And no doubt we all like to receive gifts. At some level, each of us enjoy opening something special that someone has prepared for us. We like the idea of them thinking of that special something that we like, and being thoughtful enough to give it to us. I know for me, there are some special gifts in my life I've been given that I treasure.
But, if we're honest, there are some things we give and get from each other that aren't as enjoyable as opening presents on Christmas morning.
For example, emotional unhealth that isn't dealt with inevitably spills over into the people around you. Passive aggressive comments have the power to build walls between family members. And outright rude criticisms have enough strength to divide even the best of friends.
I know some of the things that have the power to cause us the deepest pain are unintentional, but we still make the exchange.
Recently, a man whom I respect shared some observations regarding something I've worked really hard to create. And in that moment, I received a something I didn't want.
Honestly, I wasn't expecting the criticisms, and I was embarrassed. If I'm truthful, some of my heart was wrapped up in the object of the observations, and I took it really personally.
So, I went home and slept on it.
The next day, I shared with a close friend how I was feeling and talked through the situation. We talked through what had happened, how I was processing through it, and how personally I took the observations. And to be honest – I wasn't expecting the response.
My friend encouraged me to look at the observations and "criticisms" as a gift.
A gift? Seriously?
But, it's true.
What if we looked at the criticisms and pushbacks in our life as a gift?
See, the person who came and shared with me really has my best interest at heart. I trust them. Also, they pointed out things that my limited vision didn't see in that moment. And they had the maturity and love to actually talk to me about it in person – instead of talking about it behind my back. In fact, some of the points they shared will help me become better and improve.
What would happen if we looked at the criticisms, observations and suggestions in our life as a gift instead of a personal attack? How would that change our limited view of ourselves and of our interactions with others? What would happen if we all were more open to feedback – with the hopes that we would actually grow and change?
I think if we all looked at feedback as a gift, we would benefit - and the gifts we receive wouldn't be a travel mug, a picture frame or a new shirt. Instead, we'd get a good dose of reality, a step toward self-actualization, and the grace to improve.
Published: August 29, 2011