree with their assessments. However, what concerned me was that I had let it get to me. I’m sure neither of these people were ill-intentioned and were simply pointing out some things they had noticed, so why was I taking it personally?

What I discovered may seem pretty obvious but, as I’ve said many times before, when our threat response is triggered, for whatever reason, we’re in our “old brain” and are, therefore, purely subjective and irrational. We need time to let our cortisol levels return  to normal so that we can assess the situation objectively and rationally.

So, after receiving the second person’s feedback and letting myself experience what I was feeling, fully and completely, I reached out to a friend to get an objective opinion. She validated what I was feeling and then went on to give me her own assessment. We agreed that what was bothering me was that the comments that each of these people had made indicated that they had made assumptions about me, based on what they had read. In addition, they didn’t seem to get the “point” of my blog which was probably due to the fact that a) they didn’t know me and b) they had only read one or two posts.

It all boiled down to the fact that these comments hit my “You Don’t Get Me” button which triggered my fear of disconnection.

This awareness, of course, helped me to feel much more objective and I knew that a reality check was in order. I needed to remind myself of what I know to be true so I could have an understanding of what the “big lesson” was, in all of this.

Here is how I processed it:

  1. It is my choice to write a public blog.
  2. My blog is personal. It’s about me and my own life experience.
  3. The primary reason I write my blog is for me… it is a journal to process what I live though and to gain insight and wisdom as a result. That is why it’s called Process of Illumination.
  4. I do not need any special skills or qualifications for this. I am the expert on my own life.
  5. The secondary reason I write my blog is to challenge myself to be authentic and vulnerable and it takes an incredible amount of courage to “show up and be seen” in this way, week after week. I am very proud of that.
  6. My blog is a labour of love and an honest expression of my soul. It is not a professional pursuit, nor is it a means, by which, I hope to influence my circumstances. I do not strive for perfection or approval or external validation of any kind especially in the writing of this blog. I make mistakes. I am imperfect and I am enough, just as I am, in any moment. This is the whole point of #5.
  7. The tertiary reason I write my blog is to (hopefully) inspire others towards greater Self-Love and help guide them along their journey, and yet, I realize that this is neither my responsibility or within my control.
  8. There will be people who are not comfortable with, don’t agree with, appreciate, approve of or understand any of the above.
  9. Everyone has a right to their own opinion.
  10. Some of these people may even feel they want to share their opinion and, because of point #1, I must be prepared for that.
  11. The only opinions that actually matter to me are those which, as Brené Brown says, are from people who “love me for my strengths and struggles…know that I’m trying to be Wholehearted [and also know (and accept) that I’m imperfect].

Brené also says:

If you are not in the arena and getting your butt kicked on occasion, I’m not interested in your feedback. Period.” 

A reminder of the only people whose opinions really matter to me – My Kids

To me, this means that, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, if you have never put yourself out there and shared your personal story with people who may not know you, perhaps you might try to imagine what that must be like before you decide to offer your opinion. I’m not saying don’t give feedback. I’m just saying to get a good picture of yourself standing in those shoes before you do.

Having said all that, I want to be clear that I am always grateful for any feedback I receive, especially when it makes me take stock and get clearer about where I’m at. Even though it caused me some discomfort, it was a real gift to be challenged in a way that helped me to identify an important value of mine and to be given an opportunity to take ownership of it.

And that’s all I will say about that :)

I’ll leave you with Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man In The Arena” quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”