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Motivation and fear of criticism

nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

My lama recently gave a talk on motivation, as pertains to your practice. And one of the eight ‘bad’ motivations was a fear of criticism. Now that’s not why I’m practicing, but fear of criticism and rejection has been a bugaboo of mine since I was a child. It's one of the reason I don't mention I'm a Buddhist in casual conversation here in the Deep South. Do the suttas or modern masters have anything to say about overcoming this particular fear?

Comments

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited January 12

    From what I gather 'fear is fear' ...this Article may be of help @nakazcid

    Also this

    "If you fear you shall suffer...you already suffer what you fear"
    ~Michel de Montaigne~

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    cool mom you had, @genkaku.

  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    @genkaku Thanks for the really thoughtful reply. This fear of mine goes back to middle and high school. I was physically small and socially inept, and was in constant fear of being hassled, ridiculed and beaten up. The most effective way I found to deal with it was to turn invisible. By not talking to or making eye contact with anyone, I effectively vanished from the consciousness of my "peers". It worked really well, but also created a habit that I'm still struggling to break to this day.

    Today I'm reasonably competent at dealing with individuals, but interacting in groups remains a challenge. At our last Dharma talk, one attendee was actually encouraging me to contribute to the discussion. It was very strange. But my ideas about the topic at hand (emptiness) are very vague and half formed, and I didn't feel confident about speaking up. In other words, I was afraid of looking stupid and getting ridiculed or reprimanded. Old habits die hard.

    I'll keep on keeping on with the practice...

    lobster
  • You are stupid!

    I reject your fear!

    Staring right at ya! Which may be completely stupid but one of us has to be fearless, preferably You! <3

    nakazcid
  • GlowGlow Veteran
    edited January 15

    Compassion melts our barriers more effectively than regarding them as annoyances or enemies. The part of you that is trying to keep you from getting hurt again is an Inner Protector. You can think of it as that young, prepubescent self that was petrified of getting bullied trying to make sure you never experience that ever again. Try to understand why your fear of criticism MUST exist: that is, what does the world look like through the eyes of that part of you, that makes the behavior of holding back so compelling? The tendency to inhibit yourself wouldn't be so persistent if it didn't feel absolutely real that there is a threat out there. Try to have empathy with that part of yourself, and say "I understand." (Resist the urge to add "but", as in "I understand why you're behaving this way, but..." The"but" is invalidating and impatient. You wouldn't tell a scared and petrified child "I know you're scared, but buck up, son!" You would say, "I see you're scared. It's okay to be scared. Let me be here with you through this.") Keep that part of you company for as long as it needs. It might be a few days or weeks or months before the pattern dissolves, but it will.

    IME, when I try to look through the eyes of a part of me whose behavior I don't really understand, the need for the behavior generally starts to dissolve bit by bit.

    nakazcidlobsterfederica
  • Well said @Glow.
    Pattern dissolving through acceptance and understanding (bye bye ignorance) <3

    Glow
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Glow that's a brilliantly perspicacious post... very perceptive and helpful.

    Glow
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    @Glow I remember reading in a book on anger by Thich Naht Hanh that said (I'm paraphasing) that you had to treat your rage like a little baby with care and compassion. At the time, this seemed like a very strange concept. Wouldn't sending love at it just encourage it? It seemed like anger should be suppressed and stamped out, not loved and accepted.

    But I've heard this wisdom since, including your statement. It's tough to do when you're used to berating yourself for being a gormless coward. I've tried the gentle approach before, and it's helped a few times in other scenarios, but it sure doesn't come easily.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Like every other exercise, it takes practice, perseverance and patience.
    You have to commit to yourself, but first of all, you have to accept, and understand that you are absolutely 100% worth that commitment.
    Steps like this can be lonely; you have to make them yourself, for yourself.
    But you're surrounded here, by supportive friends.
    The fact you know what you must do, and the willingness you show, is a bonus.
    Come on buddy, best foot forward! <3

    nakazcidlobster
  • GlowGlow Veteran
    edited January 15

    @nakazcid said:
    @Glow I remember reading in a book on anger by Thich Naht Hanh that said (I'm paraphasing) that you had to treat your rage like a little baby with care and compassion. At the time, this seemed like a very strange concept. Wouldn't sending love at it just encourage it? It seemed like anger should be suppressed and stamped out, not loved and accepted.

    But I've heard this wisdom since, including your statement. It's tough to do when you're used to berating yourself for being a gormless coward. I've tried the gentle approach before, and it's helped a few times in other scenarios, but it sure doesn't come easily.

    This is the tricky part: that part of you doing the berating and calling yourself a gormless coward is also actually a scared part of you, trying to advocate for your best interest: it's the part of you that wants you to be able to embody the full extent of who you are in the world, and to show up fully in the situations around you. It's the part of you that is afraid that, if you don't eradicate this tendency towards inhibition, you'll be invisible to others, miss out on opportunities to share your truth and expand your zone of experience, and connect fully with others. So, in desperation, it gets exasperated at the part of you that's trying to keep you safe and protected by hiding from harm.

    Here is where the truth of anatta is relevant: neither of these parts is you. You are neither the scared middle/high schooler self nor the exasperated part trying to assert themselves. Those are simply processes playing out inside you, set into motion by causes and conditions long outside your control. You are the one who is capable of holding them in awareness, in mindfulness, like the parent of two inner children having a fight. Just as it wouldn't do to employ favoritism in the raising of healthy children, privileging parts of ourselves over others gets us stuck: pieces of ourselves get alienated and go brood in the basement to become part of our Shadow (in the Jungian sense). And alienation from parts of ourselves actually perpetuates an inability to fully "show up" and present the full weight of our being in our relationships and situations. You want both the vulnerable and the valiant parts of yourselves to be there, like two halves of a whole.

    Have compassion for both -- try to take the perspective of both at the same time. Having compassion for anger doesn't make the anger grow stronger and having compassion for fear doesn't perpetuate fear. In fact, it actually satisfies the needs the anger and fear are trying to get met. Angry people only get more angrier when they feel like nobody hears or cares about their feelings, and fearful people only calm down when they are responded to with kindness. Somewhere I read that one of the hallmarks of maturity is the ability to hold two seemingly contradictory truths together. As I get older, this is something I've had to learn to do again and again as life's complications and contradictions sort of stare defiantly in my face, lol. But in holding both seemingly opposing motivations together, you'll often find there's a lot more flexibility in there than you imagined at first.

    lobsterShoshinnakazcid
  • Another great post @Glow

    Settle down in front of mirror (which is meditation in dharma) who ya gonna find? Yourself? Yep 👍🏾 Anybody didn’t know?

    Glow
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