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How to Speak Your Mind Without Making Someone Else Wrong

Friends Pulled Apart

“Would you rather be right or free?” ~Byron Katie

Do you have the freedom to say what you really feel? Do you share your true thoughts and ideas, or do you struggle to avoid hurting, disappointing, or angering others?

It can be easier to try to meet others’ expectations and avoid conflict. We may even believe we are making someone happy by not speaking our truth. What’s the cost? Slowly giving up fragments of who we genuinely are: our authentic self.

There was a time when right and wrong worked for me. I had stability, harmony, and a practical path for pursuing a career in accounting, marrying a wonderful man, and raising three beautiful children.

I didn’t realize I was following expectations of what I thought should make me happy based on what I learned and believed to be true. I was living on the surface, stuck in the paradigm of right and wrong. Though I was happy, something was missing.

Until I ventured within and followed my real passion (psychology, writing, and seeking spiritual truth), I couldn’t see that I’d been living in the framework of family norms and social conditioning, not knowing how to listen to myself.

I grew up shy, fearful of having the wrong answer, one that didn’t fit into what others told me I should be, do, know, and think.  

The social mask forms the moment we’re born and we hear our first words. We learn to please, meet expectations, and avoid sharing our feelings, which can turn into a lifelong struggle to be good enough, know enough, and have enough.

We long to be seen and heard for who we are unconditionally, but we find ourselves on the path of conditional love, seeking the approval and appreciation from others that we eventually discover must come from within.

When I began sharing my ideas, it went against expectations of “right and wrong,” and I faced criticism and judgment. I was finally following my own values and the things that excited me.

I’d eagerly share with my family, not realizing how far “out of the box” I’d gone, and was met with silence, or criticism behind my back.  

As I stepped into my beliefs, I encountered defensiveness and attempts to prove I was wrong. Conflict for the first time! Both of us were living in our ego’s fear, needing to be right in a space of  “how could you think that?”

Then a twenty-year friendship ended abruptly when I wasn’t following her “right” way of business ethics.

As university friends, we had both become coaches, leaving behind our corporate careers, and suddenly I was a competitor instead of a friend.

She felt the need to control the way I did business. Sadly, it turned out to be more important than our friendship.

Soon after, I faced blaming, false assumptions, and horrific judgments from a friend of over a decade. I no longer followed her “right way,” which culminated in a six-page letter about why I was wrong, and who I should be—otherwise this friendship wasn’t working for her!

I was shocked, and felt enormous hurt, disbelief, and some things I didn’t expect: anger, hatred, and resentment.

I hadn’t felt this intensity of negative emotions toward anyone in my entire life. I couldn’t forgive because I’d become attached to my way needing to “be right” for her. 

At the same time I’d developed a strong inner trust, validated by the most fulfilling life experiences in all areas of my life. Suddenly, I could see that who was right and wrong didn’t matter.

I was judging her for judging me!

I was also trying to correct her in an effort to fix her, convincing her of my beliefs, needing to control, or trying to change her to make me happy.

It often happens with those close to us who are now hurting us with their “disregard, disobedience, or disrespect” for not following our right way.

I now held the energy of criticism (finding fault, complaining), and judgment (blaming, resentment, punishment). While I trusted what was right for my well-being, I needed to let go of it being right for someone else.

Doing this does not mean we accept or absolve responsibility for all manner of words and behavior. It just means that we stop blaming and judging someone else and consider that they’re doing their best from their own state of consciousness.

The constructive or destructive choices they make form their learning and experiences, and can only be 100% their responsibility.

We may have the best of intentions with our criticism and judgment, and we might find ways to punish, yell, impose, demand, and justify them as the “right way,” but love does not condemn.

When we’re coming from a place of love, we share, teach, and role model in a space of curiosity, compassion, and understanding.

How do you communicate authentically from a judgment-free space so others will stay open to your thoughts? It may help to use these phrases:

  • I notice that…
  • Are you willing to…
  • I’m curious about…
  • Here’s how I’m feeling, what are you feeling?
  • Are you open to hearing my thoughts and feelings around this?
  • Here’s what I desire for our relationship…what do you want?
  • Are you willing to listen to my point of view, even if it may not be the same as yours?
  • I’m feeling disappointed or not okay with….because what’s important to me is…
  • I think/believe that…what do you think/believe?
  • What exactly did you mean by…
  • I just want to understand where you’re coming from, can you say more about…?

