This is a challenging newsletter for me to write because it is something I struggle with. I am guilty of criticizing/judging others. Sometimes I’ll tell a person that I think they’re wrong; and more often, I will just think it.
I don’t want to be a hypocrite. It is very easy for me to tell you not to criticize, but I can’t help but think that I need to heed my own advice. So as you read this newsletter please know that this is something I’m working on too!
After a social or family gathering do you criticize the people who were there? Usually
we unload to our partner or friends our negative thoughts and reactions.
See if you can you relate to this fictional dialog:
“Did you hear what Susan said about Uncle Jim? She is so rude. She has a lot of
nerve telling me how I should parent. Have you seen her kids? They have no boundaries!
And why on earth is she wearing clothes that are two sizes too small?” — blah blah
blah– jab jab jab…
Or, maybe you would actually tell Susan that her outfit doesn’t look good on her.
Maybe she starts talking about her political views and you tell her why her opinion
If you or I engage in this behavior we are criticizing and judging. Maybe all of
the thoughts you’re thinking about Susan are true. But the reason why we have to
stop criticizing others is because all we are accomplishing is hurting the people
we love as well as ourselves.
No One Likes to be Criticized
If we tell Susan that the way she dresses is inappropriate you can bet she will
be hurt, angry, and defensive. Even if we have her best interest at heart no good
can come of this. Do you know why? Because she didn’t ask for our opinion. So she
is not ready or willing to hear this criticism. She needs to arrive at this conclusion
on her own when she is ready. And guess what? She may never be ready. But it is
her journey (life). So we need to let her dress however she likes.
The point to remember here is–
Only when one is ready and wanting to change will they actually change.
Pointing it out to them will not speed the process along. It will probably grind
things to a halt because they will be too hurt and angry to want to change.
My teacher taught me, “Leave people to their own devices.” In other words, let people
be who they are.
But if you’re not supposed to tell Susan what you don’t like about her or complain
about her to your partner or friends, how are you supposed to deal with her uncomfortable
behavior? Here’s four solutions: 1) Limit the time that you spend with her; 2)
Visit her with a group of people so you can always go talk to someone else; 3) Give
yourself good self talk when you are in the moment of wanting to criticize Susan.
Remind yourself to, “let her be”. And of course, the ultimate goal 4) accept her
exactly as she is.
You Take an Emotional Hit Every Time You Criticize Someone.
Richard Carlson, author of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” said, “Criticism, like
swearing, is actually nothing more than a bad habit. It’s something we get used
to doing; we’re familiar with how it feels. It keeps us busy and gives us something
to talk about.”
When you judge someone, take a moment to see how you feel– After the initial high,
you will feel deflated, embarrassed, and almost like you criticized yourself. The
reason is that what you put out into the universe is exactly what you get back.
In other words, when you judge someone else you are also judging yourself.
Usually, we critical people are never satisfied with ourselves. We feel as though
we are never good enough. We can’t ever measure up to the impossible standards we
give ourselves. So it is much easier to point out someone else’s weaknesses then
deal with our own.
The Solution: Catch Yourself Before You Say or Think Something Judgmental.
We need to retrain ourselves to accept people exactly how they are. The way we do
this is to think new and better thoughts. When I am thinking a judgmental thought
about the way Susan dresses I need to replace that thought with something like,
“Don’t be critical, let her be.” This will stop me dead in my tracks and redirect
my energy in a more positive way.
This skill takes patience and time to develop. Let’s face it, from the beginning
of mankind, we have been judging and criticizing our politicians, religions, other
cultures, races, and each other.
The journey of becoming a better person isn’t easy. It is a continual process that
takes our entire lifetime. Spiritually, it is why we are here. As we do this work
on ourselves we will often fall down and scrape our knees. But if we get back up
and keep striving to do and be better than we are successful.
I hope you can apply the above principles, but if I’m being honest, I think I wrote
this article more for me than you!