The Secret of Change

Chapter IV – Cooperation (Accept Opinions And Criticism)

The Usefulness Of Having A Support Group For Change

It is said that “no man is an island.” This saying is true because man is by nature a social being, and as a social being, whether a person likes it or not, one has to relate to other people in his surroundings. In the same way, if one is to
undertake a radical change which has great implications on one’s present life, one needs the support of other people to ease out the risks concomitant with change. The Alcoholics who joined the AA are able to bring in substantial
changes in their lives because they got the support of people who want to kick off the bad habit of alcoholism. It is indeed necessary and good to know that your struggle to change is not an isolated case. There are other people who also want to change and their encouragement can play a pivotal role in your successful transformation. Moreover, if your significant other is there to assist you in your desire to transform yourself, you will be inspired to overcome any hurdle along the way towards a meaningful change. The presence and the enthusiasm of people around you can rub off on you, giving you the extra kick to achieve change.

Many character disorders are sometimes overcome because of the support of other people. In our society, many people are undergoing psychotherapy because they got no one to converse with, to share their dreams, and even tell their desire to change. Our society has developed a gnawing individualism which is becoming a major societal disease. People are searching for inspiration and they try to find it among the fictional heroes of movies. Yet, if we have a support group which could back us up and accepts us whether we fail or succeed, we become confident and secured to take the risk of change. So if you are really intent on making a radical change in your life, you need to solicit a great deal of support from people who really care for you.

The prospect of change elicits fear within us. The thought of giving up something and taking risks to get out of our comfort zone is tantamount to giving up some of our present controls over the situation. We usually have our own routines and have established our own ways of dealing with things, and if we opt for change, we deviate from these established routines and risk losing control of the situation.

Even at work, many would rather not risk taking the challenge of promotion, and would rather stay in their present position because they have already mastered the “ins” and “outs” of their present position. The thought of taking a promotion and losing control can be so debilitating to them that they would rather shun away from promotions in favor of maintaining the control they have in the status quo. Yet, if there are people who encourage us and allay our fears, we would surely take the risk and be willing to abandon the status quo and venture into the unknown.

Cooperation As A Catalyst For Change

When people cooperate with each other in a group to achieve something, something great is achieved. It is a fact that individual person can achieve something substantial on their own. But when people join together for a common goal subsuming their individual needs to a common undertaking, the result is multiplied a hundred times. When people cooperate, they act like a single gigantic organism, capable of achieving a substantial change in the environment and in the society they live in. When they act together, they not only bring a definitive change and result, they also change the character of each person who becomes part of the cooperative group. In a way, cooperation is mutually beneficial to every party who cooperates because it influences and changes every individual in the group.

We cooperate when we work in a group to accomplish a task. We cooperate when we have a particular task which is geared towards the achievement of a greater objective. We also cooperate when we share our ideas to the benefit of the group. Thus, cooperation can bring in more substantial results than individuals who are working in isolation from each other and we can say that there is far more power in a group than in an individual.

The Advantage Of Having A Common Goal And A Common Enemy

People are pulled together if they have a common goal. If in a group, the goals are unclear, people will only squabble with each other and tug on each other shirts without achieving something substantial. Yet, if a group has a common goal or maybe a common enemy, all the efforts of the group are directed not inwardly, but outwardly towards that common goal or against that common enemy uniting the once disoriented group into a single entity. In the same way, if you have a goal which you would like to achieve, you should find like-minded people who can join you on your bandwagon. Likewise, there is always a need for a person to belong. If you want to change yourself, but you work in isolation, you would often find it ridiculously arduous to achieve the necessary change you want to manifest in reality. But if there is another person or a group who believe in the cause for which you are fighting, you will find enough support to continue with your undertaking.

Your morale will be high because you know you are not working in isolation. You increase your strength exponentially if you can find two or more people who believe in you and your cause. Alexander the Great would never have had the courage and the determination to conquer the known world then had he not had those faithful childhood friends who had believed in his cause. The moment he squabbled with his friends, his vision began to blur and it spelled the doom of all his undertaking. When he killed his trusted friend in a fit of anger, the people who stood behind him in the thick-and-thin of his adventures started to plan against him. What I am saying is that if you have a group of people who believe in you, you can overcome a lot of snags and hurdles along the way. The good thing about cooperation is that you get to win together with the people you cooperate with. It is not a case of “me” getting the number one spot, but it is a case of “we” getting better together every day.

