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    • The other day when I wrote about growing up on the streets, I noticed the two times I had the clearest memory are (1) when I was made fun of/looked down on for something, and (2) when I managed to achieve something I thought was great.

      I wish the times I was criticised didn't stick so hard. I want to learn the lessons and move on, not dwell on it forever and waste my brain cycles, which is exactly what my wife says I do. I wish I could be like Jeff Bezos and say "the only real problem in life is to be ignored."

      Every now and then I run into articles like this:

      I agree with them. I vow to put it to work. I fail. I notice with Michelle Obama's book tour, she has the same problem. You?

    • This is the most powerful thing for me when criticized by those who really don’t know me-

      Know That It Says More About Them Than About You

      Why else would a person criticize one they don’t know?

      For those who know me I look for the truth in what they’re saying as at some level I believe they care.

      For those who love me I listen intently as criticism is usually offered when I “earlier” failed to hear opinions/critiques/observations.

      Who the critic is matters more than the criticism offered-

      Still a challenge and not always handled as well as hoped.

      Much respect Chris, for rising above the obstacles set before you in early life and the beautiful family and person you are.

      Through the trials of life we grow and build character. We count this as Joy-

    • King Canute, in myth anyway, had his court plonk his throne by the ocean and he tried to stop the rising tide.

      He couldn't, of course. That was his point to his subjects -- that he wasn't omnipotent.

      Trying to suppress hurt feelings after being criticized is the same kind fruitless task.

      We are an entirely social animal. We have chosen to pack ourselves into tight groups and we sacrifice individual wants to the needs of the group.

      Approval and disapproval from others is a fundamental mechanism for a successful society.

      So to deny your feelings is to deny your nature. Unless you're a sociopath or psychopath.

    • I don’t think I detach. I think I absorb.

      Sometimes I can pull something out useful, sometimes I criticize them for be so critical.

    • It depends on whether it’s in public or private. It depends on whether there’s a quick fix to correct my deficiency or at least hope that I can make a positive change in the not too distant future.

    • Some people seem to turn the criticism into motivation. Michael Jordan was famous for that and some scientists who had opposition to their theories, like one of my professors did, seem to work themselves in a frenzy to prove their critics wrong. I really admire that.

      On the other hand, I admire Sara Blakely, who started Spanx. She said her formula for success was not letting people criticize her idea, making sure she didn't hear it, because she said if she had heard it she wouldn't have persisted. I guess by that she means it would have cast enough doubt on the idea that she would have given up.

    • I'm very self-critical, in a mostly good and productive way as opposed to a self-defeating or low self-esteem way. But one thing that really stings for some reason is when someone else gives me criticism that I already know is right.

      It's sort of like...yeah, I know that and I'm working on it, but now that I know that you know it too, it suddenly bothers me a lot more. 😖

      In terms of offering criticism to other people, I often have to remind myself not to criticize others the same way (or with the same frequency) that I criticize myself. Sometimes I forget that my tone and intent are always completely clear to me, but that's not always the case when someone else is on the receiving end.

    • I just have a quick story to contribute, thought of when recently someone said to me "if you see I have few buttons undone, or paint on my forehead, something that would be embarrassing to mention, would you tell me or not?". The moral was that if you care about a person - you would tell them if something was wrong. Now am not sure if here we are discussing the impact of criticizing someone with intent to harm them or help them.

    • Wow, that’s completely fascinating. Thanks for sharing. I think it’s exactly the opposite for me. I have a whole long list of weaknesses I know about that I either have struggled to fix or have decided I can’t/won’t.

      When someone brings up one of my known weaknesses, if I don’t point it out first, it doesn’t bother me. I kinda like it because it gets it out in the open so we can all adjust to it. It’s really handy for people around me to know my weaknesses so someone who’s better at a thing can help.

      What makes me absolutely crazy is when I feel falsely accused, especially when they accuse me of some devious or ill intent. I can tell myself all day that they can’t know intent, they’re wrong, that it says more about them than me, but it festers and I keep returning to it, wasting time and energy. Argh.

      I don’t know how politicians of good intent shake it off when they know millions of people will believe stories about them forever and that they were made up to win elections.

