Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Bad Press / Good Experience

Exertec, Napa, California, USA

June 17, 2010



This essay, Bad Press / Good Experience, is the companion piece to The Cult Of Transformation?.



We're human. We prefer being complimented more than being criticized. We prefer being spoken well of more than being spoken badly of. We like it  when people like us. We don't like it  when they don't. And that's just on the surface of it. Deep down it's the master gyroscope, it's the very pilot  of our lives which is finely tuned to navigate toward approval and away from disapproval. That's the GPS  ie the Global Positioning System which really  guides us. We want to look so good so bad  (now that's a play if ever there was one: wanting to look "so good so bad")  that we place others' judgements of us above our own experience of Self  - that is to say we place our own interpretations  of others' judgements of us above our own experience of Self.

Stop and consider this: reacting to being criticized or reacting to being spoken badly of is exactly the same attachment  as reacting to being complimented or reacting to being spoken well of. Yes it's the same attachment. The same reaction. The same god-damned reaction. Except we prefer being complimented and being spoken well of - as if our preference means something. We prefer being complimented and being spoken well of, to being criticized and being spoken badly of - as if being complimented and being spoken well of has value, and being criticized and being spoken badly of doesn't.

As if  ... and yet as attachments  they're identical. And here's the thing: we assume the value is in being complimented and in being spoken well of. But I assert the real  value is in being criticized and in being spoken badly of.

How so?

If you choose to have it be so, I assert there's a hidden value in being criticized and in being spoken badly of which isn't as dramatically accessible in being complimented and in being spoken well of. I assert if you choose to have it be so, being criticized or being spoken badly of has the possibility of training you to really listen. Being trained to really listen has solid gold put it in the bank  inestimable value.

I don't mean "really listen" as if being criticized or being spoken badly of is something you should give credence to and take to heart.

To "really listen" is to give something the space to be what it is and what it isn't. That's why it's harder  to be coached to really listen by being complimented and by being spoken well of. That's why it's easier  to be coached to really listen by being criticized and by being spoken badly of. You don't want to learn swordsmanship  from someone who comes at you with a velvet banana. You want to learn swordsmanship from someone who comes at you with a razor sharp stainless steel cutlass.

We love being complimented and being spoken well of so much we're seduced  by them. Given the attachment, it's more likely we'll bask in  a compliment than listen it. And even if you distinguish that's how being complimented lands for you so you can listen it openly rather than be attached to it, the challenge of listening being complimented ie the challenge of letting being complimented be, doesn't generate nearly as potent an opportunity to be trained as listening being criticized and being spoken badly of generates.

It's easy  to be open and to listen when they're saying nice things about you. It's a lot more challenging to be open and to listen when they're saying terrible things about you. But if what you're after is being open and listening, then consider those who say terrible things about you may be your most effective trainers. Not in terms of giving credence to what they say and taking what they say to heart. Rather, simply in terms of creating the space to let what they say be.

Remember this: it doesn't matter what they say. It's just their opinion anyway. It's just an opinion. That's all it is. And you know what wise men say about what an opinion and an asshole have in common? "Everyone's got one - and so what?!".

So don't fret the bad press. Don't fret when they trash that which you hold dear. If you really  want to be trained to listen, to let it be, this is actually a perfect golden opportunity. Read all the bad press. Read all of it. Read every bit of it. Read it over and over and over again until it's just what it is and just what it isn't and you have no charge on it anymore and you have no attachment to it anymore and you don't react to it anymore. Then your training is really complete.

That's how you transform bad press into a good experience.



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