with Cindy Lindsay Rael
A New Series on Divine Talk Radio
Be in the light, then the light will be in you, then you are the light.
Soul Talk: Part 1 Handling Criticism/ Deeper Issues of Ego
In my own personal life and when I was an organizational consultant, I noticed that most people have trouble with even well-phrased negative feedback. Any time we have to face criticism gives most of us some discomfort. But for some, it is a devastating experience.
Though there are a lot of things to say about how to give criticism or negative feedback in a positive way, how to deal with taking criticism in a positive way is our topic for two episodes of Soul Talk. In this Part 1 Episode, we will look at the deep and important issues of ego involved and in the Part 2 Episode we will focus on techniques.
Harm vs Feedback
I should be clear that we are not talking explicitly about the times when some say something that they intend to harm or wound you with. This is more focused on times when someone is trying to tell you something they think you need to hear for your own improvement.
However, it is clear that even when people do not intend to harm, they may not deliver the criticism effectively. This is because they may have their own wounds and issues fueling their statements and actions.
Thus, it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between someone who is triggered but trying to have a real conversation and someone who intends to harm you. So, some giving the benefit of the doubt and compassion makes sense as a first response.
The ultimate strategy with criticism
In the cases where they are not really trying to do harm. The ultimate approach to handling criticism is to “take is sporty” as Sri Kaleshwar said. Or “don’t take it personally” as Miguel Ruiz says.
To do this we need to know that everything is from God and there is some hint there to your soul development and feel thanks for that. As Sir Kaleshwar said “Thank You Mother”; meaning thanks to the Maya for playing its game of my soul development on me. But how do we get to that place of acceptance and emotional non-attachment?
We need: to be able to let go of it; to not let it hit our own block or wounds; to react with compassion; to not rehearse it as a negative but to learn from it.
Ego and Spirituality
From a spiritual point and a psychological point of view, this is about ego.
Ego is the “I” that is attached to our personal separate reality, our personality, our experience in the body and our block and wounds. The Bhagavad Gita helps us understand that ego is the feeling of separateness and an attachment into the illusion as truth. It is the false perception of oneself as a separate or a limited being.
It teaches us that there is universal “I” that is our soul nature and our true interconnectedness state with all things, God, and Mother Divine. But this “I” is covered by illusion and karmas.
The illusion is the play of the Mother/ Maya to present us with our karmas so that we can learn to uncover the soul and the true universal “I.” Thus, it is critical to transcend the separate “I” to meet the illusion in a way that advances our soul. The egoless state becomes a means to enlightenment.
Throughout the Bhagavad Gita are listed a number of ways that Egoism is manifested in us:
1. Ownership and doership of actions
2. Desires and attachments to the illusion
3. Pride and arrogance
6. Aggression and competitiveness
7. Judgment, opinions, and criticism
8. Identification with the mind and body
9. Fear, suffering, anxiety, anger, stress, and so on.
As Shirdi Sai Baba said:
“All the maladies arise because man does not shed, his ego, feels that his body is everything.”
“It is ego that creates this world with all its transient joys and sorrows.”
But this is not just Shirdi Baba and the Bhagavad Gita, it is a basic tenet of many Eastern spiritual views, from Buddhism to Taoism, and many more.
If we apply this to constructive criticism, then we must find a way to see this as the Maya bringing us a chance to advance our soul. Handling criticism requires handling ego. And that handling ego is the main aspect of spiritual approaches to enlightenment. Thus, handling criticism is a key learning experience in which we can practice egolessness and advance our souls.
We must find a way to transcend ego responses and have an egoless stance. To even go beyond not making it personal, to changing the nature of the “I” responding.
To understand that, let’s look at the range of reactions to criticism.
There are external responses and the internal responses. As we look at these responses we can see these are two sides of the same coin of ego. 1) increased ego defense and self-justification; a defensiveness to maintain a particular view of self. On the flip side of ego, 2) unworthiness, hurt, lack of self-love and low self-esteem.