    • What makes me absolutely crazy is when I feel falsely accused, especially when they accuse me of some devious or ill intent.

      Oh those are the worst! It can be the most draining in person conversation with my accuser because I’m having to defend myself, listen to their further accusations and at the same time acknowledge their feelings and try to diffuse the situation from escalating. And when I’ve been able to convince the other person of my innocence, there’s still some anger left over for me mixed with frustration with the hour or whatever it took out of my day to resolve it.

      On social media, I just block people. It’s the whole public disrespect that crosses a boundary for me: DM me on Twitter and give me a chance to respond privately if you think I’ve done something wrong.

    • How do I detach from criticism?

      I always have to have a to-do list somewhere for 3-4 of my own pet projects. After I consider the criticism and come to a conclusion about it, I then concentrate very hard on my to-do list and *move forward* on one of these personal projects. It whisks me past the criticism and back onto my chosen path. I leave the criticism behind.

      This works best for me because it makes me feel proactive. I’m back in control of who I am, and making progress again instead of letting the criticism derail me.

    • I’m sort of surprised at this because you have had to do some pretty serious detachment and re-definition of the self in order to leave the church. I am really curious about the way you handled that separation.

    • That's an example of something that still bothers me no matter what I do.

      For those following along, I was very active Mormon for 35 years. The church has everyone serve in various callings, which we did faithfully and made hundreds of dear friends.

      If we had done that for almost any other charitable organization like The Peace Corps, we'd get a thank you, get invited to reunions and alumni events, be put on the mailing list, and retain friends for life. But in the church, members often assume anyone who leaves wanted to sin in some way or had lost the faith from lack of diligence.

      In my case I have the greatest respect for members of the church and what almost all of them stand for — family, virtue and hard work. My problem is I simply lost faith in the doctrine. Some of the people I admire most in this world have not lost their faith and are very devoted Mormons, so I'm well aware I could be wrong. It just really bothers me that in the eyes of some dear friends and extended family (by virtue of my sons marrying their daughters), I am tainted.

      👆 Lets hope I didn't just make the situation worse by posting that.

    • I just watched a video of a priest, also professor at a university of theology, who gave up after a life of belief in a doctrine. As he puts it "religion is a whole, if one small piece fails, the whole fails" He just could no longer do what he did knowing he'd be lying to himself, and goes on about saying how -among other things that are manufactured truths easily identified - the pride of higher church bishops prevails over actual Christian humanitarian principles that were supposed to be at the foundation of the whole institution of church, which ultimately fails to see where it can help us be human. He also says if modern church will not revise all it's social position in this era, it is doomed for its intended purpose. And what will that be I wonder..

    • I, too, have a history with the Mormon church much like yours. 42 years of faithful service. I’m a returned missionary, even. The challenges that eventually came into my life were literally beyond the comprehension of my ecclesiastical leaders, and I found myself having to cope with them on my own. Paradoxically, I developed a stronger awareness of spiritual things as I became less and less active in the church.

      In fact, maybe that’s the key... I sort of feel that I didn’t so much leave the church as I outgrew the church.

      My siblings are still very active Mormons and don’t know what to do with me. It is awkward. They know I’m not a sinner, so they can’t understand what happened, but they sure aren’t going to risk delving into it with me and perhaps lose their own faith! Ha. They feel threatened somehow and are very defensive. I have been out of the church for more than 10 years and see it from a very different perspective now. Sometimes I forget just how brain-washed they are, and wrongly assume they have the ability to see the world objectively. This assumption inevitably leads to disaster.

      The most frustrating times are when a niece or nephew gets married. My siblings have no concept of what it’s like to get a wedding announcement and know that I again have to face the absurdity of not being “worthy” to attend this family celebration. Gawd. what a lame “family first” religion...

    • I’m convinced my mother is one of the few actual Latter-day Saints. She has somehow figured out a way to stay active and still be my greatest supporter. According to church doctrine, she will never make it to the celestial kingdom because my father made her life hell. Meh. She has developed a faith beyond that of her leaders and lives by her faith. We have chosen different paths in response to difficult circumstances, but her compassion and love has made a world of difference.

