Criticise at your peril

Don't ever run out in the road again!

Don’t ever run out in the road again!

This little post is a reblog in a way of someone else’s words. Or perhaps it’s just a very long quote from a Master!

Yesterday I watched a Barbara Sher video on YouTube where she says to be very careful of giving criticism. “One piece of criticism is not overcome by 20 forms of praise. First of all you might not know what you are talking about and secondly even if later down the track it turns out that you are right, they won’t remember what you said. They will remember the hurt.” Wise words indeed from one of my favourite people (more on her later, but I am spending over two months pay soon to go and meet her!!).

The bit that spoke loudest is that ‘maybe you won’t know what you are talking about’. There have certainly been times that I have gotten the wrong end of the stick and have maybe put in my two cents worth to an organisation and then been politely responded to in way which showed I had it all wrong. Ouch! but no biggie – I can do failure and sorry really well. A heartfelt apology and we are all on our way. I don’t hang on to my failures too long – too scatty to remember them, luckily. And of course sometimes ‘you have to learn to accept the apology you never got’. I like that one too. Got a few of those under my belt, sadly.

What about the times when you don’t criticise or give feedback, don’t speak up for yourself? Is it because you know you are speaking to someone unable to hear you or because you fear the venom that will pour out of you once you let loose? Nobody wants venom inside. That leads to cancer, right? So should you speak?

And again, if that venom is somehow misdirected, you will only end up feeling bad, especially if you hurt the other person and have any kind of compassion in you. Time to consider what you say before you open up. In some cases I choose not to ‘stand up for’ myself, no matter how much I am invited to. And in others I speak where clearly it is not wanted. But that is tomorrow’s post….

How to know the difference?

This quote I just found on Pinterest sure helps!

He has the right to criticize, who has a heart to help.

 

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Building that Loving Relationship

Everything we explore and experience is an expression of our relationship with our primordial nature – Damon Gautama

http://becomingfullyhuman.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/it-can-be-helpful/

I take my inspiration from two of my favourite bloggers today Yaz Rooney and Damon Gautama who were both the vehicle for bringing me something I need at the moment. Thank you both. When I am down I can just go and read all the amazing posts from the bloggers I have discovered. I could just gobble you all up, I am so grateful.

Both messages are about love and relationship which, now I think about it is the number one, numero uno, the only thing worth having on this planet! Yep, back to sweeping statements. I think my Mojo must be returning! Confident to allow my ignorance to shine forth once again and not care how it’s received.

Damon points out that we have only one relationship and that’s with our primordial nature. To me that means with ourselves though I am sure he is also referring to the fact that we are all one in a sea of Quantum Energy. You could call it a relationship with the Universe or God if you like to use that word (which I am not comfortable using myself personally).

This relationship with yourself is based on faith and trust in yourself. Do you have trust that you will keep to your own (high?) standards? That you are being the ‘best’ you can be and won’t let yourself down, or judge that you are letting yourself down (same thing perhaps)? Do you have inner peace because you have faith and trust that as your life unfolds it will bring you what you want? How about what you need? If I open my eyes and look clearly once more I realise it certainly is bringing me what I need, if I have courage to see it. It takes courage to be happy. Courage to go ‘Oops I was wrong but it’s OK, I can learn from this’. I forgive myself. This week I wasn’t forgiving myself for being grumpy and unsettled. Damon responded to my comment about how I was feeling, that there is a big energy going through the world this week and I believe it because I want to believe that it’s not just me feeling this way. I have looked around for examples of other people feeling grumpy to solidify my opinion and gratify my ego. Easily done and pointless really. Seek and ye shall find. But of course it’s fine if I am the only one in the whole world feeling this way. I am allowed to. Anywhere in the world just now is someone overjoyed at having a baby or getting married or falling in love. And others are perhaps in mourning for something – a job, money, lover, identity which they thought they needed to go on being happy. Of course their journey is to process the loss or the gain, and hopefully come to the conclusion that it’s all OK. Everything is fine as it is. They are fine as they are. Outcomes are neither good nor bad.