On the external, ego-defensive side:
A person may defend, deny, or even cover up and lie. They may blame, be angry, or even try to attack back at the source of the criticism.
Internally on the ego-defensive side;
They feel angry, aggressive, and judgmental towards the source. Ultimately what is being defended is a lack of self-worth within.
On the external unworthiness side:
They may try to people please and overdo their acts of accepting and trying to make it better. Or they may just go “deer in the headlights”, shocked, stunned and likely disassociated.
Internally on the unworthiness dimension:
They may feel devastated, hurt, shamed, unloved and like a bad person. They may even stay in a prolonged dissociated state.
For some people, these responses last a very long time after the event of the criticism itself.
Though all of us can have our ego hurt with criticism, those who maintain these feeling for a prolonged time past the event, need to take a deeper look at underlying problems of ego. If you see yourself in these descriptions you may need deeper healing on the issues in order to follow the advice on how to handle criticism.
Sai Shakti healers can help you. Find a healer near you: https://divinelineage.org/heal/receive-healing
In the modern world, we are surrounded by ego manifestations, and we as human have adopted some primary wounds of ego. Beyond the difficulties of attaining spiritual egolessness, we may find ourselves in ego dysfunctions that need deeper healing.
Issues that need deeper healing
One deeper issue is unworthiness or low self-esteem. It is common in the modern world. Sri Kaleshwar saw it as the blocks, insecurity, unworthiness, feeling left out and feeling rejected.
For a full list of the major blocks and a mantra for remedy of them Sri Kaleshwar saw in this time in the world see: chapter two of the “Real Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ”. (Available on Amazon)
Modern times also have a rise of unhealthy ego defense as well. The most extreme example is a narcissistic personality disorder.
In fact, not only is this diagnosis on the rise in recent years, but there are some disturbing modern cultural manifestations of, what I would consider being, the glamorization and normalization of unhealthy ego defense and narcissistic behaviors: from real housewives to politicians, to celebrities (and others), who publicly tweet, and Instagram every thought, moment and body part.
As someone who believes that striving for egolessness is the way to enlightenment and the transcendence of humanity, such trends are particularly disturbing. Thus, I am going to give a fairly detailed explanation of narcissistic personality disorder, so we can begin to recognize the pathology.
Narcissistic personality disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes narcissistic personality disorder as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts”.
Narcissists often portray an image of overconfidence in the world, but this is only to cover up deep feelings of insecurity and a fragile self-esteem that is easily bruised by the slightest criticism. Narcissists filter information and react on the basis of effect to maintain their ego.
Symptoms can be seen in childhood and beyond as:
Bullying, or scapegoating people (including parents and other adults);
Persistent need to win no matter who is hurt;
Lying to benefit the self;
Being highly reactive to criticism. Or anything they assume or interpret as negatively evaluating their personality or performance.
Displaying aggressive responses to being criticized, wronged, or upset;
Being inordinately self-righteous and defensive and reacting to contrary viewpoints with anger or rage.
Repetitively blaming others for bad outcomes (even those from their own behavior),
Being much more competitive than cooperative.
Projecting onto others, qualities, traits, and behaviors they can’t—or won’t—accept in themselves.
Requiring excessive admiration and affirmation
Preoccupied with their own of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal of love.
Being interpersonally exploitative.
Lacking empathy: unwilling or unable to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
Shows arrogant, haughty [rude and abusive] behaviors or attitudes. Displays an Inability to form deep relationships.
We can see how this psychological definition mirrors those ways the Bhagavad Gita said that ego is manifest.
Sir Kaleshwar recognizes some of the symptoms of ego defense in his list of modern blocks as anger, anxiety, a suspecting nature, not forgiving, and an unloving nature. And though these may go beyond narcissistic personality disorder, they are certain responses of ego defense.
