Sonya Thomas lcsw

Strengthening the Five A’s – Part 3 of 4


I love what David Richo has to say about opening up to feedback from others.  In becoming a psychological adult, we do not rely solely on our own internal narrative or perception of ourselves.  We are also willing to learn something about self by hearing how we affect others or how they experience us.  This is brave territory, inviting others into sharing with us some potentially painful things to hear.  It requires that we be able to tolerate being called to task or shown to be wrong. Here are steps to take in that direction:

  • Create a mantra that says “I commit myself to find some truth in any feedback I receive”.
  • Ask your partner or a trusted other to share something about you that has been upsetting or bothersome to them.
  • As they share their experience of you, internally notice when you are judging what is being said, when you are wanting to control their reactions, wanting to “fix” or coerce the other person into seeing your version of events, casting what they say as “wrong”, feeling attacked by them, etc.  These are all versions of defensiveness.
  • When your partner has finished, share with them the distractions that interrupted your mindful listening, and name them as ego interruptions.
  • Make a commitment going forward to practice watching out for these ego interruptions, and instead, to listen with your heart, where the five A’s reside.

In our next and final post in this series, we will explore in greater detail ways in which you can open yourself up to feedback.  By doing so, you are strengthening your capacity to be attentive to others, to appreciate their point of view, to accept that they experience you in ways that may be painful to acknowledge, to allow them the space to share their experience with you, and if you can do so lovingly, you are providing them with affectionate attunement.  Are you beginning to see just how deep and rich the five A’s truly are?  Until next time, peace.

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