You may want to avoid certain phrases that come across as criticism and judgment, as they may cause defensiveness and affect other’s ability to be authentic with you:

  • You should
  • You never….
  • You always…
  • Why can’t you get that….
  • What’s wrong with you?
  • Why or how can you not see that…
  • I’m so disappointed that you…
  • How could you…?
  • I can’t believe you…
  • You are so…

I’ve learned that, at times, I cannot be authentic because it will bring out someone’s ego (blaming, complaining, condemning), even if I share from a genuine place of love.

We have no control over where someone chooses to live on the spectrum of fear versus love, and must discern whether there’s space to share—and what’s better left unsaid, so we don’t step on other people’s spiritual path.

Sometimes we may simply need to wish others well on their journey, creating a new space for both sides to reflect on what truly matters. This is also a loving choice.

And when you love without judgment, you won’t need to be right because you’ll be free.

“Out beyond ideas of right 
and wrong there is a field.
I will meet you there.” ~Rumi

Photo by Elvert Barnes

About Carolyn Hidalgo

Carolyn Hidalgo, CPCC, ACC is a Self-Relationship Coach, and Author of the upcoming book Live the Love You Deserve: Imagine a Judgment-Free World. She would LOVE your comments to help make the biggest positive impact for readers. Visit carolynhidalgo.com for a FREE copy of her Relationship Report to minimize conflicts, achieve forgiveness, and deepen love.

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  • Alexey Sunly

    Sorry about your friend, Carolyn! Sounds like you’ve learned a lot from that situation though. And this piece will definitely be very helpful to others. I will even forward it to some people I know who could use your insight. Hopefully, your friend will come around soon enough and see the life in the same light as you have 🙂

  • Jasmine

    Absolutely loved this article! This was very helpful for my journey, thanks Carolyn!

  • Great article, this really hits home with me. I have many family members that just want me to listen to them when they have a problem. My mind always jumps to the “how can we fix it” mentality, which they often take as me judging and criticizing them. Learning to change how I communicate to them in these situations is definitely key.

  • Sue

    thanks 🙂 this is very helpful

  • GrayC

    wow. enlightening.

  • growthguided

    Help me I need to say something, but I’m filled with guilt five minutes after I speak! Anyone else know this feeling? The ego taking responsibility for everyones feelings. It is not doubt that we struggle with voicing our thoughts when we think they will be more punishing than liberating!
    Great post!

  • Jon

    I wanted to read this article but I stopped reading once I read the line “Slowly giving up fragments of who we genuinely are: our authentic self.” I’m sorry but trying to love your own authentic self is a direct contradiction to Buddhism. The Buddha taught that there is no authentic self and to look for it is one of the causes of suffering. To try to love your own authentic self is a major self delusion. Just speaking my mind. 🙂

  • Kerstin

    You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. – Shakyamuni Buddha

  • DontHangYourHatOnBuddha

    Wow Jon, pretty narrow viewpoint. If the author can teach me something that relieves my suffering, why would that be wrong? I do not think that you have to be a Buddhist to relieve suffering. This is why we have suffering in the world, because of statements like this. Is your philosophy greater than mine? If so, you are the self deluded one.

  • Jon

    To be clear I never said that there is anything “wrong” with anything, it’s just not for me. I don’t indulge in self delusion intentionally. It’s fine if other do, what other do is of no concern to me. I never said one must be a Buddhist to relive suffering I said that following the instructions in the article will cause MORE suffering than already present. By looking for and loving your imaginary self you will temporary relieve some mental discomfort but in the long run it will return ten fold. You say my comment is one of the reasons we have suffering in the world. I said your article is one of the reasons we have suffering. So whose right and who’s wrong? You ask me if I think my philosophy is greater than yours, the answer is no. But now I should ask you the same question since you did exactly what you accused me of doing. Do you see the delusion in this whole situation? Look at what this article is about and then tell me again that speaking my mind doesn’t make my philosophy greater than yours. Such a lack of awareness.

  • Jon

    “A student, filled with emotion and crying, implored, “Why is there so much suffering?”

    Suzuki Roshi replied, “No reason.”

    🙂

  • Jon
  • ictoan

    “Out beyond ideas of right 
and wrong there is a field.
I will meet you there.” ~Rumi

  • Natalia McPhedran

    I too, lost a twenty year friendship because of a conflict of egos. I’ve forgiven her and I have forgiven my part in the conflict as well. I’ve never felt so free. I am sure that she has as well because she’s tried to reach out to me. But as you eloquently said, “Sometimes we may simply need to wish others well on their journey, creating a new space for both sides to reflect on what truly matters. This is also a loving choice.” Thank you. xo

  • christina

    great post! I had a great friend with a great falling out but after 3 years of not talking we picked up the phone like nothing ever happened. we had let each other go on our separate paths at first angry and disappointed but time and space healed our wounds, allowed us to see the other’s side, and for once forgive ourselves and each other, a great lesson for me.

