If you want to commit to doing personal work and invest in personal growth, spend some serious time reading your own comments on other people’s articles. It’s pretty revealing.
When people get annoyed with me when I write Do the Work, or discuss Deep Work, I can understand the frustration. This time I’ll make it both easy and immediate. It’s right in front of us every single time we pen a response on Medium. And since everything I write is as much a letter to myself, please assume that I am pointing this at me just as much as I am offering this up for public consumption.
One article by a favorite writer as well as a comment on a recent story of mine absolutely underscored the above today. First, this by Jessica Wildfire:
Wildfire points out with her usual alacrity how those folks who are barking at her about why SHE’s the problem and SHE doesn’t get it are doing a picture- perfect job of demonstrating why, in fact, THEY are the problem, which is why they are doing their level best to prove her wrong. If it weren’t so exhausting it would be funny, which is why we so desperately need to exhume George Carlin.
For those in the adult learning world, this is such a grand example of unconscious incompetence that I have to thank the lugnuts who put in the time to demonstrate this for us. We genuinely appreciate the shining example.
But wait, there’s more.
I penned a piece about boundaries, and as is my habit I made a variety of connections to other topics. It is the mark of a lively brain (and a busted one, in my case) that one sees all kinds of connectivity where others may not. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, nor does it mean that others are stupid not to see it. However one Dear Reader decided I was an idiot, and penned a VERY long response bullying me about the shit job I was doing in my article about setting boundaries.
You can see what’s coming. In the process she did a fine job of putting on her cleats and stomping all over my boundaries, informing of what I meant, what I said, what I intended, none of which had any base in reality, as she has no access to my inner thoughts or intentions.
Which of course, precisely demonstrated my point about people who can’t respect boundaries.
If you read any of the pieces that are penned by those of us who have spoken out about racism and sexual assault, read the comments. Read what the assholes write on Marley K.’s pieces, or any of the other anti-racism and outspoken Black writers from Johnny Silvercloud to Sharon Hurley Hall. Read the comments for Gillian Sisley and any other writer who dares take on pop culture and the patriarchy.
If you edit out those who respect our truth or share our pain, the rest tends to be from people who cannot stop themselves from spraying sewage graffiti all over other’s work. In the process they are demonstrating how, by victim-blaming, they ARE the problem, they perpetuate the problem.
I don’t need to keep going. You get it.
To my point, and my title. If I had the wits god gave a goose, I might bloody well sit down and read the shit I penned before I published it. Therein I might find out precisely where the problem lies, for in my being so determined to kill off, blame, silence or otherwise muzzle the messenger, I am blaring to the world that I am indeed the problem.
Having the courage to ask myself “what part of this is true about ME?” is the beginning of wisdom. The beginning of deep work. For what I throw at others has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the shit in my bucket.
My buddy Rosennab, who left Medium a while back and whose conversation I am deeply honored to continue to enjoy, commented a long time ago that the only relationship we have is with ourselves. This is of course a profound and fundamental spiritual teaching, but one way it works in real life is precisely what I suggested: READ YOUR COMMENTS BEFORE YOU PUBLISH THEM.
I do. Sometimes I promptly delete. Or edit. Or publish and later delete. For in the body of that comment I am ONLY speaking to myself, especially if I’m defensive or on the attack or offended.
I often do not like what my comments reveal. However, Dr. Bakari pointed out to me another great truth which I will share: the comments only hurt if at least a part of it exists in us. If we carry summa that, it’s going to hurt.
THAT is Deep Work. That is the ability to take the basement stairs into the dark of your own inner world, holding a dim flashlight, and facing off with the shitheel demons which exist there. You and I are the only ones who can strip them of their power. We feed them more power when we paint others with our hate, our judgment, our blame.
Comments that we write are love letters to ourselves. Sometimes they hurt. However they show the way to healing.
Comments that others write which hurt us are love letters to us, which tell us where we need to do Deep Work. If we feel that pain, that means that something in us believes what they say is true. That admission allows healing.
Read that paragraph again. I didn’t say that what mean and angry people said WAS true. If there is something in us that responds, that means it’s possible we may believe it’s true. That’s why attending to what rises in us points the way to Deep Work.
You really want to grow? You really truly want to evolve and touch the sacred within?
I recommend this practice. When someone writes an article that really really REALLY gets your goat, pen a response. DO NOT PUBLISH. Then walk away and come back to it later. Read it with different eyes. And ask: what in this is true about me? Why am I so offended and angry?
Where do I need to do the healing?
Most will never, ever, ever have the courage to do that. But for those who do, you will grow wings.
And to janny’s heart, who sent me an invite, this is my response. THIS is how we rise up from sadness. We take responsibility, we grow, we CHOOSE.