No one said it better than track number 8 on my higher-thought 1970’s children’s album Free To Be You And Me : ”Some kind of help is the kind of help that helping’s all about/ and some kind of help is the kind of help / we all could do without.” (Shel Silverstein © 1972, 1985 Arista Records, Inc.) The fact that this imbalance of intentions was made into a children’s song, 40 years ago, should tell us that people’s misguided need to insert themselves where they shouldn’t has been a problem for awhile now. It is one thing to offer observatory assistance – or “an opinion”– that has been asked for. It’s another thing to lack discernment and repeatedly offer assistance that has not. It’s what I like to call “Feedback-itis”, and it is an indicator of a fear consciousness in the person experiencing it, which regrettably gets slopped all over everyone else around them faster than an open paint can in the free hand of a bull rider.
With all the recent shifts in consciousness that the earth is undergoing right now, people’s fears of being out of control when faced with new situations are in high gear. One of the ways that human beings squelch this fear is to attempt to “gain control”. And one of the ways to create the illusion of control is by establishing oneself as “an authority” (because after all, if other people believe in you, then you should, too, right?) Ergo, one of the ways people attempt to establish themselves as “an authority” is by tossing out unsolicited criticism. Or, as they more prefer to package it – “feedback”.
Of course, there are such things as positive feedback, and solicited feedback, and marketing research feedback — but clearly, none of those types of feedback, which occur in a mutually agreed upon exchange by two or more parties, are the subject of this discussion.
We’re talking full-on, chip-crunching, beer-swigging, three-day-old-underpants-wearing bona fide armchair quarterbacks, here, people. And the team of Lazy Boy All Americans is growing by leaps and bounds every month as we crest through the fearful whitecaps of this dimensional transition. That’s not a good thing, unless your fantasy football league consists entirely of under-accomplished quarterbacks.
When giving feedback, we must be very careful that our spiritual intention is truly in the right place. I’m incredibly humbled to have been blessed with many different spiritual aptitudes, and one of those gifts, Empathy, enables me to see inside of people, everyday. So believe me when I tell you that every little person on this planet, even the most difficult and hardened of adult people, are only about four years old on the inside (yes, even you, Donald Trump), and none of us wants to have our baby hearts crushed. As such, for the greatest delivery and impact of the positive message we have to deliver, we must make sure to execute our feedback in a way that reflects our intention of coming from that “right place”, rather than an attempt to manipulate a situation, person, or a specific outcome, so that the feedback-giver is seen as “the hero” at the expense of everyone else. If we are in a position of authority, we must be responsible to those who are looking to us for guidance, and not abuse this privilege by grandstanding at the emotional expense of others, simply because we have the floor. Otherwise, we run the risk of the real reason we are speaking up with unsolicited advice to come crashing down around us. And considering that “real reason” typically has to do with deep-seated insecurities on the part of the unsolicited feedback giver – those insecurities aren’t exactly something we want everyone to be exposed to, when the situation crashes and burns.
The energy of desperation that surrounds the insistence on giving unsolicited feedback is quite intense, and quite destructive. Often, people use this framework of “feedback” as the Trojan horse for left-handed compliments born of bitterness and/or jealousy, which has nothing to do with actual feedback at all. I work in two separate industries, entertainment and the spiritual arts, both of which come with some hefty, and wildly ranging, opinions on how things should be done. As such, one develops very “thick skin” over time. Whether its music, where someone always has an opinion about the talent level of their peers (which is just silly, since music is also a spiritual language, and thus very subjective), or it’s the Psychic arts, where someone always has an opinion on who is legitimate or not (and boy, does that get old – it makes the American Idol judging panel look polite), humans just can’t seem to keep their unsolicited, grand-standy feedback to themselves. Likely thanks in part to the anonymity (and rush of immediate gratification) of the internet, we have somehow come to a place in America where our ability to gauge the emotional needs of a situation, and sociologically act appropriately, has gone flying out the window in lieu of our fifteen minutes of fame. If that instant spotlight can be cast upon us the moment we pull out our soapbox, crawl up on top of it as “the expert”, clear our throat in order to deliver our precious feedback , and “click” the mouse – well, so be it, spiritual ramifications be damned.
One of the most mis-used words today is “feedback”. Whenever I hear someone whip out this word in conversation, I cringe, because it’s usually used by the person who wants to give the feedback – not the person who the feedback is being aimed toward. It never ceases to amaze me how many people feel that their unsolicited opinion is something that others can’t live without. And, the people who are gunning to give the feedback are often times not qualified to do so, yet there they are, uttering the phrase of doom: “Can I give you some feedback?” This person might as well stick their hand in the air and start jumping up and down, saying, “Oh! Me, me, me, me, it’s time to be all about ME!”
I often wonder: How freeing would it be, to actually believe that what I had to say was so outstanding and life changing that I could spit out whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, however I wanted, like some turrets-riddled red carpet commentator? This compulsive need one may have to “weigh in” on a subject, in spite of whether or not any feedback is needed, or is appropriate, or in spite of the fact that a person may simply not be qualified to offer an opinion, is not healthy. It’s a sign that the person suffering from this behavior feels invisible, or powerless, or left out of the process they are giving feedback on, or worse – they actually “believe their own press” to the point where they are convinced their ill-timed input is justified. The later is an indicator that the person’s low ego is out of balance, as it is overly inflated, which again is an indicator that the person lacks self-confidence. (Ego is what replaces confidence.) And, because the “feedback” is coming from a place of desperation on the part of the person offering it, the intention behind the feedback action is not to “assist”, but to “gain the floor” for the feedback giver.