    I do believe many people struggle with fitting the mold despite the fact their heart and mind are telling them to go in another direction. There is a great fear associated with stepping outside of the norm but it is only when you free yourself of expectations and “shoulds” do you begin to really feel alive!

    Thank you so much for this post!!

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    Thanks so much for sharing Alexey! Yes ‘learned a lot’ is an understatement 🙂 I used to want to help everyone especially friends, but realized the hard way this was not always possible. I now understand it is not my journey to take, and not my lessons to learn. All I can do is wish every happiness to others, be understanding, and compassionate. Allow people to choose their own path, as I follow mine that may go in a different direction.

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    Thx Jasmine – glad it was helpful!

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    Appreciate you letting me it was helpful Sue!

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    Awesome!

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    Yeah guilt – it’s a tough one! I see guilt as “Self-judgment” or making yourself wrong. Condemning yourself is exhausting, but so many struggle with this one – not being good enough…thanks for writing!

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    When I first read your comment Jon I was both surprised, and confused. How does trying to find or love your authentic self go against Buddha’s teaching? Since I am not Buddhist, but have a deep respect for his teachings I got curious, and googled “Buddha Authentic Self,” and the first hit was http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-love-your-authentic-self/ Thanks Lori!!

    What you call ‘self delusion’ I find interesting. You choose
    to not be open (refuse to read something) attached to your interpretation “being right” when the same words by Buddha are being read differently by others.
    Then you say “following the instructions in the article will cause MORE suffering than already present.”

    How can you be certain this is true unless you are attached
    to ‘being right’, which is what my article teaches – how to recognize your ego is present in the first place : ) Are you open and curious? No. Are you attached to ‘being right’? Yes because others are wrong (we are choosing to be self-delusional and causing more suffering) in your view.

    Our words are extremely limited, and wide open to
    interpretation in their ability to convey our personal experiences. If you follow your ideals, and you do not suffer, wonderful. It works for you, and I am truly happy for you! But to somehow believe another way is contradictory, and creates suffering based on your interpretation when so many experience otherwise? The Paradox. Both are ‘right’, and where you live from: ego (fear), or authentic self (love) affects your lens.

    In Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”, he writes about “The
    illusory sense of self (self delusion) – what Albert Einstein referred to as ‘an optical illusion of consciousness.’ I realized what Buddha must be referring to is the ego or the false self though I doubt he used those terms! Our ego becomes our sense of “I” from the reflection of everything in the outside world – our roles, occupation, status, belongings, social programming even our relationships where we seek love, and cannot find it because happiness comes from within: a faith of a deeper authentic part
    of who we already are: born and deserving of love.

    You write “By looking for and loving your imaginary self you
    will temporary relieve some mental discomfort but in the long run it will return ten fold.” I agree with this statement knowing the “imaginary self” is your “ego” or false self not your authentic self. But you can only recognize it from within your own state of consciousness and the suffering
    only you know and feel. As a coach, I witness as others discover how to stop the suffering they are unknowingly creating from their ego. They finally feel free, and experience what I have. There is no going backwards on this inner journey of awakening, though there are bumps along the way!

    The secret to unnecessary suffering is recognizing, and transcending our own ego. It is not easy, and it is desperately what the world needs of all of us to create a happier, healthier more peaceful world. Thank you for sharing your opinion – it has helped me see my own more clearly. As we see each other’s ‘way of seeing’, it does allow us each to grow : )

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    Yay!!! I totally understand that feeling of freedom that comes with forgiveness, and awareness of our egos conflicting. Thanks for sharing Natalia!

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    Thx Christina – so happy you gave yourself the space to go separate ways, and could come back to heal. Often we avoid the struggle, instead of face it head on to take a clear look at it – our own fears. Like how you described it as ‘really feeling alive’ – couldn’t agree more : ) Fulfillment rocks!

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    Family members are the toughest : ) You must be a good listener if you are the one they go to! I had to go through the energy switch from ‘fixing’ to ‘sharing/teaching’ without being attached from a very curious perspective which is even harder within the culture of our families. Wishing you well on this challenging situation. Thx for sharing!

