Dealing with Criticism

By George A. Boyd © 2021

Q: I have someone who says they want to help me, but they continually criticize me and find fault with what I do. What is motivating this criticism?

A: Criticism is the first step on the helping spectrum. These steps of this spectrum are briefly described below:

  1. Destructive criticism – This attempts to undermine someone’s credibility, reputation, and self-confidence. This aims to hurt or demean the other person, even destroy them. It is from experiencing this negative, egoic platform of destructive criticism from parents, siblings, relatives, romantic partners, bullying schoolmates, teachers, bosses, or misguided clergy that originally wounds someone, and leads them to heal themselves. Those who undergo this healing process successfully often feel an urge to help others, who are experiencing similar abuse and trauma, to also heal.
  2. Neutral criticism – This identifies flaws, errors, or omissions, or someone’s attempts to exaggerate, lie, or deceive. Style editors, media fact checkers, or movie reviewers, for example, offer this level of critique. They do not offer suggestions to improve; they just point out the errors.
  3. Constructive criticism – This identifies flaws, error, or omissions as in step two, but offers suggestions at improvement. In group therapy, this sharing of constructive criticism is called feedback. Sports coaches, drama coaches, teachers, and trainers offer feedback to their students to help them improve their performance.
  4. Advisement or consulting – The consultant listens to their client’s concerns, and then offers them potential solutions. This ability to visualize a potential solution is founded upon the consultant’s knowledge, experience, or expertise working on similar problems.
  5. Counselor – A professional counselor listens to someone’s painful emotions and problems, and empathizes with their experience. The counselor allows the client to be heard and known. The counselor assists the client to identify viable options for solutions, explores their pros and cons, and then allows the client to make a congruent choice. The focus of a counselor is on the client’s present time concerns.
  6. Psychotherapist or Hypnotherapist – Like a counselor, a professional psychotherapist listens to someone’s painful emotions and problems, and empathizes with their experience. The psychotherapist will use a variety of evocative methods to help the client explore these painful emotions, work out the underlying issue, and find a way to integrate the insight so the client can live with greater serenity. A hypnotherapist aims to accomplish similar objectives, but does so through working directly with the Subconscious mind. A psychotherapist aims to assist the client to deal with lingering issues from the past.
  7. Life coach or transformational coach – A coach looks to the client’s potential to actualize his or her dreams for a better future. The coach supports and facilitates the client’s movement towards making that vision real—of actually doing, being, and having what he or she desires. A transformative coach is future oriented, and seeks to help the client move past obstacles to reach his or her goals.
  8. Meditation teacher – A meditation teacher trains students to meditate, to gain insight, transformation, and enlightenment. A meditation teacher shows students how to transcend their personality and touch the Eternal.
  9. Thaumaturge – Highly advanced meditation teachers are anointed with the Divine Fire and Light, and can make attunements to purify, heal, comfort, enlighten, and transform their spiritual evolutionary potentials. A Thaumaturge has the ability to work on the structure of mind and consciousness to facilitate spiritual development.
  10. Avatar – This most highly advanced spiritual Initiate is able to work with humanity at the collective level though sending forth tides of Omnific Spiritual Grace and Love, and progressively uplifts all humanity.

When we review these stages on the spectrum, we find:

Level one on this spectrum is the profile of someone fully established in the ego. Someone operating at this level needs to win at all costs, and dominate and control others. If others are injured in obtaining desires, it is not this person’s concerns.

Levels two and three are based on comparison to established criteria. This uses the analytical ability of reason; the standards of conscience; and the problem solving skills of the intellect. In level three, there is the added element of caring about the person receiving the criticism, so they can improve their performance.

Level four is founded on the ability to intuitively grasp the reasons for the problem the client presents, and to frame an elegant solution that solves the problem and allows the client to move to the next level of productivity and prosperity.

Levels five through seven are personal helping modalities. These work to empower the Self to resolve issues and move forward to attain desired goals.

