Yesterday I received a review of my book, “Worlds of Power, Worlds of Light,” from a contest I had entered. I had already been notified that I did not win the contest, but the judges would be sending their reviews to the contestants. When the email arrived in my inbox, I hesitated. I was in the middle of printing a copy of the manuscript for my next book, “Peace with Pain,” for a potential advance reader. I decided the hesitation was because I did not want to split my attention, and therefore I would wait until I was done babysitting the printer.
As pages spit out of my printer, I noticed a sense of apprehension growing. Something inside me became very nervous about what the judge had said about my book. Once my printing was complete, I took a deep breath and clicked on the email.
At that very moment, Yahoo! mail crashed. A message appeared saying they were experiencing technical difficulties and to try back later. While I doubt my mind is powerful enough to take out an email server, if my intense trepidation yesterday around noon caused you any inconvenience, I apologize. However, the timing was very interesting.
Since I could not plow through and simply open the email, I had the opportunity to watch my mind and the remnants of mental patterns that were playing out. It’s amazing how a mental pattern can be created by even one unpleasant experience.
After the first release of “Worlds of Power, Worlds of Light” 15 years ago, I sent the book into a contest to be judged. Instead of putting it in the Inspiration category where it belongs, someone decided since it is a first-person book they would put it in the Memoir category. Needless to say, since my book is not a memoir, it was severely criticized as being a very poorly written memoir. That deflating experienced imprinted itself on my subconscious. Consciously, I had completely forgotten about it until the email about the anniversary edition of my book arrived 15 years later.
How does that happen? I noticed that although to be judged in an improper category is unpleasant, the real aversion is actually a very common one: no one really likes to be criticized, and we especially don’t like it when the criticism is unjust. Yet at the same time, we love external validation and praise. In the seeking for our attraction, we often meet our aversion, and this always leads to misery.
As I let go of the remnants of this particular mental pattern, I found another option: to not take any type of judgment, internal or external, all that seriously. If the criticism helps me to improve my craft, then I can use it, but for only that purpose. The praise can be enjoyed for a moment, as a signpost that shows I’m heading in the right direction, but then it’s time to let it go and keep on moving forward.
An hour later I was able to open my email, and I had the opportunity to enjoy praise for a moment. Then I moved forward, putting the review to work by adding it to my book’s Amazon page in a condensed form, as they allow only 600 characters for editorial reviews. (More reviews can be found if you click the “Look Inside” option on Amazon.) I’m sure by now you’re wondering what the email said, so I have posted the complete review below for you to enjoy:
This is a very interesting chronicle/journal of Sundell’s journey into the Rama sect of Buddhism and how she learned to use the light (enlightenment) in a positive manner to enrich her existence. Written in a down-to-earth voice, the author takes us from her easily recognized “normal” life and her first early feelings of curiosity about enlightenment and what it means to meeting with the master, Rama, who leads a group of students through the stages of meditation and learning how to channel the energy and light that they come into contact with. Sundell’s mother notices the first changes in the author, but these changes grow more intense. I liked Sundell’s honesty in showing doubts, slip-ups, and even misusage of the energy that she and the other students learn to notice, tap into and channel. She makes it very clear that energy can be misused. Even readers who might not turn to Buddhism for their own personal enlightenment are bound to learn a lot from Sundell’s account. Many other spiritual disciplines recognize positive and negative energy, and Sundell’s story demonstrates that a person’s life can be hurt by the negative energy coming from another. It is rare for a writer who wishes to explain his or her personal spiritual path to write with such clarity, but that is what Sundell has achieved: distinct clarity that will make readers intrigued and possibly desirous of taking their interest a step further. The author provides websites by which the latter can happen.
-Judge, 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
I would love to hear your views in the comments!
What strategies have you found to get out of the attraction/aversion trap of judgment?
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