  • Alexey Sunly

    The beauty is that when you stand up for yourself and your own version of happiness to people like your friend, Carolyn, you are in fact helping them 🙂 The best way to lead anyone is by modelling the behaviour you would like them to embrace or to explore for themselves. As you’ve already discovered, trying to understand others with compassion and resolving to pursue joy in your life leads to most the authentic human experience we could ever imagine. By being as authentic as humanly possible you are really helping your friends and your family, much more so than if you were try to “teach” them anything previously 🙂

  • Jon

    Hi Carolyn,

    I’m not surprised to hear that you were confused to read my comments. At the end of the second paragraph of your article is a link to the one Lori wrote that you had to google to find. That link is where I stopped reading. I didn’t make it far enough into your article to have much of an opinion about it (so don’t get your feelings too hurt) but I did get far enough into the ‘authentic self’ article to know I was in the wrong place. If the premise of your article can be directly correlated to finding and loving an imaginary self that does not exist then the article is not for me. I find it ironic that me speaking my mind about an article trying to teach people how to speak their minds can be offensive to the very person who wrote the article. Am I not allowed to have an opinion? You basically said that me having an opinion means that I think everyone else is wrong. That is a logical fallacy and is simply false for I could turn that very statement on you and let you answer for it. Does your opinion mean that your beliefs are better than mine? I mean “how can you be certain this is true unless you are attached to ‘being right’? Those are your words, they can be used both ways.

    You are telling me that I am not open or curious and that I’m attached to being right. Because your view is obviously better than mine right? I mean if you didn’t think your view was better than mine then why would you even respond to my comment and tell me that I’m attached to being right? Do you see the hypocrisy here?

    You said “and where you live from: ego (fear), or authentic self (love) affects your lens.” That’s a very nice idea. It’s cute and fluffy but it’s another delusion. Now you are trying to define the self as love. So you think that people should learn to love their authentic love? It makes zero sense. It sounds nice. It means nothing. There is no such thing as an ego, that’s an idea someone gave you. If there is such thing as an ego show it to me. Where is it? It’s a myth.

    You also said “In Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”, he writes about “The
illusory sense of self (self delusion) – what Albert Einstein referred to as ‘an optical illusion of consciousness.’ I realized what Buddha must be referring to is the ego or the false self though I doubt he used t hose terms!”

    Yes, obviously I am already aware of that as it totally validates my original comment. There is no self. Looking for self is a waste of time because it’s not there. People who live from the “ego” believe there is a self and believe there is a higher and lower self. Thank you for proving my original point correct.

    You wrote, “As a coach, I witness as others discover how to stop the suffering they are unknowingly creating from their ego. They finally feel free, and experience what I have. There is no going backwards on this inner journey of awa kening,”

    You are confused. The “I” or self is the ego. The “I” or self cannot get rid of itself. The thought cannot get rid of the thought. There is NO “I” or self to get rid of the ego and in reality there is no ego, it’s all an illusion. Looking for your true self in order to get rid of the ego is a direct contradiction of logic and is self refuting. In order for there to be an “I” to find the authentic self implies that there are two things, one to seek and one to be sought. This is apparent separation and is also illusory. These are not theories, this is direct observation that anyone can put to the test right now. Find the ego. You won’t find it. Find the true self. You won’t find it. You have to create false beliefs in order to even attempt to find these things.

    Second, I don’t like that you claim to be free while others are not. You say you are awakened. I call your bluff. Your article is riddled with contradiction and you make claims that can’t be backed up. In order to say that people need to do certain things in order to free themselves so they can experience what you have, according to your own logic, can only mean that you are attached to being right or that your view is the right view and the other view is wrong.

    Thanks for responding to my comments and please don’t take my opinions too personal. You seem like a really kind and positive person, I wish you well.

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    I am not offended by your comments Jon – I simply don’t agree with your assumptions about the ‘authentic self’ and the ego. That is ok – we all cannot agree on everything. You are certainly entitled to your own opinion -we all are, and I did not intend to come across that way. If “loving your authentic self” creates more suffering for you, and there’s no such thing as “the ego” – this is all ‘self delusion” in your mind – as I said before – everyone can only follow what works for them. It just would not work for me – my opinion : ) I also wish you well, and appreciate your comments.

  • Jon

    Well Carolyn I wish you luck on your journey to awakening to your imaginary self. If ego worship works for you then keep at it. As for me I think I’d rather take the advice of thousands of years of proven teachers over someone who calls themselves a Self-Relationship coach. The term self-relationship in itself is a form of ego worship. Might work for you but it won’t work for those who are concerned with finishing the ego once and for all and being done with the whole thing. Of course if people did that you’d have no fan base and nothing to write articles about. How ironic.

  • James

    This article was well overdue for me; I needed clarification on this subject and you delivered it spectacularly!