All such ego dysfunctions can be karmic and also may be activated in childhood by:
Excessive criticism, humiliation or shaming;
Child abuse, or violence;
Behaviors of drug or alcohol dependent parents;
Fighting in the family;
Feeling or being unloved.
So clearly, this can be a very deep healing issue. Both deep unworthiness and unhealthy ego defense do need some help (healing or therapy) to be overcome. So, I mention them here before going on to the how-to of dealing with criticism in our next episode.
But it is also a deep healing issue for humanity and our own evolving culture.
In part two we will take look at how to release ego but maintain self-love. As well we will give away to meet and respond to criticism that advances our souls (and personalities).
Any time we have to face criticism gives most of us some discomfort. Handling criticism is important for our own happiness and self-development. Our ineffective reactions to criticism are based on ego. To respond well to criticism requires releasing ego attachments. This release of ego attachments is also a primary spiritual approach to soul advancement.
Listen to this part one episode to hear about the relationship of criticism to ego and soul transcendence. Also, hear about two prevalent issues of ego that block us from egolessness and maintain us in a difficult and devastating relationship with criticism.
If you want to seek healing, go to https://divinelineage.org/heal/receive-healing
For a full list of the major blocks and a mantra to remedy them, see the “Real Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ” by Sri Kaleshwar. (available on Amazon)
Soul Talk: Part 2 Handling Criticism/ Divine Practices
In the last episode (Part 1) we discussed how handling criticism requires handling ego. And that handling ego is the main aspect of spiritual approaches to enlightenment. Thus, handling criticism is a key learning experience in which we can practice egolessness and advance our souls.
So how do we release ego?
In the Bhagavad Gita, there are quite a few hints on how to release ego.
According to the Bhagavad Gita, the ego is an aspect of the eightfold division of the lower nature. It is a part of the physical reality.
While egolessness is the knower experiencing itself as part of the field or the pure consciousness.
Thus, the solutions to the ego are practices to release attachment to the illusion and to attain the experience of pure consciousness.
We must resolve to know and experience that:
We are not the doer (we are an instrument in the hands of God)
There is something bigger than the limited “I” that is the truth of the universal “I”
That we are part of all things/ people/ and God and Mother Divine
And we must:
We must learn to surrender to that
And learn to find the lessons of our soul in the play of the illusion
When one develops the discernment between the true self and the limited self, the ego takes a back seat and lets the true self become the center of one’s life. This is the state of egolessness as well as a pure state of spiritual self-awareness.
Maintain Loving the Self
Since part of the dysfunction of ego that is widespread is low self-esteem and lack of self-love, this egolessness must be accompanied by some experience of love. However, what is true of the state of spiritual awareness is that it is a state of love in which we are flowing, enveloped in love. This is ultimately experienced in the silence. In the state of meditation in which the small I disappears and the universal “I” is known. I have mentioned before the course from divine lineage call “Who am I” which explores how to get to that state in meditation.
But I believe the Shirdi Sai Baba also gave a pathway to egolessness that includes love.
Shirdi Sai Baba and Egolessness
Satya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema
Satya (truth) — Knowing the truth of God and the universal I
Sri Kaleshwar said the way to that knowing is surrendering to God:
“Whenever you sacrificed, when you offer your soul to the Almighty, with pure open heart, of course, the Almighty will accept you. Incredible amazing genius energy will start to flow in you. Whenever the energy is flowing, then you can taste that nectar of the energy. Then you can feel it. That’s a part of Satya.”
Dharma (right action)—Action not as a doer, and not attached to the fruits of action.
Sri Kaleshwar taught that the energy of satya would lead to dharma.
“That energy will make you do your duties in a proper way. That’s called dharma.”
Shanti—Inner peace or bliss
Sri Kaleshwar also taught that shanti is an outcome of dharma acted from satya.
“Whenever you’re doing your duties perfectly, you’ll get automatically inner bliss. That’s called shanti.”
Prema -- Divine love
Engaging in Dharma from the place of satya, not only bring shanti (inner peace), But it brings reflections from the illusion and nature that lead to the experience of prema (love).