    • I grew up in what a mayor of New York City called a “cafeteria plan religion.” There was an official papal doctrine, but people generally believed the parts they wanted to and ignored the rest. It was amazing to me when I went away to university and met people who followed their church doctrine to the letter.

      Shunning is actually quite common in many faith-based groups. Both the Scientologists and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that they are helping to save the shunned through emotional blackmail to return, as well as to save the believers from the corrupting influence of nonbelievers.

      The Amish, I think, are the most upfront about the consequences of shunning and even give their young adults a year or two to try out the outside world before making a final commitment. But the consequences of leaving the faith are the same.

    • Chris MacAskill

      I'm so sorry to hear that. This is a very hard problem for me because I have family I adore who are faithful members, and dear Mormon friends who are on Cake.

      I helped my daughter move into her new house with a half dozen volunteers from her local ward and the vibe was so wonderful. Everyone was helpful, warm, fun, bound by a common interest in a really strong community, good with the children, etc. I had an overwhelming feeling of the good the church can bring and how I miss it.

      Here's an example of my dilemma: our Stake President and Bishop came to visit me when I left, saying they really should hear why I'm no longer active. They're both wonderful people, decades-long friends, smart, accomplished, great families. I don't want to do anything to hurt their faith, which is so important to them. They genuinely love the church and can't imagine life without it.

      But they wanted to know. So I gave examples like this one: The Book of Mormon makes it clear that vast populations of the Americas were descended from a Jewish family who sailed here from Jerusalem. We've sent out legions of missionaries to Native Americans and the people of Central and South America to tell this story.

      But now we know there are no Native Americans, Aztecs, Mayans, Olmecs, or any other native American population with Middle Eastern DNA; they're all of Asian descent. I can't feel good about encouraging missionaries to teach Native Americans a false origin story about their ancestors. It doesn't seem fair that I should be suspected of wanting to sin or to be unfaithful because of that.

      My two visitors didn't have an answer to that but we remain friends and they remain active in the church. I don't know how they process it except to say you can't believe everything you read on the Internet.

      That's something I love about science: if you can find an error in a theory and discover a new one that proves to be more correct, you get a medal. My friend Simon Southerton, a former Bishop in the church and Phd geneticists who was the first to publish about the DNA of Native Americans, got excommunicated. His 6 sisters apparently are like your family, wondering how to think about him now. But of course his science has been validated tens of thousands of times by Ancestry.com, where anyone can get a DNA test for less than $100. And yet...

    • I had a similar experience with my bishop. By the time I realized the church was just a shell or a crutch for my personal faith and was easing my way out (I’m not as confrontational as you are-ha), I found myself kind of protecting others from my perspective. At one point, I just smiled knowingly at my bishop, who is as intellectually aware as anyone I know (he is an attorney specializing in bio-genetic intellectual property). We both knew that if I answered his question, “So what’s up?” we would end up in a place that would compromise his ability to lead. I wasn’t interested in doing that and he suddenly felt very alone, I’m afraid. (In fact, I heard he left the church a year or two later. I’m glad I don’t bear any guilt about that.)

      I didn’t have to do a systematic search for the truth to come to the conclusion that there were too many inconsistencies. I knew from my own experience that it was absurd to continue to relinquish my own agency to members of a priesthood that had no idea of the challenges I was facing and were perfectly happy being little cogs in the wheels of self-deception for the purpose of perpetuating a system of order.

      It is very comforting to know the rules of a community and to rise through the ranks as one who obeys those rules. Eventually, as the patriarch of a family grounded in the community, one is either deluded by one’s own sense of self-righteousness, or trapped by the expectations one has perpetuated. I am not at all surprised that your bishop and stake president chose to ignore the facts you presented, and chose to continue along their own path that reinforces their personal sense of importance. That’s very human.

      On the other hand, going through the process of vetting one’s beliefs and acting accordingly is tough work.