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    I believe in a self that is authentic (love) not the ego (fear). So we are in agreement that I also am teaching how to transcend your ego. You don’t believe in either, and that is ok. This is your opinion. Perhaps just notice the energy you are feeling, and ask yourself – WHO is choosing it? One thing we all have is free will. One path takes you to the light (love), the other to the dark (fear & suffering). Only you know what you are feeling within. Wishing you well on your journey.

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    Absolutely : ) This is what I have discovered. “What you resist persists (trying to help/educate/share when there is no space to receive).What you befriend (with compassion, understanding, curiosity) you will transcend.” ~Robin Sharma. What opened up when I learned to walk away without judgment was an influx of authentic connections as I let go of the resistance in me : ) It’s AMAZING!!!

  • Alexey Sunly

    Haha, that’s wonderful, Carolyn. I am very happy to hear that 🙂

  • Jon

    I wrote a lenghty response to your last comment but upon reading it again I realized that me and you are talking about two totally different things. You are describing some cute little fantasy worlds where free will and ego actually exist. You ask me to find the “WHO” that is making choices. lol. There is no who, that’s the entire point of spiritual awakening is to realize there is no YOU and there is no EGO, it was all an illusion. What you are talking about is the popular, fantasy based form of fake spirituality that exists online and in seminars but is not supported by any of the ancient traditions that discovered these concepts. Everything you write directly contradicts Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and many other philosophies responsible for these ideas originally. What you teach is some watered down, hippie, new age form of spirituality to boosts the ego more than anything else. That’s all fine and dandy and I wish you luck, but as long as you go around telling people you are awakened or liberated I am going to be there to call your bluff. I’ve had enough with these fake, wanna-be guru people on the internet out to make a name for themselves by spreading myths and fantasies. Have a nice day.

  • Jon

    Here educate yourself Carolyn:

    Explains Buddhism concept of No Self: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatta

    Explains the illusion of Free Will according to Buddhism: http://jkllr.net/2009/01/19/buddhism-and-free-will/

    Explains how there is no Doer and no experiencer: http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/advaita-vedanta/439177-advaita-novice-who-doer-experiencer-2-a.html

  • Hi Jon and all,

    For anyone who doesn’t know me, my name is Lori and I run this site. I’ve been watching this conversation unfold and I’ve felt an urge to jump in. I resisted because I don’t mean to step on anyone’s toes or stick my nose where it doesn’t belong, but I feel a compulsion to share my thoughts after reading the latest comments in this thread.

    As the founder of this site, I greatly admire, respect, and appreciate everyone who contributes. It takes immense strength and generosity to share your personal experiences to help others. As a fellow writer, I know the vulnerable feeling of sharing where you’ve been and what you’ve learned as a result. I also know it’s scary to share your beliefs because no matter what you believe, someone somewhere else will believe something different and they will want to point out the shortcomings in your own perspective, oftentimes harshly and judgmentally.

    So the first thing I would like to say is thank you Carolyn for being brave enough to share yourself. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for you!

    Now my other thoughts…

    I wrote the post that Carolyn linked to about loving your authentic self. In my definition, the “self” is fluid, so loving one’s authentic self does not mean loving something that is unchanging, but rather loving the entity that thinks your thoughts and takes your actions, for all its been and all it will be.

    I subscribe to many Buddhist philosophies, hence the name of this site, but there are some ideas that resonate with me more strongly than others. For me, the most important thing is that we’re all able to connect and share our understandings of the world so that we can create a peaceful place for us all to exist together–despite that various differences that could otherwise separate us.

    The non-attachment that means the most to me is the non-attachment that allows us to have different perspectives without attacking someone’s character or intentions. The idea of no-self resonates with me most strongly when it compels us to consider which self is feeling the emotions that cause us to speak unkindly.

    We can sit around insulting each other, calling each other names for seeing things differently, or we can decide that the most important thing is that we treat each other with respect. I would like this to be a place where we all do the latter. I am by no means suggesting that everyone must agree with every writer. I fully support free speech. I would just prefer it if we could disagree with compassion, without judgment, and without attacking anyone personally.

    My intention is not to “defend” Carolyn, but rather to make it clear as the person who created and maintains this space that it’s not about creating better Buddhists. It’s about taking tiny pieces of Buddhism (and sometimes wisdom from other philosophies) to help us all be better people. Some posts may not align perfectly with everything you’ll find on sites that explain Buddhism. I hope that doesn’t offend anyone, but more importantly, I hope that anyone who is offended doesn’t see this as a justification to be offensive.

