How Is Criticism Is Good For You?

Criticism is one of the hardest things to hear. However, criticism doesn’t have to be all negative. If you able to hear it with mindfulness, criticism can be a chance to see yourself and your ‘criticizer’ on a deeper level.

Criticism >= Stomach Punch?
Recently I was talking with a senior member of my spiritual community. While we were talking my business, the Mindful Fitness Movement, came up.

He expressed concern about how I talked about my time at the monastery. He suggested it was inappropriate to list the 2 years I spent at the monastery on my business website.

The next thing I knew I found myself getting defensive and reactive. What I heard him saying was, “I had no business trying to help anyone at all.”

I was able to explain why I listed the monastery on my site and leave the conversation skillfully.  Still, I left feeling very agitated.

3 Windows Of Criticism
Later after I calmed down I was able to look at what I call the 3 windows of criticism.

1. Their Truth – This is your best guess at what the criticizer is expressing. My best guess was, “Training at the monastery is a sacred tradition. I want to honor that tradition.”

2. My Fear – This is the fear that the criticism triggered.
My fear was, “I’m afraid my spiritual community doesn’t support my work. I’m afraid the person I respect thinks I can’t help people. What if he’s right?”

3. The Value – This can be a shared value or two separate values that each of your is trying to support. The value I saw was, “We both want to honor and support a tradition that helped us find peace and meaning.”

It is hard to hear a person’s values through their criticism. But it’s important to try and see what they care about.  Even if you don’t support how they are trying to meet those values.

MindFitMove Practice:
Think of an occurrence in your recent past where you felt criticized. Then follow the steps below.

1. Write down what you remember the person saying. (Try not to interpret or write assumptions)

2.Write down what your reaction was in words and/or thought. 

3. Write down the feelings that came up for you when they said it.

4. Write down Their Truth, Your Fear, and The Values you were both holding.

Once you have gone through these steps it’s up to you to decide which if any action needs to be taken. Often when we receive criticism our willingness to hear and understand the person is enough to make the difference.

Remember that it’s not about blame. It’s about finding a way forward that honors both of you.


Why didn’t I exercise over Thanksgiving?

The holidays break up our routines and tug at our heartstrings. They have bring up old memories as well as old insecurities. For many people this season is a season of pitfalls and minefields for health vows. Here are 4 tips on how to navigate the holidays and maintain mindfulness around living a balanced and healthy life.
1. Cook more veggies: For thanksgiving many people have a CARB FEST. The problem with this is that carbs have tons of excess calories and they tend to make us sleepy and lethargic. You know all the stuff about tryptophan in the turkey? Bogus. They have done studies and the reason you get so sleepy is the massive intake of carbs. Instead try cooking more veggies. This year I sautéed kale with golden raisins and my uncle grilled fresh asparagus. Half of my thanksgiving plate was veggies and I didn’t have to take a nap after dinner. If you are going over to someone’s house, offer to bring some veggies along — you will likely be one of the few people touting leafy greens.
2. Make plans to exercise: If you can exercise with your family, great. If not, include your exercise in your plans with your family. Family stuff has a way of expanding to take up the time you have, so set clear intentions and tell your family what those plans are. You are more likely to follow through.
3. Don’t drink too much: I made this mistake. My family is not a big drinking family, but when everyone else is having a beer, it’s easy to go along. I rarely drink, but when I was home I had a cocktail almost every night. Because of this I tended to wake up later and a bit groggier.   You can be festive without imbibing and you are much more likely to wake up early and go for a run. It’s OK to have a drink or two, but an every other day rule might be the best policy.
4. Get enough sleep: I know you want to see your friends, and your extended family probably wakes up earlier than you normally do. Going to bed early every other night will ensure that you get to stay up and enjoy that late night discussion of metaphysics with your cousin, or hear things you never knew about your uncle. It will also make sure you get enough sleep and thus have enough energy to exercise.
Take some time this week and create a plan for how you are going to get through the holidays mindfully. Don’t forget to give yourself more slack than normal. The goal is to maintain awareness more than any strict rules that will be hard to stick to.  If nothing else remember this one simple rule: the holidays only last 1-2 months, just make it through ‘til January 2nd and then commit to starting back into your old routine.