      As I eased my way out of the church, a powerful analogy kept haunting me. I realized that I had been raised in a mansion of belief—so many little rooms, so much decorative ritual, such elaborate belief... as I began to step away from that mansion, I started to pare down what was relevant to me personally. I imagined dwelling in a little cottage. These were the things that mattered most. Then, eventually, my psyche seemed to prefer a one-room cabin out in the forest. Finally, I was completely on my own with a bedroll in the wilderness. Out on my own, learning where I fit in the universe by navigating the stars. That’s my comfort zone today. Some people need the mansion. Others are adventurers and explorers and need to push themselves toward their own meaningful existence and understanding of how they fit in the world...

    • Chris MacAskill

      It's funny where this conversation has gone, from detaching from criticism to loss of one's faith.

      I think the way they tie together for me is a sense of purpose and self-worth. There was a story the other day that stuck with me about men's happiness:

      I want to feel that I'm doing something worthwhile, making a difference, needed, wanted, appreciated. Criticism is not easy to detach from if it feels like it could be true, that what I'm doing isn't worthwhile or good or making a difference.

      And that is what I think makes it so very difficult for a faithful member of a church to hear criticism. What if the decades of service they devoted wasn't worthwhile after all? What if the criticism about it is true? That's pretty hard to face or detach from if you eventually accept it. I'm watching my friends who helped build Facebook go through that as they wonder if the 10 years they devoted to it was a force for good, and criticism about it now haunts them.

    • Criticism to be useful needs to lead to change. Whether it’s criticism that helps you to grow or that leads you to quit a job that your not suited for, if there isn’t any possibility of change resulting from the criticism then it’s wasted words.

      I just finished listening to the audiobook Curiosity by Brian Grazer and he talks about the need to adopt an “anti-curiosity mindset.” After you’ve asked all the right questions and completed your due diligence, it can only sap your energy if you listen to the people who say no to your idea. I think it’s similar to your reference of Sarah Blakely’s attitude in shepherding Spanx.

    • That article right there explains your bishop’s and stake president’s reaction to your questioning. They would rather retain their own happiness which is based on their standing in the church—they are honored and revered for what others judge to be selfless sacrifices and meaningful leadership—than consider the possibility that what gives them a sense of purpose is actually detrimental in some way.

      My brother is caught up in this very hierarchy of “humble importance.” He has trained himself to respond to any challenge with the mantra, “I love my sister,” which is basically his way of innoculating himself from anything that might jeopardize his understanding of what is true and meaningful. Whenever he says that phrase, I know it is his way of signaling that he is going into ostrich-mode: sticking his head in the sand.

      Self-reflection and ambiguity are not for the faint of heart. Hierarchies and absolutism are much simpler to navigate.

      Don’t get caught up in the no man’s land between the two. Pick your path (or listen as the path picks you), and do the best you can. Learn to respect those who pick the other path, but stay true to your own nature.

      @Chris (if I may), you are a phenomenal person with an extraordinary history and a remarkable will. A little bit of self-doubt and questioning is what has brought you to this point in life. Not only have you seen that church doctrine is not based on actual fact, but you have also been strong enough to recognize that church policies are actually *hurting* people and even driving them to suicide. Your honesty with yourself and your willingness to act are absolutely a beacon of leadership (for others who also question) to discover and emulate.

      To circle back to the original purpose of this thread... you do not have to reject the people who criticize you, but you do have to become strong enough to reject the criticism. As I mentioned, my way of doing this is to refocus my attention on a pet project and resume a sense of pro-active forward momentum rather than dwell on the criticism and try to find an acceptable compromise. It is impossible to walk two paths. You came to a fork in the road. You chose a path. You cannot set-up camp at the fork and dwell there forever, you have to move forward. Soon enough, you will come upon others who have also made that choice, and you will appreciate them for their self-reflection and ability to suspend judgement in the face of ambiguity.

      The work you did as a bishop was not wasted. The work your friend did to establish online connections via Facebook is not wasted. However, the organizations that gave both of you these opportunities have now reached beyond what is right and good. IMHO, others must bear the burden of loosing sight of the good and choosing to steer these organizations in a different direction...

      (As you can probably tell, I am getting carried away a bit because *I* also need to remind myself of these things from time to time. Heh.

      Sorry.

      I’ll stop now.)

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