    Jon, this may seem like an attack on you. That’s not my intention. In pointing out my disappointment in the tone of your most recent comment, I’m not intending to be judgmental. I would love to learn more about where you’re coming from and generally get to know you better. If you’d like to email me, you can reach me at email(AT)tinybuddha(DOT)com.

    Lori

  • Raj

    Jon, I see your point of view but feel that it also has a narrow perspective. A desire to be right is also a reflection of ego, is it not? Understanding oneself and existing in society requires us all to compromise. The wiser will know how to develop any relationship into something that reflects the universal inner truths of love and compassion, regardless of the emotional ego based conflicts that may arise along the way. Only when you acknowledge the ego or any dissenting thought, can you move past it. The way you respond to it also carries weight.

    To perpetuate and project an emotion like anger means the there is a lack of perspective and is certainly not coming from detachment. Any emotional reaction should assume respect for the other and forgive their weakness or narrowmindedness…this perpetuates universal love and en-light-enment (inner light) that will raise your vibrational frequency. All of our thoughts are limited by our own perspective, unless they are awakened by a greater awareness, where emotions have no place. Carolyn’s method seems to allow those that want to avoid conflict to frame unpleasant conversations in a more respectful and productive way.

  • Jon

    Hey Lori! Thanks so much for your reply. You shouldn’t hesitate to jump into this conversation and speak your mind. Even if you disagree or think that I’m wrong you should still speak your mind without worrying about what others are going to think of your opinion. I’m not the kind of person who bites his tongue in fear that others cannot control their own emotions. Some people think that my comments are harsh, and that’s perfect. I agree that my comments are harsh as well. Reality is harsh, raw, real, uncompromising. I don’t have to agree with someone in order to have respect or love for them. You said that you prefer people to “disagree with compassion” which I agree with and in my view that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m calling out the ideas in the article and stating that following the instructions in the article will cause more suffering and I prefer that people not suffer, that’s compassion. Fluffy, cute, glittery words aren’t necessarily compassionate just because they sound nice and polite. I’m not trying to disturb the peace by stating my opinion no matter how harsh the opinion is. I suggest you visit one of the Zen Buddhist monasteries where they carry out ritual debates on the nature of reality, they can be very harsh debates with lots of emotion flying around. These debates are encouraged by the Zen masters for many reasons and one of those reasons is to identify falsehoods and recognize them as so in order to elevate suffering cause by delusion. Nobody in these debates is allowed to quit because they got their feelings hurt or because someone was being too harsh for their taste. This is the kind of background I come from so forgive me for being so loud with my opinions. Let it be known that I was not offended by the original article and just because I have an opinion doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t either. That should be more obvious that it apparently is judging from the feedback I’ve received for my comments.

    You said that “this may seem like an attack on you. That’s not my intention.” But you really don’t need to say that. I know it’s not an attack on me and even if it were it’s perfect. If you were to attack me it wouldn’t affect me at all. The same cannot be said for others here that seem to be upset by my opinions. Maybe I should dress up my comments in pink glittery wording so that people don’t lose control of their own emotions. After-all it’s the words being said and not the message being convoyed that matters right? <-sarcasm 🙂

    You said that you are not trying to be judgmental but that's not true. You obviously didn't like my comments and thought they were too harsh or you wouldn't have replied at all. It's okay to be judgmental of my comments, it's perfectly alright. Don't feel bad for disagreeing with me because I won't take it personally.
    Again, thank you for your reply. I really enjoy your site and even though I disagree with some of the articles I still consider them valuable for what they are.

  • Jon

    Hi Raj. Thanks for your response. It’s very comforting for you to say my view is narrow. You say that a desire to be right is a reflection of the ego and I agree. Let me ask you this, if a so-called enlightened teacher tells you it’s okay to steal from people would you accept that or consider it wrong to steal from people? If you think it’s wrong then obviously your ego thinks it’s opinion is right. Having an opinion about what is right or wrong in a certain situation isn’t a bad thing. So I think the article promotes self delusion and suffering and you think my view is narrow which makes you right and me wrong. Can you not see the hypocrisy in this? You interpreted my comments to be angry comments but I did not feel anger when I wrote them. Just because you interpret it as angry doesn’t mean its true. We all view the world according to our personal interpretation of it. What one person sees as angry another person sees as passionate. To each his own. If Carolyn’s article works for you then more power to you. As for me, her article is in direct contradiction of the philosophies it borrows from and can be demonstrated to cause more suffering. Looks like we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  • Thanks Jon. I meant to convey that, although I didn’t appreciate some of your comments, I’m not judging you as a person–though I guess I couldn’t, since there is no “you” 😉

    I think perhaps we approach things a little differently. I didn’t debate speaking my mind because I was worried about what others would think of my opinion. It was more that I was deliberating on whether my thoughts were “true, necessary, and kind.” Ultimately, I decided my comment was true and necessary–and I tried to be kind!

