Monday, July 28, 2014

Criticism is Good

One of the greatest lessons in life I've ever learned is this:
It takes being criticised to realize how critical you are of others.

The next time someone does something that offends you, ask yourself this, "Have I ever done that to someone?" (In some variation of the action)

The next time someone says something that offends you, ask yourself this, "Have I ever said that to someone before?" (In some variation of the remark)

If you answered No to either question, then repeat steps 1 and 2 until you are no longer in denial. The truth is we all say and do thoughtless things now and then. It is part of what makes us human. The interesting part is how we expect others to never upset us. We are quick to judge and slow to forgive. In reality, we probably say something hurtful the same day we are hurt by someone else. Learning to recognize the criticism being done to you is actually largely helpful in learning to recognize how critical you are of other people. Even if the critical thoughts remain unvoiced in your head. They were probably accurately expressed through a facial expression. The point was made before you noticed what you were doing. Welcome to human error.

Once you've reached this point and can proudly say you have admitted to the universal fault of criticism, it is time to learn how to apologize. This is another one of my favorite life lessons. ALWAYS SAY YOU'RE SORRY, even if you think you've done nothing wrong. In this case, you know you did something wrong. It was accidental (I hope)  and now you want to make amends.

You are going to suscept yourself to embarrassment and possible retaliation.
Do it. Say you're sorry.

The beautiful thing is, every day more people are learning these two life lessons. More and more often, you will apologize and be apologized to. The circle of forgiveness is implemented and longer lasting friendships are made. Yes, occasionally you will encounter that one person who has been too deeply hurt by whatever it is you've done and they will refuse your efforts. In addition, you may feel at times that you are said victim. Friendships will be broken. This is okay for now. You are still in the learning stages.

I challenge you to recognize when people are striving to make amends with you, and for you yourself to offer apologies to those you may have upset. Hint* this requires total self-awareness and no pride. The hardest thing to overcome is your belief in whatever you said was justly verbalized. Or, the person deserved whatever critical action you took. While in some cases you will be right, this is neither mature nor beneficial to society.

Remember that list of people Karma missed? Throw it away. You are on someone's list too, somewhere, in someplace.

You can't live in denial of the fact that you say and do stupid things. That bubble is burst. But lucky for you, so does the rest of mankind. Be part of the elite. The crowd that steps up and makes choices to better themselves and their friendships. Humble yourself. Accept the pain of failure. And improve tomorrow.

Want to REALLY be the bigger person?  Warmly receive any apology that comes your way. Remember how hard it was for you to suck it up and say sorry? That person just went through that daunting process, they felt humiliated and guilty, and they CARE. Be a peach. Forgive.

See? Criticism ain't all that bad.

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  1. Yup. One of the biggest bestest lessons I learned on my mission is that we pick out our OWN faults in others. We criticize our own characteristics out loud when we criticize others. Crazy psychology right there.