Anyway I digress. Back to success and the success of loving who you are, what you do and how you do it. My ego loves that I can bounce back. My ego loves my job in customer service, problem solving and helping people. I get a kick out of feeling I have gone above and beyond to help them, even if they don’t see it. And I love how I do it – with enthusiasm, understanding attitude and tone of voice on the phone, putting my brain into gear to not only help them solve the actual problem but make them feel better. I defend the company I love if possible and apologise for our failings when all too necessary. It’s about connection, as is any job really. I am at an entry level job, probably unappreciated by society yet I am finally feeling like a success now that I see it the right way! I always thought I needed more but I just needed to see it right and I knew it. This quote clarifies it for me more and I am grateful.

So if our one relationship and possibly our happiness rests on how we judge our relationship with ourselves what can we do to improve it? For me it’s applauding my own successes in whatever form it takes (not buying the fattening honey roasted Macadamias in the supermarket yesterday) and forgiving my failures (buying the half price Toblerone and a bottle of Frangelico this week in hopes of making some amazing new cocktail I have the recipe for somewhere, using Christmas as an excuse).

Applaud and Forgive. It’s quite the opposite of the Beat Myself Up and Downplay Anything Good that I did, said, wore, felt.

I am back on track! Praise be to ….?????  

Swimming against the stream

The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it – Woodrow Wilson

Where to start? Hopefully a short or at least concise post today. Let’s take it apart. A man or woman (or you or me presumably), who is swimming – a metaphor for getting in there and actively trying to move somewhere by personal effort, comes up against the currents – the obstacles in life – of the stream and therefore discovers the strength of what obstacles are involved in the activity he has chosen to undertake. So to simplify enormously he is saying that you can’t know what you are up against until you get started on a project. I believe though that he is probably saying Jump In anyway so that you will increase your knowledge. Perhaps I am too optimistic. He might be saying Don’t Go There – you will soon find out what you are up against!

I notice the use of the metaphor of swimming which suggests personal effort and using all of yourself, physically and mentally, to try to get somewhere. A swimmer could choose to swim in a pool, stream, a lake or the sea and all will provide a very different experience. Woodrow has chosen a stream, like the stream of life, the passing of time. The strength of a stream of course is the usually one way in the direction of the current toward the sea (eddies not withstanding), as opposed to a swimming pool which usually has no current and the sea with very varying currents and fearsome strength at different times. I forgot to mention that in this quote the man is swimming against the stream as opposed to with it, which suggests that you only learn the strength of your opposition/obstacles when you go up against it. How often have we thought or heard that you wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of someone who is being very nice to you? Is Mr Wilson simply telling us that you don’t know exactly what you are up against until you cross them?

You only have to ask any divorced person how that works. The person who brought you the most joy and love at one stage, no matter how amicable you try to make it, now becomes a stranger, a terrible foe, seemingly capable of all manner of indecencies. If you jump into divorce you must both realise that the very process is like a stream. It carries you along in a particular a direction and has its own strength which you may try to swim against at times, no matter how much you want to get downstream to the final destination.

Anyway this process doesn’t only apply to divorce of course. Any time you jump into a project and start going with it, there are bound to be things to navigate along the way that were expected and unexpected. But at least you can face them as they arise, make decisions, find strategies and ways around things. You may learn that your foe is formidable and it is wise to hop out again. Or you may find that the universe magically arranges things for you that help you along a lot faster. At least you are fighting against real, not imagined foes and this is what I think Woodrow is getting at. You will know the strength of the actual obstacles.

How often do we not jump in and swim because fear, insecurity and self-esteem issues have prevented us from even trying? We do not know what we are really up against. It may be that we are not up against anything but our own fear of success and the change to our lives if, God forbid, we actually achieve it. We may fear ourselves, thinking we could not handle setbacks and rejection should our project not go to plan. But how will we know until we try? Jumping in will soon tell you.

I leave with some advice from John Williams in his book ‘Screw Work Let’s Play’ who says that once your project is ‘exposed to the air’, it will change. And as long as you are working with the changes to discover what works, you have a good chance of succeeding. But you would never know until you expose it. Jump in and start swimming. What have you got to lose or gain that you fear? You might find yourself floating joyously downstream instead, rushing toward your dreams.