    I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the site on the whole, and I appreciate your commitment to disagree with compassion–which, to clarify, means not directly insulting someone by calling them names, like a “fake wannabe guru” just because you disagree with their opinion. That was really the part that made me feel a need to write something. It’s plain and simply not nice, and there’s just no need to do it.

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    Thx for sharing James – so happy it gave you clarity : )

  • Jon

    Lori. I know you were being sarcastic when you said “I’m not judging you as a person–though I guess I couldn’t, since there is no “you” but you are actually correct. If you could see how you are right by saying that then you’d understand my perspective a little better. The ego thinks there is an individual existing. What the Buddha or Ramana Maharshi or almost any other sage taught was that there is no “I” and because you think there is and are on the quest to find it you will suffer. When you believe there is a self then you believe there are other selves (other people) and this create separation. Separation creates conflict, not words or ideas or personalities or opinions. When people get upset by others comments it’s because they’ve attached their identity to a certain expectation or a certain belief that people should be a certain way. When people inevitably let down that expectation the other person takes it personally because they’ve attached their identities to an unrealistic expectation. I would like to say that I’m preaching to the choir here seeing as how this site is called Tiny Buddha but obviously these concepts have missed certain people here and thus they are offended by my opinion as if my opinion means anything.

    As for my “fake guru” comment I can see how you would be offended by it. I find it offending when people claim to be something they aren’t and are leading people astray into more suffering. You say that isn’t kind well I don’t think that manipulating people is kind so we are in a tight spot here. Should I sit back and watch people take advice that will cause more suffering and say nothing? Is that kind? Or should I speak my mind, state my opinion and allow people to take or reject it on their own? Why is it wrong that I have this opinion? These are hypothetical questions, you don’t actually have to answer.

  • James

    “To be clear I never said that there is anything “wrong” with anything, it’s just not for me. I don’t indulge in self delusion intentionally.”

    Can you, or what you termed your “mind” in an earlier post, notice the two contradiction in these two sentences?

    If you have time I recommend reading this link.

    http://buddhismnow.com/2011/12/25/metta/

    The important teaching I got from it is that the now, as with everything, can be defined through the three marks of existence.

    The mind is merely a constant (but nevertheless) impermanent stream of thoughts and/or mental formations. Acknowledging this, the moment “you” or your “mind” finishes reading a response, it is the “ego” who is stuck in the past and thus not being mindful of the now. Practicing mindfulness is equivocal to living in the now, being aware of all five aggregates and how they, as with everything else, are interdependent. Following this, non attachment to personal subjective beliefs and/or opinions (which are merely an impermanent manifestation of a mental formation) becomes effortless; realising the infinite is in the finite of every instant (Zen Proverb).
    Have a safe journey and keep practicing your skilful means to the best!

  • Deep Souldiver

    Thank you…your words touch the heart space…at a time when I need them to be there. As you responded to Kathlyn…family members are the toughest…we ourselves can also be the toughest. It is time for me to expand and grow. Thank you.

  • bb

    Thank you Carolyn & Lori for this site, you offer a lot of good information. I was reading especially the proactive communication suggestions, and wonder if those sentences can be still perceived as a polite sort of “attack” or judgment by our friend(s) – or a sort of subtle manipulation (for instance we would perhaps wish the persons changes his attitude etc):

    I’m feeling disappointed or not okay with….because what’s important to me is…
    What exactly did you mean by…

  • Carolyn Hidalgo

    HI bb – yes how you respond to any words may still be perceived as an attack or judgment. We all strive to match our words & how we communicate (tone, emotions etc.) with our intention. When we criticize or judge someone and our intention of “I am right and you are wrong” will have us communicate in way that will land as attacking or judgment or manipulation. In the end there is a trust or belief in one’s intention. Saying “I’m feeling disappointed..”may be authentically how we are feeling, but someone may also say this to ‘manipulate’ if that is their intention. The goal is to express your truth in a way that doesn’t land as ‘attacking’ when someone else doesn’t agree with you to open up the conversation.

