As a professional writer, counselor, and musician, I’ve received all kinds of feedback about my work. Most of the feedback I get is positive and supportive, and that’s part of the reason I continue to do what I do. But some of the feedback is, let’s just say, “cranky.”
Cranky feedback is especially interesting to me, because I usually know where it’s coming from, and can see myself in it. I’ll explain.
There was a time when I was quite unhappy, generally angry with life. During that period I felt it was my job to enlighten people about what I perceived as their faults, so I could help them improve! I thought it was up to me to fix everyone, which happened to be a more attractive proposition than trying to fix myself.
Other people’s faults, and my need to fix them, were a form of “projection” on my part. I was unhappy inside, and wherever I looked out in the world I found things to be unhappy about. The world was my inkblot, so I gave cranky feedback. My cranky feedback was usually uninvited, sometimes inappropriate, and rarely appreciated.
Eventually I got help letting go of my anger, became more comfortable and happy within, and came to see the world and other people differently. Life was brighter, and I noticed that my expression needed adjusting to suit the new me. Though I had changed within, I still made some of the same responses to life that I used to, back when I was angry. It’s called “force of habit.” So I began the process of monitoring what I said to others, and changing by behavior accordingly.
I still do that. These days, when I see something I don’t like, instead of offering “feedback,” especially cranky feedback, I ask myself a few questions.
The first question is, “Has this person asked for feedback?” Very rarely! But even if they have, I ask myself whether they really want it, or if they’re just looking for an “Atta-boy.” Unless there is a very clear call for input, I keep it to myself. I can make the most difference in the world by improving me, instead of trying to fix other people. And I’ve still got plenty to work on over here.
Speaking of which, the second question I might ask myself, is “What is it within me that upsets me about this other person?” This can be a rich question. It flips “the world as my projection,” to “the world as a revealing mirror.” When I’m really willing to look at myself, sometimes what I see isn’t so pretty. Self honesty is not for the faint of heart, but it sure can be productive!
In clearing out my anger and other “stuff,” I’ve found that my perceptions have become much sharper, and my intuition keener. These days it’s easy for me to see into people. So, when someone gives me cranky feedback, it usually doesn’t upset me; I can see where they’re coming from. There’s no need for me to respond. I know that I’m part of their projection, and if they choose, a potential mirror. Life brings its lessons to each of us, here in Earth School, and that all works just fine without me putting in my two cents.
So my suggestion is this. When you see something you don’t like, and have the urge to offer feedback, don’t. Ask yourself these two questions: “Do they really want feedback?” And “What is it within me that upsets me about the other person?” There’s usually plenty for us to do on ourselves, without trying to fix everyone else.
By the way, I should mention that there is one exception to the notion about not offering feedback unless it’s clearly asked for: Government, no matter who is in charge. Those in power don’t necessarily want our feedback, but we ALL need to give it. So go right ahead and be as cranky as you like! Please vote, and do whatever else you can, to be part of the positive change we need, and will continue to need, for a long time to come.
Oh, and also Internet and Cable TV Providers. You can be cranky with them too.