When any one of us lunges forward in the energy of intending to administer information that was not asked for, we are crossing a line of communication and personal agenda that often results in some rocky exchanges; what the feedbacker terms as a “miscommunication”, and what the receiver of the feedback terms as “being hijacked by an A-hole”. The person who suffers from Feedback-itis is the first one to cry “foul” when their opinion is not received well. You hear any number of disclaimers ranging from “I was just being honest” to “if you can’t handle constructive criticism, that’s not my problem.” However, the problem is that the criticism is not “constructive” if it came out of left field, unsolicited. It’s just pithy.
All too often, we decide, as armchair quarterbacks of the world, that what we have to say – our feedback – is made of gold. This is low ego baloney, folks. None of us hold the Rosetta Stone of Truth in someone else’s life. None of us have the “magic words” that will save someone from themselves. And, if we do have a perspective that will dramatically help someone, there is a way to frame up that information so that it does not crush a person, or put them on the defensive. It does not serve the greater good to offer anything to another that causes them to stumble on their walk. That’s not “constructive”. That’s selfish. Especially if they didn’t even ask our take on the situation that we are commenting on.
Always ask yourself: “Is what I am going to say serving my need to be heard, or serving the person’s capacity to help themselves?” It’s amazing how many times the feedbacker really believes they are addressing some big issue at hand, when the person on the receiving end never asked the question that the feedbacker is offering information about.
Our feedback is simply one perspective, one opinion, and when it is solicited, we sometimes have the opportunity to make a difference. However, in general, just because I may have a perspective on something, doesn’t mean that it needs to be stated. In fact, people typically learn the most from experiencing the consequences from their own mistakes. And let us not forget that ever-present Hallmark card insert which is oddly appropriate right now:
“It is better to be kind than right.”
You heard me correctly. When push comes to shove, it is better to be kind, and hold the opinion, than let the opinion fly, truthful or not, if it is going to hurt the person the “feedback” is aimed toward. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule — Parents, bosses, co-workers – but this article isn’t about working relationships, or crisis situations. It’s about the dynamics of what spiritually drives one individual’s need to “over-answer”, or offer unsolicited information, on another person’s journey for no other reason than they feel the other person is in a vulnerable position that potentially places the feedbacker in a place of authority. Blurting out “feedback” when it has not been requested, or when we are not experienced enough in an area on which to comment, can be an abuse of that position of authority that others have graced us with.
If you are legitimately concerned about someone’s path, and find you have something pressing to say to someone — that’s a different issue all together. In that regard, you may sit the individual down and frame your concern with something like, “You know, I’ve had an observation about _______, and my observation comes from a place of compassionate concern for you. I was wondering if I had your permission to offer my observation to you, as food for thought?” If they say no, well – you did your best. In any communication partnership, all we can give is 100%, but remember, our 100% is only good up to our 50% — our half of the communication – that we have to work with. Past that, it’s out of our hands, and up to the infinite planning capabilities of The Universe.
If you are dealing with a “compulsive feedbacker”, it becomes necessary to draw a boundary for that person, since they seem to lack the awareness, or the decorum, or the discipline to reign in their own insecurities and make that appropriate call on their own. I once worked on project years ago with a person who was obsessed with giving feedback, about everything, even if it was not project related. This individual was a rather unhappy person, and was constantly jockeying to be seen as someone important, so they would constantly give negative feedback about everything in sight, in an attempt to appear “discerning”. I had finished up recording a song in my studio that I was compiling for a soundtrack, and emailed it off to this person to listen to, as they had expressed interest in hearing the finished version. It didn’t have to do with the project we were working on. It was intended strictly for enjoyment, a fun break in their day. The person’s immediate reaction was to call me. I asked them if they enjoyed it. They said, “Yes, but I have some feedback on the song.”
Of course they did. Considering I knew this individual’s M.O., I simply responded, “I don’t require any feedback. I just wanted to know if you liked it.”
The person was absolutely stumped. They stuttered out, “Well, yes.”
Across the awkwardly silent phone line, I could feel the capillaries quaking, straining behind that person’s eyeballs, their temples turning to purple under the pressure of having to contain themselves, internally imploding with the fact that “their big wopping feedback opportunity” was denied, and that the floor had not been turned over to them. The fact was, I truly didn’t have an interest in any opinion past whether or not they enjoyed the song, in passing. They weren’t a musician, or a producer, or songwriter, or frankly, anyone whose technical feedback would be important to me, in a music business capacity, and most importantly, the song was sent along to them “for fun”. Plus, I had no interest in participating with their low-ego “feedback” energy signature. So I said, “Great! Glad you enjoyed it — have a good day!”
And then I hung up.
That person never suggested “unsolicited feedback” to me again, about anything. It was rather fabulous.
We must be very careful, and self-disciplined, about our spiritual motivation to offer feedback, or help. Just because we want to say it, doesn’t mean it should be said. Just because we notice something, doesn’t mean it should be pointed out. I run across this conundrum all the time, as a Psychic. I could, literally, walk down the street and give feedback to every single person I pass by, regarding difficulties in their lives. However, by interceding in an unsolicited manner just because I can (“Look at me, mom, look at me!”), I violate many spiritual laws. I could potentially throw things out of balance if those people are meant to grow through struggle past the same difficulties I could offer a potentially circumventive path. Then bingo – we suddenly have the Butterfly Effect on our hands. That never ends well.
It all goes back to Tom Smothers, crooning wryly on Free To Be You and Me – “Some kind of help is the kind of help that helping’s all about / And some kind of help is the kind of help / we all could do without.”
All hail the Hippie Wisdom of 1972. Pass the brownies and common sense.