How To Release Attachment To Criticism: An Enlightened Approach To Bullying & Bigotry


I just wrote to a coach who asked me how to not care about criticism. I thought it worth sharing more widely.

I asked what kind of person I would have to be to stand and face excoriating judgement and criticism and have it not faze me. The answer was, knowing deep within myself that every impulse and urge I have, as long as it harms none, are divinely inspired, right and sacred for me.

Pick a prophet, another type of person who is here to help others. None escaped judgement. Yet they stood in the middle of that fire of withering scorn, confident and comfortable in their convictions about their message and purpose. It is no different for you and me with our messages and purpose.

As people who care deeply about others, as helpers, as coaches, we were born, you and I, to liberate, change and inspire people to live their best lives. To lift them up, and hold the sacred torch of their dreams when they cannot. To hand it back to them, and help them remember who they truly are.

Remember that, when the stones are thrown and mockingbirds screech, and you too will stand firm and comfortable in your choices, in who you are.

It takes practice. Every day for me is a practice, especially during the (thankfully now rare) times when someone I admire or wish to befriend tries to knock me down. But then, I remember why I am here, that the person jeering is blind and cannot see that, and the fact that they jeer means they are probably blind to their own purpose too. And that creates a space for compassion for them that eliminates feelings of inadequacy or shame on my end.

Then I remember that we are really One, and anyone who would mock me for being slow, disabled, old, or (insert any target of bigotry here) must be in some awful pain themselves, not to get that I am a mirror to them, every bit as much as they are to me. And that causes compassion to flow even stronger.

Most of the time I keep my sense of self and everything is fine. Sometimes it doesn’t work though, and I end up feeling crestfallen and shamed for daring to be a fat, disabled eyesore in their perfect world. I walk away slowly, acutely aware that my occasionally odd gait (which I sometimes can’t control) irritates them even further and they are jeering even more as I leave.

I take the first breath, and then the next.

I remember my purpose here is sacred, that I am that person’s teacher even as they are mine, and give thanks for that rare opportunity. That’s when I remember to meditate. To keep breathing.

It’s a practice. Every day.

I am here to free us both. I can’t make others’ decisions. I can only choose how I will feel and react.

I choose peaceful.

I choose loving.

I choose…to empty my mind and simply be present to What Is.

*Photo from Robert Dilts 2012 presentation on The Hero’s Journey in Mountain View, California.
I’m Maryam Webster and I help passionately opinionated women create juicy and profitable second lives beyond corporate careers, divorce & “empty nest syndrome”. Together we focus on creating an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on the planet. Want to get help on transforming your life and having a juicy Second Act, get your Breakthrough here. 

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