Nothing challenges our ego more than feedback. There are many ways we can receive feedback, and a performance appraisal is just one of them.
Having someone expressing a “judgement” about “us” can create lots of internal emotional reactions, and sometimes feels as if, what someone does or says, touches us at the core of who we are.
It is not an uncommon reaction, but it doesn´t have to be that way.
How we feel when we struggle to hear critical feedback (I know how it feels!) has to do with our insecurities, not with us.
The insecurities of our ego can kick in in many different ways: being anxious in advance about what we are going to hear, defending, denying, taking everything at heart, blaming ourselves or others, being disappointed, feeling guilty, not good enough, ruminating…
Funny enough, the positive reactions can also be a reaction from insecurity: feeling relieved or confirmed or reassured or strengthened, or confident, or proud. And even feeling joyful can sometimes be a reaction from our insecure ego that was waiting for some kind of confirmation for its rightness and gets a dopamine kick.
A whole range of emotional reactions can happen during a feedback conversation because the words we hear sometimes touch on sensitive spots.
If like me, you might have experienced some of those very human reactions yourself, the pleasant and the unpleasant ones. I just wanted to let you know that nothing that someone says or think about us has the power to make us feel anything. All the emotions, positive or negative, are the product of our thoughts and our own filters. Our feelings are provoked by how we hear the messages we get, not by what is said.
When we hear something that sounds like it says something about who we are, it touches our sense of self, our ego.
The thing is, our ego doesn´t know that it is not who we really are. Our ego is not the whole story of us, luckily.
Being conscious of that is life-changing!
It´s ok to feel everything; it´s just good to know that this is what happens in our minds. Noticing that our insecure ego is triggered, having just this millimetre sidestep from what we are experiencing and seeing what is going on in our mind is an incredible act of consciousness and self-love.
It doesn’t mean that we have to accept everything we hear; it’s the opposite: it opens up a whole new field of possibilities.
Listening to what somebody says with attention and interest while taking ownership of how we hear something is the pathway to freedom, peace of mind, learning and growth.
The good thing is that each of our triggers shows us where our sense of self still feels vulnerable. It is a tremendous gift to see that when it shows up.
It helps us discern what is helpful for our growth and what we don´t need to take on, not from an insecure ego, but from a place of grounding, inner peace and wisdom.
Knowing who we are and learning to deal with our own soft spots is the best potential booster that we will ever have!
PS: I know that giving feedback can also be challenging, even if you have done it dozens of times. I will write something about that as well in my next post.
Drissia Schroeder-Hohenwarth is a Psychologist and a Transformative Coach for Leaders, Teams, and Organisations with a fascination for the endless potential of the mind.
#transformativeconversations #leadership #ego #consciousness #wisdom #vulnerability #feedback