Self criticism

All criticism is self-criticism – Harry Hooton

This quote is short and to the point. The joy in it for me is that it is something you wouldn’t necessarily instantly understand or even agree with. In fact I think most of us would discount this or not even want to ‘go there’ and spend time thinking about it, especially if we are a little short on self-esteem and apt to self-criticism. Do we all self-criticise? Do we all have a touch of low self esteem because of it? I believe we can have both really high and low self esteem at the same time. That is because you can consider yourself really good at something and terrible at another. I wonder if you can add up all your mini self-esteem scores and come out with a total overall picture? You can’t always tell what’s going on inside another person of course and whether they are self-critical. The overtalkative, seemingly massive confident person could go home and beat themselves up mentally for talking too much and decide to be really quiet at the next gathering. The quiet wallflower in the corner who seems too unconfident to talk to anyone or dance, might actually be watching and judging everyone, thinking they all look stupid.

In regards to criticism, I have an example off the top of my head. I had a new best friend when I was 11, who had recently arrived at our school and whom I did not know that well. When we got together, she would get me talking (not difficult to do of course) and I would go away feeling bad that she hadn’t spoken or been able to share much; that I had selfishly monopolised the conversation. I was self-critical. But then I turned it around to criticise her instead, maybe to ease my uncomfortable feelings. At some point I worked out that she wanted me to do all the talking and I even felt that she was manipulating me like a puppet. I worked it out by making attempts to ask her about stuff and get her talking but I noticed that she sneakily brought it back to me each time. One day I decided that she much preferred gathering information to use against people, like power, just in case. I was an easy target. I had even less of a connection between brain and mouth back then, just plain enthusiasm. If she said how much she really liked someone I would instantly agree and jump in to expand on that and search my mind for all the good things I could think about that person. And, most unfortunately if she said she really disliked someone I would do the same, maybe in order to feel connected. I always came to regret it. Big time, whether through my own further self-criticism or because someone had spilled the beans as young girls do.. My point is that really I didn’t have to criticise anyone. I liked talking and she liked listening. If I hadn’t been self critical of my talkativeness, I would not have had to aim any of that poison at her. Our relationship was a little rocky. Happily I now have a filter on such thinking and can step back and observe a little more. I try not to jump into critical fests or negative conversations. If you go by the Law of Attraction (‘The Secret‘) you would thereby attract more of what you don’t like anyway, so just in case it’s true and because I would rather think of good stuff or at least use my mind for more fun tasks, I try to keep away.

The joy in getting older is that I am more tolerant and would rather look for the good or at least look for understanding in situations. That makes me feel like I live in a really friendly world. And my friend? We stayed friends until we left school and I emigrated to Australia but last I heard, she had become an alcoholic, like her parents so I guess she had her own demons to deal with. I would keep in touch if I could find her though. What I learned is that either way, there is no point beating yourself up or feeling guilty about anything at all! And that means being self-critical. You have created a ‘version’ of events that doesn’t make you feel good. So create a new one that does.

Which actually comes round full circle to the quote. I digressed in a big loop. So if we are criticising something, whether out loud or in our heads, and judging unfavourably, it must have began with a negative thought. And that thought took root in a mind which allows or nurtures such thoughts, like a seed taking root in a garden. Is your garden barren and dry, where new ideas cannot sprout at all because you think you already have all the answers? Is it lush and fertile, where every idea grows (imagination abounds in this garden) or is it lush with imagination but full of weeds; the kind that are thorny and hurt you?

This is how I imagine someone who is very critical of the world. Ideas, concepts, people, new things etc make an impression and thoughts can start to grow in this mind, but a critical way of looking at the world invites the kind of things to grow that may not be doing them any good. It’s like polluting your headspace or vandalising your garden. Biological warfare. For example we could allow a thought such as ‘people are only worth talking to if they are young, beautiful, rich, powerful and/or can do something to help me get ahead’. It is likely a self-critical mind that thinks the person is not enough by themself and therefore needs this help in life to be happy. But that mindset causes you to judge everyone to see if they met those criteria and start looking for flaws intead of qualities. You become very critical. You overlook all the great qualities that human beings have!! We want to love, be loved, contribute, be heard and do good. All of us. There are so many words to describe human qualities such as the usual – smart, funny and beautiful and others such as quirky, patient, brilliant, mysterious etc etc. I think each of us would not have come into existence if we didn’t have something going for us. We would have been bred out millions of years ago. So which qualities are you choosing to see? Are you criticising others in order to compare yourself and make you feel better, because you have already done a hatchet job on yourself?