“Whenever you did your works, after you got satisfaction, again the reflection back, the affection…That reflection back is so happy that you receive the prema. Satya, dharma, shanti, prema.” ~ Sri Kaleshwar
So, we see offered here a pathway through those ways to release ego and attain enlightenment and love. Start with Satya then take your actions from there.
How do we incorporate all this into our responses to (where the rubber meets the road) criticism?
Stop your first reactions of ego
If your first reaction is to lash back at the person giving the criticism, or to become defensive, take a minute before reacting at all. Take a deep breath and give it a little thought.
Detach from your inner lower “I” and your wounded or hurt reactions. Try to adopt a first reaction of giving the benefit of the doubt and compassion.
As the Dalia Lama said:
“The foundation of the Buddha's teachings lies in compassion, and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.”
Don’t take it personally
Taking it personally is the lower “I”. Understanding everything as about the illusion of self. Not taking it personally, recognizes this is just a play of the illusion on us to show us how we can transcend the small “I.”
Further, because it is an illusion play, what others see in us, is not even fully about us. It is us, as seen through the filter of their own reality, issues, blocks, and desires. So, when someone else criticizes you, they are really saying this is my perception, my feeling.
This does not mean that every negative observation of you is not worth hearing and thinking about. It does mean that you need to not take it personally, this is not fully about you. It is instead, part of an interactive engagement between you and issues and perceptions of the other.
Honor their feelings and perceptions and commit to truly considering their input. Compassion and truly trying to understand the stance of the other is a great healer of that interaction.
Thank the critic
Even if someone is harsh and rude, thank them. They might have been having a bad day, or maybe they’re just a negative person in general. But even so, your attitude of gratitude will probably catch them off-guard and help to diffuse whatever is their own reaction within their statements.
Further, gratitude is one of those bridging states of consciousness. Like forgiveness, it allows to let go of illusion attachments and focus into our loving hearts. It also helps others to do the same.
Turn a negative into a positive
See it as an opportunity to improve — and without that constant improvement, we are just sitting still. Improvement is a good thing. Everything that comes our way is for the benefit of our souls. Even if it just the lesson of how to be a kind and graceful person in the face of negativity. Ask yourself: What part of this criticism is useful? What part of this is my soul lesson? Put what issues are useful in your own words and reflect on your own experience of that.
Learn from the criticism and apply what you learn
Set and implement goals for yourself on how to shift whatever it is you need to learn. Your soul will thank you.
Beyond this, go into your meditation with it. Take it to a Divine Soul to guide you.
Be the better person (in you)
You win your karma by being your highest self no matter what. So be that. Act from the truth of you. Know the Satya of your tur soul nature as love, God, Mother Divine.
Then act in dharma (right action). Be kind, gracious, compassionate, considerate of the other’s feelings for sake of being that.
Finally, learn from the criticism and be your best.
In the last episode (Part 1) we discussed how handling criticism requires handling ego. In this episode, we talk about the practices of handling criticism. Listen and learn the practices of releasing ego and facing and reacting to criticism in a divine way that enhances your soul.
To learn more about the class on silence meditation “Who am I”, go to https://learn.divinelineage.org/p/who-am-i
Cindy Lindsay Rael
has been an energy healer and teacher for 25 years. She has studied with Sri Kaleshwar since 2001. She is a graduate of Kaleshwar's Soul University in India and is a certified teacher of the ancient mantra and yantra systems. Prior to her work in the Vedic tradition, she studied, conducted healing, and taught in the Inca traditions of Peru. Cindy also earned a PhD. in Psychology and was a university professor and consultant.
Cindy conducts both distance and in-person healing sessions and teachings. To read more on her approach to Sai Shakti Healing see www.divinesoulhealer.com. In addition, Cindy offers Divine Baby Blessings to pregnant mothers and works with many issues of the Holy Womb (www.wombhealing.com).