Criticism makes me cringe. There, I’ve said it.
I’m a Life Coach and a businesswoman who should be taking constructive feedback and up-cycling it into a highly successful career. But I don’t want it.
Well, the fully mature adult who’s hiding in there somewhere wants it. But the vulnerable, exposed, raw part of me is dominant right now and it’s trembling.
My partner joined in on one of my meditation classes for the first time this morning. Afterwards, I scanned his face for signs of relaxation and enjoyment (or discomfort and disappointment).
He gave me some constructive feedback. I took it in and then withdrew.
I am a perfectionist when it comes to my classes (okay, not just my classes). I get anxious beforehand, hoping that no noise will disturb the peace, praying that the internet connection will do its job, that I’ll do a good job, and that my clients are happy.
I once held it together while holding an online meditation class for a multinational company during a thunderstorm with a leak in the room. But that’s less meditation and relaxation and more disaster management.
I work hard and prepare well. I know I’m good at what I do.
But I also know that I could be better. And the way that I could become better is to care a little less. To be more present. To relax and enjoy. Exactly what I’m instructing my participants to do.
However, I’m hyper-critical of my mistakes and I’m hyper-sensitive to criticism from others. Work and preparation are excellent but I’ve been trying to control the uncontrollable (others, the internet, the weather) and it’s making me sweat.
I think of my sister who has worked in kitchens. If a dish wasn’t perfect, the head chef would fling it across the room, smashing crockery and wasting ingredients. My sister didn’t take it personally.
We come from the same household. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I take it on the chin? Constructive criticism is GOOD for me and for my career.
As I sit with my discomfort, I know that logically my partner is right. I’ve even thought the same myself. And by taking his comment on board, it will make my meditation classes better.
I also understand that this hits deeper than the adult reasoning mind can deal with. This is a further confrontation for a small hopeful child who just doesn’t need any more criticism and “could be betters”.
The people who love you the most tend to want you to be the best that you can be. So that you can live the life of your dreams, so that you don’t have to suffer.
But never being able to relax with my performance, my appearance and my achievements has taken its toll. And I need to relax.
I shouldn’t care so much what others think. But what others think is what keeps me in business.
As I write this now, I realise that what’s more important is how I make my clients feel. And that’s less about perfection and more about the energy, the vibe and the self that I bring to each session.
One of the questions I asked a class last night was:
“During these winter months in lockdown, what is it that you need in order for you to be able to rest and connect to inner stillness?”
An animal approaching hibernation knows exactly what it needs to collect, where it needs to go and how it needs to be so that it can switch off and conserve energy. So that in springtime, it emerges bright and energised.
The answer that came to me was:
“Meditate. Do nothing. Just be.”
I’ve been teaching meditation and mindfulness for many years now and I go through phases of meditating. I find it challenging to sit in silence without being consumed by thoughts.
I’m always reading on the topics of personal development and spirituality, listening to podcasts and attending workshops. But good old fashioned sitting in stillness and being has been a very rare activity for this meditation teacher. Embarrassing.
Do you want to know the feedback my partner gave me?
“Talk less. Leave space for the person to settle into the present moment.”
In other words, MORE STILLNESS. Damnit. And this coming from the guy who just attended his very first meditation class.
First things first. I honoured the inner child who just wants to show mammy and daddy her newest creation and for them to gush over it. I felt all of the feelings and cried.
Then I emerged from my self-protecting cocoon (curled up in a blanket) energised and inspired. I do need more silence and stillness.
Firstly, with myself. And that will naturally enter into my classes.
It can be hard to gauge the pace and energy of a class where all you can see are blank screens so I will have to remind myself that I don’t have to fill in all of those blanks with language.
Once I become comfortable with discomfort and stop resisting everything I encounter in the present moment, then my mind, my body, my heart and my soul will become still.
More peace. And more enjoyment. For me. And for my clients.
So what did I do when I decided that I need to meditate, be still and just be? I wrote a blog post.
I will meditate today, I promise.
Images: lifeunscriptedministries and wikimedia