Levels eight through ten are transpersonal helping modalities. They work with the three immortal principles within others—the attentional principle, the spirit, and the Soul—to enable the meditation student to work on the issues of the personality, and to actualize spiritual potentials.

Negative criticism can arise from a variety of motivations. For example:

  • Dissatisfaction with a product or service that the helper offers
  • Jealousy that the helper is successful and gifted
  • Narcissism, needing to be superior or better than the helper
  • Anger and resentment at not succeeding, not being chosen, or not getting the good things in life

When criticism is shared as feedback, the helper can learn to provide a better service or deliver a better product.

We suggest that the element of caring—love and compassion—is at the root of the motivation to help others. The greatest love, which the Avatar and Thaumaturge express, is the deepest level of this caring for others—even beyond personal caring, or unconditional positive regard, as Carl Rogers called it—but it is suffused with the Divine Love that fills and enfolds all life, and drives personal growth and spiritual evolution.

Conspiracy Theories and Fear

By George A. Boyd © 2020

I once attended a workshop, where the group leader gave a talk about fear. He said if you create an acronym for each of the four letters of “fear,” it would spell out:

F – False

E – Evidence

A – Appearing

R – Real

When I reflect upon “False evidence appearing real,” I am struck by how conspiracy theories are founded upon false evidence—or sometimes, on no evidence at all—yet those who believe in conspiracy theories have a tenacious conviction that what they believe in is true beyond a shadow of a doubt.

If I desperately want something to be real, even when it is not—the unconscious mechanisms of projection will kick in and they will shape my perception so other people and events appear the way I want them to be. For example:

I desperately want the candidate I voted for president to win. Even though the votes received were accounted for during each step of the mail-in or in-person voting process; all legal procedures were followed; and the votes were counted and verified—sometimes even more than once—I will falsely perceive a fraudulent process took place. I am in denial that my candidate could lose.

So my belief that fraud occurred is false, yet I continue to embrace this belief, because I don’t want to admit to myself that I will lose the person I want to be “my president.” I’m afraid I will lose him, and all that I believe he did on my behalf will be uprooted and swept away.

I will therefore manufacture false evidence through perceiving innocent events as sinister ones, and these will appear as real to me. For example, in a video, an elections official places a box of mailed ballots on a table: I see this as false evidence that illegal ballots are being dumped to fraudulently ensure the candidate of the other side wins.

The same thing happens when fear colors your perception. For example:

I’m camping in a forest. I see a large male grizzly bear. My fearful imagination kicks in: I’m visualizing the bear is going to run towards me, maul me, kill me, and eat me.

The truth is, the bear doesn’t want to mess with me anymore than I want to mess with him. As long as I don’t threaten his mate or his cubs, or make him feel I am going to attack him, he’s going to leave me alone—as long as I leave him alone.

But fear turns this situation into a vision of danger. There is a risk of course:

  • The bear might have rabies, and will act unpredictably.
  • It might be a bear that is a “man-killer,” who has gotten the taste for human blood. He is hungry… and I’m a man.

But the odds of these events are low. It’s unlikely they will happen.

So I do my thing; the bear does its thing. The bear and I experience “peaceful co-existence,” to borrow a popular phrase of the cold war era. I don’t harm him; he doesn’t harm me.

These same dynamics are operating beneath many of the popular, contemporary conspiracy theories, such as:

  • Q-Anon – Your president is working to save you and your children from a group of blood-drinking, Satanic pedophiles in government and the media
  • Joe Biden, Jr. won the election through fraud
  • The government is trying to take away your guns
  • Secret cabals of [Jews, wealthy industrialists, bankers, members of a secret world government, the Masons… insert your favorite perpetrator of evil here] are plotting to take over the world and control your life
  • Other ethnic or racial groups are coming by the millions to take away your food and your jobs… and ultimately replace you
  • The world is flat
  • The United States faked the moon landing
  • The government planned and conducted the events of 9/11, so they could get a hold of Iraq’s oil
  • Vaccines will implant tiny tracking chips in you
  • The government is actively persecuting members of your religion
  • Space aliens are consulting with top secret cells within the government to transfer alien technology; they have been given permission to abduct people and perform experiments on them
  • A demagogue, cult leader, or dictator is your savior—despite of the evil deeds and atrocities that he or she condones, directs, or personally commits]

