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In trying to figure out how to be simple and straight forward about my work and the philosophy behind it, what kept coming up was pain. How do we live with the pain in our lives, the pain of being human? We're all recipients of pain from others, and we likely inflict it on others at times too, even the kindest of us. What's left after the damage is done? I think this is an interesting question, and I know most of us don't like to visit it too often. But stay with me, because there is potential in asking this question for our own well-being. People who hurt us wound us, of course, but I also think you could see these wounds as deficits. 

If, when you were in middle school, your sibling told you that others didn't really want to be your friend because you were too “emotional”, you might begin to feel that the emotion that fuels your creativity is unwarranted, making what you create feel rather empty, or illegitimate. 

If your mother criticizes your parenting skill, you might begin to overlook, or even doubt your parenting strengths. 

If a college dorm roomate shared that they thought you were socially awkward at a party, you might lose faith in your ability to connect with others. 

We then feel a deficit in the creative outcome of our emotion, our parenting strengths, and our ability to connect with others. And when we believe we have a deficit in who we are, we often stop putting energy into the growth of the criticized aspect, possibly alienating an actual strength that we might have. We now perceive a deficit because of someone else's criticism, no matter how wrong they were. 

The work that remains is deciding how to live with these wounds, or deficits in us. Sometimes, people who have created them know they have, and will try to make amends. They try to make amends because they care about you, and care about the kind of people they want to be. They want to repair the wound. And the ones who deliver them, are really the only ones who can heal the wound. Think about the previous examples. Maybe the middle schooler who wears his emotions on his sleeve is a sensitive soul who should be supported because his unique perceptions inspire beautiful art. Maybe the college student at the party struggles with social anxiety and is doing her best to increase her faith in her ability to overcome this anxiety. Maybe the young parent got only two hours of sleep the night before. Support and understanding are almost always the appropriate response, and the person who doesn't get satisfaction from hurting people will hopefully consider this, and repair the wound caused by their criticism. 

But then there are people who don't care that they created deficits in you, and have no intention of trying to repair the harm. They create deficits in you, which can never be repaired or filled, because they are the only ones who can do this. Don't depend on them to repair their criticism, as you may be waiting your whole life. Instead, ask yourself what will you do with your wounding? Consider that at some point, it's not so much about their misperception, but the pain they caused for you. You may come to understand that yes, they were wrong about you. But the pain they inflicted on you can grow and remain present in your life for a long time. 

If you choose not to care for your wounds and grow from them, you might spend a lifetime in a cycle of trying to heal the harm you didn't create. Depending on the wound, you might even cause misery not just for yourself, but for those around you. Will you let those who created your wounding be successful in causing you to relinquish your life in this way? Or will you use it to expand your compassion for yourself? Will you use it to expand your compassion for others? If you do, your pain will yield something beautiful that can spread through individuals, families, communities. The price to be paid is learning how to love and accept yourself for who you are, and then using your pain as a reminder that life is hard, and making the effort to understand and help each other is the solution to the problem of criticism. 

Helping people turn pain into love for themselves and others then, is a large part of the philosophy behind my work. If this makes sense to you, and you would like support in transforming pain in your life, I hope you will take time to meet with me to see if I might be able to help you achieve this for yourself.