BY: T. Franklin Murphy | February 2018
The world is big with more information than can ever be observed and gathered. We must expand our borders, including the knowledge of others.
Feedback slashes hopes, disrupts confidence and spikes fears—not just when poorly presented; sometimes it’s just poorly received. Some of us are fragile. Any correction, disapproval or well-meaning advice ignites protective emotions. Whether well-intended or not, we can learn from feedback—verbal and behavioral. Life continually flows back and forth. Packaged within human interactions are cues—acceptance, rejection, impatience, and compassion—just to name a few. The information communicated is easily blurred with the smearing brush of ego. We fear communication that might diminish self-worth. A suggestion, a correction or a disapproving glance can set the soul on fire, triggering a burning defense to protect the wounded ego.
This isn’t new; our ego interferes with learning. Our limited exposures narrow understanding; when we close our minds to opposing thoughts, we cripple opportunities for expanding wisdom and rely on ignorance bound to the chains of subjectivity. Overly sensitive egos painfully receive all negative reactions as rejection (of self). Writing for Flourishing Life Society has exposed my fears. Granting to all glimpses into my weakness and opening my heart to rejection. The choice became clear early on, “Do I run or do I work to improve my skill?”
We are not beyond reproach. No one has perfected a craft so worthy that correction and improvements are impossible. We don’t live so wonderfully that external inputs can be disregarded; living with others is dynamic, demanding continual monitoring, change and growth. If we choose to live inside ourselves, stagnating in self-knowledge, we limit connection—a major component of a rich and fulfilling life. We communicate our existence through interaction, poking the unknown for feedback through confirming questions, expressed doubts, and sometimes rejection. These interactions illuminate the self. If we ignore non-reassuring messages, we stupefy our futures, limiting the knowledge to the crumbs that haphazardly fall from the greater table of life.
Learning moments for the open minded excite the soul; but others rebel and viciously attack. Instead of openness, the fearful react with shortness, implying differences stem from ignorance of the presenter; any disagreements (to the feeble minded) signal the opposition’s wrongness.
"We don’t live so wonderfully that external inputs can be disregarded; living with others is dynamic, demanding continual monitoring, change and growth."
Many factors cause the conflicting opinions, discovering these factors build foundations of wisdom. Some truths hurt; we don’t acknowledge them because we don’t like them. An unconsidered truth can disrupt many theories, sending us scrawling back to the drawing board to redesign the meaning of life. Often learning, creates a new chaos to organize, so we shut our minds and live in ignorance. But by disregarding opposing messages, we strangle the flow of knowledge.
We can’t, however, accept every message as truth—false messages abound. When we have time and mental energy, we explore, learning and growing.
Openly shared philosophies invite ridicule. Our subjective experience may miss important factors; our expressions maybe foolishness. Some messages may be rejected because of hidden entwined biases. Other expressions may be rejected because of exposed humanness and vulnerability, shining a light on hidden pain, the smug listener sees the weakness and rejects the message.
We can’t force thoughts on others; we can’t be certain of the correctness behind our messages. Living in silence and alone with concepts in our head is meaningless. When a message is rejected, we shouldn’t resist the defensiveness of jumping to action, desperately trying to convince the other of their wrongness (except if life is in imminent danger). We preferably should use the rejection to signal further investigation and possible new insights. Maybe the message, previously so clear, is wrong, tainted with bias and ignorance only visible when viewed from another perspective. Digging our heels in and closing our minds furthers the self-deceptions.
First understand feedback being conveyed, soothe the tender ego, and then mindfully evaluate the information for previously missed facts. Here we find greater wisdom and a widening view of life.