We all get hit by life’s slings and arrows from time to time. They can come from a resident critic—a family member, friend, or co-worker who always finds something wrong—or as the occasional put-down that catches you by surprise. What do you do when an insult is hurled your way, privately or public ally? Do you pretend you didn’t hear it or hurl an insult right back? Do you internalise it or get angry and lash out?
You may not be able to stop someone’s nasty words or careless actions, but you can change how you deal with those barbs. They don’t have to take you down or tempt you to retaliate. Try these 10 healthy and empowering tips to meet insults and criticism gracefully and appropriately.
Tip #1: Assess Criticism and Who It Is Coming From
It’s important to get an accurate read on a situation to decide the best way to respond. There’s a big difference between constructive criticism from someone who loves you and getting bashed by someone who steals the stage to discredit you. You’ll need to get some objectivity before deciding whether it’s right to speak up or let it go.
Try this: Pull away from the situation and look at it without ego, as if you were observing someone else’s life. Is it possible you are being overly sensitive, or has someone treated you like a doormat without good reason? A clear sense of which it is will help you find the best solution.
Tip #2: Acknowledge Your Feelings
Pressure can build up when you don’t acknowledge what’s bothering you. When someone hurts you, especially someone close to you, you may stuff your feelings below the surface to avoid a confrontation. But your feelings are a key part of your internal guidance system—they warn you when something is wrong. By ignoring feelings, you create a larger problem to deal with later. By accepting the messages they bring, you’ll be able to deal more effectively with issues from the start.
Try this: Rather than slamming a lid over your emotions, notice them as they arise--without judging yourself or blaming others for making you upset. Ask yourself: If my feelings could talk right now, what would they say? What is this feeling asking me to do? What new choices can I make to help me feel at peace about this situation?
Image Artwork by Corina Chirila
It may seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, but living a parallel life may not be as far-fetched as you first imagined. Of course, it also depends on how you define the word “life”.
I have come to the understanding that all of us are living out parallel lives. Some of us are living out more lives than others, but all of us have at least one other life happening simultaneously as we move through our journey on Earth.
Let me explain…
Why We Are All Living Parallel ‘Lives’
The Higher SelfWhen a soul is ready to enter a body, only part of it reincarnates. The rest of your soul energy is left up in other realms and dimensions to carry out other ‘things’.
This part of you may be dormant or it could be living out a full and happy ‘life’ up in the higher realms.
This can also help to explain how a soul, who may have already reincarnated into another body and another life, can still visit and send messages to loved ones as the family member or friend they were once known as.
This essence of You that is in the higher realms, may also split or travel down to a dimension that is not Earth but is accessible to those living on Earth. This is the dimension or the realm of the Higher Self.
It is a jungle out there, and it is no less true about spiritual life than any other aspect of life. Do we really think that just because someone has been meditating for five years, or doing 10 years of yoga practice, that they will be any less neurotic than the next person? At best, perhaps they will be a little bit more aware of it. A little bit.
As I have come to know hundreds of spiritual teachers and spiritual practitioners through my work and travels, I have been struck by the way in which our spiritual views, perspectives and experiences become similarly "infected" by "conceptual contaminants" -- comprising a confused and immature relationship to complex spiritual principles can seem as invisible and insidious as a sexually transmitted disease.
The following 10 categorisations are not intended to be definitive but are offered as a tool for becoming aware of some of the most common spiritually transmitted diseases.
1. Fast-Food Spirituality: Mix spirituality with a culture that celebrates speed, multitasking and instant gratification and the result is likely to be fast-food spirituality. Fast-food spirituality is a product of the common and understandable fantasy that relief from the suffering of our human condition can be quick and easy. One thing is clear, however: spiritual transformation cannot be had in a quick fix.
2. Faux Spirituality: Faux spirituality is the tendency to talk, dress and act as we imagine a spiritual person would. It is a kind of imitation spirituality that mimics spiritual realisation in the way that leopard-skin fabric imitates the genuine skin of a leopard.
3. Confused Motivations: Although our desire to grow is genuine and pure, it often gets mixed with lesser motivations, including the wish to be loved, the desire to belong, the need to fill our internal emptiness, the belief that the spiritual path will remove our suffering and spiritual ambition, the wish to be special, to be better than, to be "the one."