Might I ask those of you who believe in conspiracy theories like this to answer some questions? Here are four questions that will help you get to the core of the fear that locks this conspiracy theory in place in your mind, which acts like a filter that colors the appearance of anything you perceive.

  • What about this person or group—or about an event, or a potential outcome if what is described in the conspiracy theory comes true—makes you feel afraid?
  • What do you catastrophize might happen?
  • What would you perceive if none of what you believe about this is true—if this is just false evidence appearing real?
  • What would it be like for you to live your life without believing this? How would you act differently than you do now?

I think we would get along much better if we stopped believing in conspiracy theories… if we stopped demonizing each other… if we tried to work together on our common goals…

We share many things in common; we have common needs:

  • We need to eat and have clean water to drink
  • We need a safe and decent place to live
  • We need to have an education to acquire the skills and the knowledge to contribute to our community
  • We need a legal means to provide for our livelihood
  • We need to be treated with dignity and respect
  • We need the opportunity to pursue our worthy goals and dreams
  • We need to be able to embrace and practice the faith or philosophy of our choice, provided that we don’t impose it on others against their will

Perhaps if we could stop embracing conspiracy theories that distort out perception of the world and other people, we could support one another in achieving these needs. You might ask, “How do I provide solutions that get results—and that don’t cause harm?” If we each can do this, we can contribute to a better world for all of us.

Making Improvements in Your Life

By George A. Boyd ©2021

Q: I feel stuck in my life and I don’t feel like I’m making progress. How do I get unstuck?

A: You need to give your attention to activities that shift your health, relationships, work and finances; and that empower you. Most people waste their time doing things that do not move them forward, so they feel that they are spinning their wheels. Let’s look at some of these things you can do that can create movement:

Health – Regular exercise; regulation of your diet; doing deep, full breathing; and doing hatha yoga for stress release and flexibility will help improve your health

Relationships – Enhancing your communication; and when necessary, obtaining psychotherapy or couples counseling to clear the issues you are bringing into the relationship can help clear interpersonal conflicts you are having

Career and Finances – Learning to set goals and to achieve them; establishing habits that upgrade your productivity and effectiveness; developing the abilities to be assertive, to negotiate, and persuade others underpin greater success in your career—and as you are more successful in your career, this is often reflected in increased income

Education – Gaining greater proficiency in study skills; reflecting on ideas to distill their meaning; and actively using knowledge you acquire facilitates you becoming a better student

Values and character – Examining your values through introspection; practicing loving-kindness meditation; active listening and empathic reflection; identifying values you want to implement in your life will assist you in refining your character

Wisdom and insight – Doing Reflective Meditation, Vipassana, and dialoging with your Soul can support your acquisition of wisdom and insight.

Consciousness and Spirituality – Awakening your attentional principle, spirit, and Soul; discovering the many dimensions of the mind through contemplation; and transforming your personal and spiritual potentials through mediation can augment this area of your life

The things that enable you to make these shifts in these and other important areas of your life are:

  1. Visualize what you want to achieve
  2. Believe these changes are possible
  3. Learn how you can make these changes
  4. Set a goal to achieve this and break this goal down into a series of achievable steps
  5. Choose to begin enacting this goal and begin working on the first step
  6. Continue this process until you are able to achieve what you visualize

As you shift your focus to constructive activity instead of time-wasting activity, you will find that your life will begin to change for the better. This will encourage you to continue this positive movement.

