Feedback is one of the greatest tools available to us for personal growth. Whether it be personal feedback to ourselves in the form of journaling and reflections, or external feedback from people and sources we trust, feedback can lead to improvement. It sheds light on our personal blind spots and areas we don’t realize we have, and can help with our development.

Consider the definition of feedback itself. According to Merriam Webster, feedback is “helpful information or criticism that is given to someone to say what can be done to improve a performance or product.” That’s exactly what it is!

The tricky thing with feedback is that many times, we tend to have certain made up biases and judgements about what we receive and listen to from others. We tend to label the feedback we receive to be either “positive” or “negative.” Many believe that “positive” feedback is only the stuff we want to hear- what affirms our performance or current position, strokes our precious ego, and supports the status quo. Many also believe that the “negative” feedback is a response that seems hurtful, offensive, surprising, and usually not what we had intended to hear.

Both types can be helpful because they hold opportunity for growth and improvement within them. Yet, we often shy away from, or don’t want to hear what we might perceive as “negative” feedback. We only want to hear and listen to what’s “positive.”

This is one of the biggest mistakes I believe we can make.

When we turn away from hearing and receiving honest and well-intended feedback, we are ultimately doing more harm than good in the long run. We confuse feedback that isn’t “sugarcoated” or “fluffy” as being “mean” or “hurtful.” The truth is that this honest feedback can actually be the most helpful thing we can ever receive. If we can consciously move away from the “positive” and “negative” labels of feedback and see it objectively just as it is, we may then see that all feedback is helpful.

In the my yoga community, feedback is an integral part of our culture. After each class taught by a teacher, If there is another teacher present, the individual who taught the class will receive feedback directly afterwards to review their teaching and help the teacher grow. The greatest and most profound growth I’ve made in my own life has come from receiving and implementing honest feedback from trusted peers, mentors, and coaches. I can honestly say that I have developed into the person and teacher I am today because of the feedback I have received and implemented from those I trust.

I want you to remember that you can use and ask for feedback in the myriad roles you play in your life on a daily basis. It could be how you’re doing as a friend, employee, teacher, boss, sibling, child, spouse, or organization. Chances are, there is always feedback available to help you improve in some way.

With the right attitude and intention, there’s no telling how much you can grow, if you have the courage to ask for and receive feedback with a spirit of openness. I challenge you to change the way you look at and perceive feedback, and ask you to actively seek feedback today and continuously in the various areas of your life- even when it might not be so easy to do. It may not always make you feel good initially, but I do believe that it will be worth it.

What feedback has helped you improve yourself?
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