This is a repost of a blog that I wrote after my “Why I Stopped Shaving” post on my old blog.
WOW! Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting my PhD in Not Taking it Personally. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a powerful declaration of what I’m up to in the world and how I am using my physical body to portray it and be the change I wish to see in the world. I am proud and empowered by literally taking Gandhi’s words into my life and make my life be dedicated to rupturing the oppressions that I feel and see in the world. How this shows up, is that I don’t shave my legs and I’ve recently tried stopping plucking the hairs from my chin. It has taken me several steps to get to this place of first noticing where I’m feeling disempowered, then making a difference, and now- speaking out about it. I thought that I had it all figured out, that I was on top of any feeling of unworthiness and truly in my power as a woman fully in choice and freedom around my body. Well, rarely are we ever done and finished with learning lessons. As I’ve heard time and time again- as soon as you declare something, everything else shows up.
Immediately after posting I found comments on my blog that were hateful and degrading to me and my commitment. I found that a link to my blog was mentioned on another website with dozens of responses and reactions to my commitment with disgust and hatred. I felt attacked, alone, diminished, defensive, angry… and then I recognized what work there is to do from my seat. My emotional reaction to the circumstances of their comments is my work to push through. It’s human to feel sadness with criticism and defensive with aggressive words… and it’s my job to stay in my commitments and weather the storm. As Kindred Spirit reminds me, upsets are not personal:
When my emotional experience is not pleasant, I often place the responsibility outside myself, leaving me a victim of some external circumstance. Upsets are wake-up calls and direction-markers, pointing out where I am being something other than oneness. Upsets are not personal. Freedom lies within. If I can realize that when someone else is upset it’s not about their circumstances or the actions of others or myself, I will be well on the way to mastery…. I hold upsets or unwanted emotional experiences like I hold the weather. There is nothing to resist because it is just passing through. (p. 19)
It’s a hard thing to take on… but not taking hateful words personally is incredibly freeing. If I can stay in my seat through the harshest of criticism, then I’m able to truly get through resistance and into transformation (both for myself, and be open to seeing it in others). I’m considering that their reactions to me are like the detoxification process. Being the change I wish to see in the world takes on another level of responsibility: not getting defensive or taking it personality when that change meets resistance. By being strong, keeping my seat, trusting that it’s all working… I see that this is my training for leadership in uncharted territories. This is my work in causing transformation in the world- I need to be ready for whatever storm comes back at me. Surely, if I am making a stand for something powerful, powerful resistance comes back to balance that out. “Breakdown as breakthrough” has a whole new meaning. I am inspired by my impact being so potent and recognize that this is the life that I’ve signed up for. It’s all working.
What criticism can you let go of? What are you taking personally? I encourage you to practice keeping your seat, holding your commitments through the storm of upset. Only there can you keep your power, and center unconditional love.