To help the brain assimilate feedback and learn new ways of processing the information an acronym SARAH is often prescribed. In its most common form SARAH stands for: Shock, Anger, Rejection, Acceptance, Help. However, I’d like to challenge this acronym with some slightly different words.
S – Replace Shock with Surprise. Rarely are we shocked by feedback. Most often we are just surprised that our shadow-side surfaced and people experienced us in ways we hoped all along they wouldn’t. The surprise isn’t good and we like to use the word “shocked” because it seems more about the other person and less about us. Let’s just face it – we aren’t shocked.
R – Replace Rejection with Rationalization. We may reject the feedback in our state of anger but once we move to anxiety it’s not long before we move to rationalization. We find ways in our head to explain why that feedback happened and how some of the circumstances were beyond our control or more about the other person. Our rationalization keeps us from owning it.
A – Acceptance! This word shouldn’t be replaced. Acceptance is such a release. We lay down the burden of angst and rationalization and accept that we are FHBs (fallible human beings) and we aren’t fully developed yet. We need further social encounters and learning experiences to help us grow.
H – Replace Help with Honor. Sometimes we don’t need help with feedback. We just need time before we can accept and honor it. When we honor something we regard it with respect. This means respecting the person who provided the feedback, respecting the situation and most importantly, respecting ourselves and how we’ve allowed the feedback to adjust our behavior and thinking.
Working through SARAH can take time. Some only sleep with SARAH a couple of nights. For others SARAH is a regular bedfellow. It’s such a privilege to help clients process feedback, deal with SARAH and look back from the other side.
What feedback are you hanging on to? Are you sleeping with SARAH?