Resolving Conflicts

The hurdles to cooperation are conflicts, and you would really experience conflicts if you want to create a group with a common goal. Moreover, if you want to change, you will run into conflict with those people who do not want you to change. To clear this hurdle, you got to communicate your thoughts and feelings with these people. There are times when instead of communicating, we get entangled with no-communication at all. In no-communication, we may be speaking with other people but we may be failing to communicate the essential information we would like to relay. Likewise, we may be involved in a very unclear communication if we could not verbalize what we want and if we fail to listen. The misunderstanding may then ensue and conflict may arise because of miscommunication. In cases of miscommunication and misunderstanding, the solution may be very simple. If you don’t understand something, try to clarify. If they don’t understand something, try to clarify yourself to clear the communication barriers which may balloon into a major conflict along the way if not clarified.

Listening To Criticisms

Often those who are not used to criticisms will try to defend themselves if they are criticized even if the criticisms are outright correct. Most of us have that tendency to accept praise and compliments and shun away from hearing criticisms. Yet often, it is those criticisms which prod us to hone our skills, and there are countless instances where people have failed because they had failed to take heed of and act on those criticisms. If we want to improve ourselves, we need to look into the criticisms we receive and try to assess ourselves and our performances in the light of those criticisms. Athletes are perfect examples of those people who thrive in criticisms. A boxer, for example, has to be reminded by his coaching staffs every round to point out the defects in his approach against his opponent. If he fails to make the adjustment, more often he loses the fight.

The coaching staff of basketball teams has to assess what is happening inside the court and how their team is performing in the game. Then they usually call a timeout to remind their teams of their weak points and strengths so that they could make the proper adjustment.

So the first thing you should do when you receive criticism is to control your first reaction of lashing back at your critics. Count one to ten or take a deep breath to calm yourself down. Likewise, you should always find the positive points of criticism. Honest feedback can assist you on how to improve yourself.

Remember that this feedback can really be an opportunity for you to hone your skills and talents. It may be a gateway to the improvement of your very own self. Moreover, you should always thank your critics for they have the time to help you improve yourself. If there is one thing which may encourage you to change radically, it is a good criticism coming from someone you respect so well.

Always Seek The Opinion Of Wise Men In Important Matters

In the ancient times, the opinions of the wise men have highly sought after. People of the ancient world sometimes had to traverse long distances just to listen to the advice and opinions of a wise man. This is because the wisdom of the wise men was more important than gold or any silver for some ancient people. In our modern world, many among us fail to follow the examples of those people who seek the advice of wise people. Older people have more experiences in life that we have. In some way, they may have a deeper outlook on the intricacies of life than those who are young. They may have more knowledge about life than we do because they had made more mistakes than ours, and for this reason, we can listen and heed their counsels.

The patterns of life are highly determined. The stages from childhood to adulthood are almost identical even if there are technological advancements around us. The crises we experience are almost identical with the crises experienced by the older generation. Since they have already experienced the crises which we are about to experience, their insights may be invaluable to us.

Yet many among us want to learn the hard way, and thus fail to heed the advice of older people. So we suffer along the way. However, if you want to avoid some mistakes, you can readily ask the opinion of those who may have experienced the same dilemma as we do. I have seen plenty of friends who have learned it the hard way in life. Their common characteristic is lack of trust in the opinions of other people. They want to experience first the consequences of problems before they could understand the import and the implication of their actions. It is like trying to live life by trial-and-error. There are sure ways and better ways to avoid some consequences. We don’t need to learn everything in the manner in which the cavemen had learned everything—that is learning by experience. We need to learn from the stock knowledge which had been handed over to us from the previous generations. We can do this by listening to the opinion of others and taking some pieces of advice from those who are more knowledgeable and more experienced than us.

Take Criticisms Positively

Many among us find it difficult to handle criticisms because we feel that criticisms are given out to bring us down, so we take them negatively. Because we are not totally objective all the time, we often get emotional and we get hurt. Likewise, our personalities are not compartmentalized; we are not beings whose intellectual faculty is separated from the physical or emotional aspects. We approached everything with our whole being. Our works are products of our whole being and not just our body. Thus, if someone criticizes our work, we feel hurt because we poured ourselves into it. Yet, it takes discipline to control our emotions every time we are criticized. It takes maturity to accept criticisms gracefully. Moreover, we need the ability to accept criticism maturely and gracefully in order for us to develop and grow.

Positive change is only possible if we are open to criticisms, and openness to criticisms implies a bit of dying to oneself. Remember, we can only come to the grip of our real self if we come face-to-face with other people in close cooperation or relationship. Thus, if we want to have an objective view of ourselves and a thriving cooperative relationship with other people, we need to listen to the honest opinions and criticisms of those people who cooperate with us, because they can provide us with a different perspective distinct from our very own point-of-view.

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Chapter III – Communications (Let Others Know You Want To Change) (Prev Lesson)
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