Outside-in

How do you avoid criticism?  By not allowing yourself to be criticized until it counts… obviously.

If that sounds weird– that’s because it definitely should. For me, and for many others from what I gather, this is the primary mode of operation.  I store everything in my head.  I build “essences” of things and “overall ideas” of what I envision.  The problem with this (as with many other things) is the illusion of productivity.  To an extent, it is actually productive, but only to an extent.

Nothing has room to become if this remains the case.  At best, things end up as what you know.  Part of where things begin to push beyond that is in extending the limits. This only happens when you collaborate, when you allow the opportunity for perspective, and when you let people use their knowledge base with the material.  When it comes to this mode of creation, you literally cannot lose.  You are actively expanding the methods, tools, and perspectives you use.

Yet even in knowing this, it’s hard to do.  You must find the balance of pushing beyond your own limits but also knowing at what point you should enlist the outside.  Some people also go the other way, of never building anything on their own, or checking every. single. step.– which is at least as bad at the other way around.

When I’m in a particularly stubborn way, I like to think that keeping everything in my head and building my own perspective of things allows for more room and more possibilities.  While I may not be entirely wrong, I’m being pretty selective with my truths.  This view makes it seem as though feedback is restrictive.  It makes it seem like you are obligated to use all feedback you receive and that there is zero room for interpretation and integration– which is simply not the case.

When I do this, there is a 50% chance I just have no clue where to start and a 50% chance that I am really afraid of looking dumb.  “Start anywhere” is a problem in itself, but the fear half of the equation is a byproduct of mindset. Even in the opening, I doubt anyone questioned my use of the word “criticism…” but does what we’re talking about actually tend to be criticism?  No.  More often, it is merely feedback– ideas, suggestions, points of interest, etc.  The problem is that this feedback is being interpreted as a threat.  What you need to do is reframe this into what it’s actually intended to be, and the only way to do this is to expose yourself to situations where you receive feedback.  Like anything else, it’s a skill and requires practice.

While each of us realizes that we can’t know everything, we must also remember that nobody expects us to (because– surprise– they don’t either)!  When I teach, I remind my students of this all the time.  I tell them upfront that they will not master a skill the first time they are introduced to it, and that my reminding them and correcting them is a method I use so that they will come to learn it and improve their performance of the skill.

Personally, I have found meditation to be extremely helpful.  The mini practice I use most frequently is one in which eyes are closed and you simply allow any sounds in the environment to come to you.  I have found it allows me to practice a good level of acknowledgment of my surroundings while also recognizing my own presence within that space (as opposed to reinforcing a feeling of separateness).  I am often either overinvested and overwhelmed by what’s happening around me or incredibly detached– which both feed anxiety and defensiveness.  I know that I tend to function between these extremes and that I find sensory details mentally and emotionally taxing, which is why I turned to a grounding meditation practice.  Being able to ground this way has helped me build a healthier and more balanced view of what’s actually happening around me and of my part in it.  The listening exercise is a skill I learned from a longer practice that I can use at any time when I may not be able to perform a full meditation, so don’t be afraid to modify and simply take what you need! 🙂

So there are my thoughts on the subject and what helps me! What helps you reset and allow yourself to expand outward?

Happy creating & becoming!
– E

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