What if I’m criticized and the person who is doing the criticizing is someone I consider an enemy? How do I handle it? How do I react?
One of the most tragic & horrendous case in points is 911; for many of us, revenge was the first thought, retaliation the next. But, what if we had gone deeper into the catalysts for this grisly terrorist attack and those who were the perpetrators?
Here’s what I mean: Alice Walker, in her book, We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For (2006), recommends that when our minds are filled with blame, anger, lack of comprehension, and revenge, to simply sit in some form of meditative seat, asking ourselves, “What could have been the causes of an enemy’s motivation to strike out with violence or some other micro-aggression?” Sit with it a while, and see what emerges from your conscious and unconscious thoughts. She writes, “Sit with their anger until you can see America through their eyes” (p.190).
Continuing, “When I fully accepted the reality of their suffering from this fear, I could begin to feel compassion rather than disgust, irritation, anger or, more likely in my case, mystification” (Ibid.).
This suggested action is much like Tonglen, the Buddhist prayer of compassion for others suffering, as we are, in our world.
I’d suggest using this template when we receive personal criticism, or cultural critiques that don’t really apply to us, and may arise out of the suffering or misunderstanding of the other groups or people.
When I’m personally criticized, my tendency is to go to the “highly valued” abstraction that “Oh, no, now I know I’m all bad or all failure, etc.” I’m now trying to pause, to use this method to help me think in a more self-caring way. I feel myself changing, and I feel all good.
©Christopher Bear-Beam February 16, 2017