    Our intention may be ‘positive’ for someone i.e. we want to ‘help them’, however the other person may not see your words as ‘helping’ if you speak to them in a way that feels like they are being ‘attacked’ or ‘manipulated.
    No matter how you say anything, we cannot control how anyone else responds so someone’s ego may perceive what you are saying as ‘attacking’ regardless. Usually this is a case where someone has low self-esteem. This is not judging someone – this is noticing how someone perceives the world as ‘I’m the victim”, and no matter what you say, how good your intentions are, their ego won’t trust you. This is not their fault – it’s simply their state of consciousness and/or social upbringing.

    Notice that if someone has low self-esteem and is told ‘I think you have low self-esteem’ – they will take it personally : ) If you don’t have low self esteem, and someone you trust tells you this is what they think about you – you will question it (because you trust their opinion), but you also know in yourself whether or not it is true, and won’t take it personally.

    This is where we all have to ‘meet someone where they are’ (not step on their spiritual path) to keep harmony and it may be best not to share your truth. Instead you can ask questions from their perspective, eg. I notice you are feeling_______, what’s going on?

  • Heather Barton

    Awesome, AWESOME article. Thank you for your insight and the confirmation that I am on the right spiritual path for me in remaining in my own power while allowing others to remain in theirs 🙂

  • Heather Barton

    Also, I think “Jon”, below, needs to learn the Buddhist philosophy of letting go. He seems really attached to his opinion.

  • Cheryl

    If your speech is not useful and beneficial, Buddhism teaches it is better to keep silent. Just an observation.

  • Cheryl

    Personally, I see the ego as nothing more than a mental holding
    place for an individual’s opinions and judgments that are formed by their own perceptions
    and experiences. This may not align with a specific philosophy (or maybe it
    does?), but I find that I grow the most spiritually by encompassing more than
    one philosophy into my life’s journey. I have found that you can learn as much
    from a “traditional” philosophy (Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, etc.)
    as you can from people who share their experiences just as Carolyn (and others
    in the comments section) have done on this site. Everyone’s teachings and experiences have some value if you know how to find it. One thing I have found to be true – the most spiritually developed individuals do not have to thump their chests and boast of their
    knowledge; nor do they find the need to “correct” those who are at a different place in their spiritual journey. Their spiritual development is most observed in the way they act and
    speak to others. If your speech is not useful and beneficial, Buddhism teaches it is better to keep silent (just an observation).

  • Glenn Davey

    All I’m hearing is that you lost your shit, turned weird, divorced your husband, alienated a bunch of friends and family and are now justifying yourself through a bunch of pseudo spiritual “articles” on the internet.

    *golf clap*

  • zak

    Hi carolyn, Thank you for sharing this beautiful, well written article and i thank lori for choosing to post and for clearing up the concept of your site as a whole. As a christian i felt a bit guilty being so drawn to this article assuming tiny buddha meant all things related buddha when actually this is a platform driven to helping people understand others opinions as well as opinions of our own. Im glad to see how eloquent you handled the guy jon’s comments and blatant “attacks” because it allowed me to realize that once you try and seek clarity in one’s opinion or point of view and someone continues to seek to disagree then you politely wish them well on their journey. More importantly your article spoke to my core and i will adopt a couple of your quotes and apply them to my daily life. Particularly “Love does not condemn” also the phrases of understanding and compassion versus phrases of attack which i think jon probably used every single one :). Once again Carol thank you.

  • MarkOutisStock

    I guess the real question is at what point to I need to take responsibility for not protecting someone else’s ego when they came to me for honesty.

    I’m reminded of a poem by Ozawa Roan, a samurai from the 18th century: How can I give up speaking what is in my mind? Even inanimate grasses and trees utter sounds to the wind.

  • james lewis

    In England (and probably in many other countries) you will often hear people say ‘It’s NOT what you say, it’s HOW you say it’ and I think that sums up this article quite well 🙂

  • Carrie

    Clash of the Titans. That is the perfect description of the battle of egos between a dear friend and I. I try to be authentic, but sadly, with this friend it is like what Carolyn says, “I’ve learned that, at times, I cannot be authentic because it will bring out someone’s ego (blaming, complaining, condemning), even if I share from a genuine place of love.”. That is hard for me….I long for the friend who can look me in the eyes and say, “yep, me too”, and walk equally with me as we do life together.

  • HIMANI SINGLA

    Such a realistic article.. I’ve been facing a similar situation.. I was the same kind who used to do things which were correct for others and now when i’ve stood up to do things which are ethically correct i’ve been blamed criticized.. But I’m happy that by doing this i’ve been able to face myself in the mirror.. And now il apply the formula of letting go so as to keep myself less disturbed due to others opinion. Thanks for giving me an insight.