One of the most challenging aspects of being social creatures is dealing with criticism, especially when it comes from individuals we respect and love. Criticism can often trigger feelings of shame, which is a complex emotion that helps us conform to societal norms. Some philosophers and psychologists argue that a healthy sense of shame is natural. However, individuals with a damaged sense of self may find any form of humiliation or embarrassment overwhelming. This can lead to overcompensation, where a person goes to great lengths to protect themselves from potential embarrassment. These reactions are rooted in anxiety.
To break free from this cycle, it's crucial to become aware of what triggers feelings of shame and how we defensively respond with aggression, depression, or other negative reactions. Recognizing these triggers allows us to interrupt the pattern and find healthier coping mechanisms. As we grow older, it becomes essential to develop the ability to identify when we are being triggered and to find ways to bring ourselves back to a state of emotional balance and self-acceptance.
Engaging in psychotherapy can be incredibly valuable when working through these issues. Talk therapy provides an excellent solution, as does journaling and reading from great masterworks to learn how to let go and surrender. However, nothing can replace the importance of building self-esteem.
Building self-esteem involves actively working on building confidence and engaging in esteemable acts. But even these actions are secondary to the crucial practice of dedicating time each day to sit with ourselves, engage in deep breathing, and meditate. Through meditation, we learn how to relax and bring ourselves back into a state of the parasympathetic nervous system.
If we are unable to return to a relaxed state of mind, no amount of effort or philosophical understanding will be able to alleviate the daily anxiety we experience. The solution lies in consistent practice and gradually increasing the duration of meditation sessions. There is no shortcut or easier way to achieve this, but through dedication and persistence, we can cultivate a more peaceful and centered state of being.