Now I am digressing. I feel I haven’t really gotten to the crux of this quote and what it really means to me. You might think you are criticising someone because they are ‘mean’ or have ‘dressed badly’ or whatever. You might think it is totally their fault, they are wrong, you are right, end of story and that you therefore have the right to criticise them. But it is always a two way street. On closer inspection you may have misunderstood them aand they weren’t in fact being mean. And by whose rules have you determined mean? Your own, so there is some resonsibility of your own here. And the dressing badly – who is to say what good taste really is? By what rules is it dressing badly? Do the people in other cultures dress badly because they dress differently to us? I don’t believe so. And nor does the person in your street. Might you say they have dressed badly because this colour doesn’t go with that colour and the current fashion is for that? How we all see colour is probably as different as we are unique and open to interpretation. It is known that some are colourblind and I am quite sure that even if we relly did see blues, greens etc the same, for some people the colours are probably brighter or paler or more intense. Bodies are subject to decay so I sure it changes over time? What I am trying to say is that it is good to examine any criticism you make, in your head or out loud and decide if it really is important to think that way. Adjust your filter of what you interpret and banish the criticism.

Our friends don’t like to disagree with us so it takes guts to try to suggest to your critical friend that their thinking and complaining doesn’t serve them ultimately. It takes trust on both sides to be able to do that; to tell the critical person not that they are wrong but that life would be more enjoyable for them if they could change their thinking.

I once read that we criticise most the thing that we do ourselves, which is really in line with this quote. So for example I am pretty careful with money and spend it according to my values, not according to social rules so much. If I want to have water in a restaurant instead of wine because water is good for me and wine is expensive and just makes me dizzy, I will not worry that the other diners think I am being cheap. I find the ones that call me a ‘miser’ or ‘cheap’ are the ones who spend their money carefully also. But they might value wine and forget that I may not. Perhaps they have their own little battle with spending money because they too are not great earners and fear there will not always be more where that came from. They carefully question their motives for every purchase to see the value of what is going to be obtained.

By focusing on things (and so often we focus on our own problems and lives because that is what we know) we become aware of what we deem our own weaknesses. We sadly judge and often criticise ourselves. And if we are super hard taskmasters and criticise ourselves for every little thing – too fat, cheap, loud, awkward, introverted, impatient etc etc then we are likely to judge the rest of the world along those lines also. Live and let live has a lot to be said for! To ‘live’ means to allow yourself to live, without self criticism and to ‘let live’ is to grant others the same. How much emptier would your head be (and free to be creative and productive and bring new, more exciting things into your life) if you could empty your mind of such critical thinking. Abandon criticism in any shape where you see it forming. Stop criticising yourself for everything and allow others the same freedom not to be judged. Others may not even know that you are criticising them so it doesn’t bother them. Even if they do hear it, your message may not match with their own internal message so they will hopefully discount it immediately and continue, free of self censure. The more enlightened will realise that ‘I’m OK, You’re OK’ (a great book I mean to read) and ignore your criticism except to feel sad that your head is full of such thoughts; that you have wasted time focusing on it. If they are less enlightened and do react, they will likely defend themselves and give you a dose of criticism back. Lose lose.

So how do I sum up my thoughts on this quote? I believe it is true. Actually I will rephrase that. It is true for me, in my own little world, the world I have created in my head and by which I navigate life. To criticise another comes from a judgmental, critical mind in the first place and if you are that type of person you will be self-critical. Because we are human we will sometimes fail our own tests and the unhealthy mind will turn on itself, leading to some kind of upset or even despair and depression. The non critical person has a healthier mind and has accepted that they are human and that it is OK to make mistakes, real or perceived. They will therefore be far less critical of others. There is definitely a link. We get crabby and critical when we feel under threat and insecure. So for me, I will keep tending my imaginative garden and do my best to prevent the weeds from growing.