I take a deep breath when I sit down to write. I feel relieved to have the opportunity to tune in rather than out. I listen to the words that come up from my heart and I allow them to take form on the page. Sometimes it’s a very long process that is not unlike transition labor; pacing, swearing and deep breathing included. Other times the words just fall out of me like the offspring of a big earth mama on her third delivery. In either case, the piece arrives in a form that is not quite ready for human consumption. I send it off to my dear editor, who happens to be my older daughter. She uses her sharp eye to scan for flaws and spits back the corrected copy at the speed of light.
We all need an editor. What we don’t need is a critic.
So there’s our topic for today. A bit cumbersome but I’ll give it a go.
Let’s say that editing is supportive. That it comes from love. Without it we would be uncensored and chaotic. On the other hand, let’s say that criticizing is against us. That it comes from fear. We develop our critical thinking in order to protect ourselves. Without it our fear is that we would be defenseless.
Editing is positive. We are able to offer it to ourselves and both give and receive it from others when we feel loved and accepted. When we trust that we are okay at the core, we are able to open our hearts and minds to receive new input. We can use the edits to help us grow. We learn not to take things personally. We are flexible, resilient, and responsive.
Criticizing is negative. It arises from the perception that we are not fully loved and accepted. Our inner critic attacks both ourselves and others. It is too painful to consider feedback when we believe that we are flawed. Everyone ends up attacking and defending and no improvements are made. Individual and relational growth is stunted. We are brittle, inflexible and reactive.
The remedy is clear, simple, and simultaneously the most challenging work we can do. That remedy is to teach ourselves that we are fully loved and accepted, not in spite of, but because of who we are. Once we establish this compassionate point of view, we can choose to dismiss the fearful criticism and embrace the loving edits that come our way, both from ourselves and from others. We can truly listen and calmly respond to differing needs, requests and ideas. We can ask permission to edit others and request edits for ourselves. We can actually hear, maybe for the first time, when a loved one or co-worker is suffering from their own inner critic and allowing it to distort their point of view. Empathy develops, shifts are made, and connections grow stronger and more loving.
As we soften our critic, our editor grows into a supportive, devoted friend.
I’m feeling a bit closer to my own editor these days. I am also truly grateful to find that one of my supportive, devoted friends happens to be my daughter. Honestly, I cherish the edits I receive from both of my daughters, and I know that they have grown to be grateful for mine.
We all need loving editors, both within and without. Open your heart and yours will appear.
With appreciation, Jane