We live in our heads maintaining the story we tell ourselves. It’s a difficult thing to receive feedback from loved ones, friends, peers or our supervisors especially to find out our story is not what we thought or felt it was. Accepting criticism of how we interact with others or the work we produce is not something many people do readily. We get defensive. We fight to maintain the story we tell ourselves. We argue with the feedback in our heads and justify our position or approach. As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” The most profound illusion we all share is the unique individual we think and feel we are. We think we know how to handle situations; look good or bad; are smart or stupid; or more knowledgable than we are. The fact we refuse to accept is that others have a better understanding of who we are through our deeds, behaviors and interactions.
So what can we do about our illusion of self supremacy or efficacy? How can we keep our delusion of self-hood in check? Like all good twelve step programs, we have to start with admitting the story we tell ourselves is not the whole truth of who we are. We are much more than the story we tell ourselves. We all have blind spots, weaknesses and opportunities to improve we refuse to add to our story. The second step is to recognize we are not alone. We all delude ourselves. We all tell ourselves inaccurate stories. We then need to make a decision to do something about it. What that decision is particular to our situation. One thing is for sure. There are people in our environment that have been telling us about our deeds, behaviors, or interactions that we haven’t been listening to. Or, we could just choose to ask others we interact with how we can be better. This is a hard step as we have to choose to listen without judgement to those willing to give us the feedback. Others may be reluctant or even refuse to help us as we may have passed their threshold of trust long ago. We are so lost in our personal story, we defend as if our life depended on it. The thing is, our life would be so much better if we can simply accept our inner story is false and open to alteration from external feedback.
I’m not saying we have to accept all feedback. There is something to staying true to ourselves. We simply need to listen to feedback from others and our environment with an open heart and mind while withholding judgement. If we can do this, we can then proceed to take inventory. We can then reorient ourselves to a new path with an inventory of our strengths, weaknesses, threats to others trusting us and opportunities to have others trust us more. It would be nice to say this is all we have to do; but, this is a continual process as we change throughout our lives. if you don’t think you change, then you better ask some trusted friend to challenge that belief. If you think you know the right path forward in your daily quagmire of interactions, then you better ask a trusted friend to challenge that belief. Being open to challenging your personal beliefs is how we can adjust our path forward and guide ourselves to more desired states of joy as opposed to suffering. With that said, we all have to traverse our particular depths of suffering before we can find the nugget of truth in our lives and thereby walk in to the light of a joyful life. And, sometimes we simply need a kick in our complacency of acting out our delusional story. What will really freak us out is that those that care about us have been kicking us for years and we simply couldn’t accept it. This in itself can open us up to a different level of suffering as we realize people have been attempting to help us all along but our illusion was too pervasive.
If you’ve read this far, ask yourself a couple questions.
- When that person challenged my decision, were they right?
- What illusions have I been telling myself?
- What feedback have I not listened to?
- Who can I trust to tell me the truth about myself?
I suppose it’s time for me to go strike up a conversation with a couple trusted friends and listen as best I know how. Good luck if you do the same. Good luck if you think this was complete rubbish. Have fun with your delusion.
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