Those of you who wish to improve in the areas of wisdom and insight, and consciousness and spirituality will benefit from learning to meditate. We teach many of these insightive and transformation skills you need to begin generating movement in these areas in our intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation or the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

Those of you who wish support in making these life changes will find benefit from our Life Coaching Program, which trains you step-by-step into how to get back into control in your life and implement the changes you want.

Ways of Implementing Solutions

By George A. Boyd © 2020

You may intervene in the life and behavior of another person for a variety of reasons. These include:

  • You are responsible for their care—for example, your children, dependent adults, or your elderly parents
  • The person is obnoxious and annoys you. You want them to change their behavior to make your own life less miserable and more serene.
  • You want to make a person aware of the impact of their words and behavior on you—they may be unaware of how their behavior and speech affects you.
  • You are in a professional helping position and you have the responsibility to provide treatment for your patients or clients.
  • You love someone and you want him or her to change to stop hurting or sabotaging him or her self.
  • You see the potential in someone and you want to assist him or her to actualize it.
  • You have experienced breakthrough, transformation, or enlightenment, and you want to share it with others.

They are several approaches through which people attempt to change other people. These methods—and their results on the other person—are described below.

Method

Result

(1) Criticize, but don’t offer a solution. Make the person wrong.

Their feelings are hurt; they feel demoralization and depression

(2) Offer a solution that the person can’t understand or utilize.

They experience confusion; they make no movement towards resolving the deficiency or problem.

(3) Force or coerce the person to implement the solution.

They may do what you want temporarily, but revert back to their former pattern when you are not pressuring them.

(4) Teach, counsel, or coach the person to be able to implement the solution.

They learn how to implement the solution and can begin to do it on their own.

(5) Assist the other person to implement the solution through volunteering your time. Act as a supportive partner to ensure the solution is implemented.

They feel supported; the task seems less overwhelming and challenging with your help.

(6) Use the solution yourself and experience transformation. Offer to share this solution with others, so they too can transform through a coaching program.

They feel empowered to make breakthroughs in their lives; they may also experience transformation through the solution you offer.

(7) Disseminate the solution widely through video, podcast, a published book, and media interviews.

Those who have this problem learn that a solution may exist. They feel hope.

Let’s look at the methods through which you might induce others to change; or ways others might attempt to facilitate you changing:

  • Many people may criticize you, but this does not produce behavioral change. In many cases, it may strengthen your stubbornness and resistance; this may lead you to begin criticizing and arguing with them.
  • Other people offer “helpful suggestions” that you cannot implement. Either the instructions are confusing and/or they advise you to do something you do not have the ability, knowledge, or resources to adopt.

  • In situations where there is an unequal power dynamic, one person may force or coerce you to do what they want. While you might accede to his or her demands while you are under his or her direct supervision, you will often feel resentful and will not continue to do the behavior when he or she is not threatening or coercing you.
  • If you don’t know how to do something, but are willing to learn, the other person can show you how to do it. They can impart knowledge, skills, or give you access to resources to enable you to put the solution into practice.
  • If you have far more work than you can handle, they can assist you through taking on part of the task and help you work on the steps of the solution.
  • If you apply a strategy or work the steps in a program and this enables you overcome a life challenge or to achieve your dreams, you may be motivated to share this with others. Those who likewise undergo breakthrough and transformation may wish to share their system with you.
  • If you are getting results with your strategy, program, or system, you may wish to disseminate this more widely and touch the lives of many others people who are struggling with this problem.

We suggest that methods four through seven are more effective than the first three. If you are finding that you cannot facilitate change in other person, you might wish to modify the way you approach changing them.

Those of you who wish to implement change in your life dealing with core issues of finding your authentic purpose and life direction, working out issues of having grown up in a dysfunctional family, recovering from addiction, or dealing with the aftermath of having been involved in a religious or political cult, you may wish to take advantage of the support available to you in our targeted coaching programs.

The Seven Orders of a Conspiracy Theory


The Seven Orders of a Conspiracy Theory

By George A. Boyd © 2020

Q: How do conspiracy theories start? How are they different than a realistic view of the world?

A: There appear to be seven orders of a conspiracy theory. The layers that make up these seven orders appear to reify the belief systems of both conspiracy and reality based frames; conspiracy theory deviate from sound logic and facts, or interpret them through a distorted filter. These layers are as follows:

Order

Content

False view
(conspiracy theory)

Correct view
(reality based frame)

1

Supporting Data

Selects data to confirm false premises

Selects data to confirm verifiable and correct data

2

Emotionalized Idea

Creates negative fascination with an idea, which motivates action based on fear, guilt, hatred, or prejudice

Creates sober realization, activates actions based on thoughtful judgment and clear thinking

3

Coherent synthesis

Premises and data construct a false narrative, and puts together a conspiracy theory as an explanation of the selected facts

Premises and data construct an accurate narrative, and a consensual worldview based on verified facts and validated inferences

4

Worldview or mindset

Those who believe the conspiracy theory hold that they access to hidden or secret knowledge that makes them aware of sinister activities that only they are privy to; they ignore data that conflicts with their core beliefs that make up the conspiracy theory

Those who adopt an accurate narrative do not perceive any sinister activities and can find no evidence for them; they rely upon consensually validated knowledge to inform their world view, which changes as new data becomes available

5

Identity

Those who believe in the conspiracy theory identify as a member of a secret group that is dedicated to exposing and defeating perceived evil actors; they may separate themselves from groups or individuals they perceive as evil; more radical groups among believers may attack these individuals or groups that are perceived as evil

Identifies as a member of a diverse society, with people who have many different ways of perceiving the world and who hold different values; the world is not perceived as evil

6

Psychological matrix

As the conspiracy theory becomes integrated into character, it becomes a paranoid system expressed as behavior (paranoid personality disorder), belief (delusional disorder), and ultimately contaminates core identity, giving rise to paranoid schizophrenia

Integrated personality functioning; there is coherence between behavior, belief, and core identity (integrity)

7

Karmic matrix

Accretions of karmic impressions of ignorance, negative passions, and delusion; feelings of upset and rage mark the emergence of these impressions

Accretion of impressions of understanding, integrated knowledge, and wisdom

Q: How could someone realize they are ensnared with a conspiracy theory, and extricate themselves?

A: It is a matter of recognizing the errors in belief and reasoning that lock the conspiracy theory in place. It is hard to be objective when the conspiracy theory mindset has taken over your rational faculties. Usually, someone outside the conspiracy theory group has to point out to you the logical inconsistencies and implications of continuing to hold the conspiracy theory.

If you are capable of objective self-analysis, you may be able to recognize the signs of layers four and five—whether the group you belong to contends it is privy to secret knowledge or if you identify with a secret group whose mission is to combat perceived evil, for which there is no objective evidence. That is a clue you might have gotten yourself involved in a conspiracy theory.

Many people in the USA are under the thrall of a variety of conspiracy theories; we suspect that if they could emerge from these delusional world views, much of the animosity for those who hold different political views would dissipate, and we would see enhanced cooperation between the members of both parties.

Q: Are members of right wing and left wing extremist groups under the sway of conspiracy theories?

A: You could use this schema as a framework to analyze their beliefs and mindsets. We suspect that a central conspiracy might indeed play a role in the hateful and paranoid behavior, beliefs, and identification seen in these groups.

We invite you to reflect on these layers, and see if you can recognize any of these patterns operating in you, or in other people. Awareness of these patterns is the first step to eradicating them; it will take some courage and discipline to willingly uproot them and admit that you were wrong.

Given the right circumstances, almost anyone could succumb to these subtle delusional beliefs and perspectives. If you know what to look for, you can often stop yourself from getting involved before you travel down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.