Criticism, although it is directed outward, has a personal component. It is a projection of
our feelings, thoughts, wishes about ourselves. It’s been said that we can only perceive
in others what is in ourselves. Criticism may just be compassion in disguise. Jane wishes her friend would value herself enough to demand better treatment. Is it possible that Jane wishes better treatment for herself? Stephanie wishes that her mom loved and accepted her unconditionally. But here is Stephanie not loving and accepting her mother (or herself!) unconditionally. Ruthie wishes that her husband would notice and spend time with her instead of work and be exhausted all the time. Although, why would he want to, when she is not pleasant when he’s around? I wish my brother could see all the amazing possibilities for his life and relationships all around him. How limited is my view of my world?
Like all ‘shadow’ behaviours (the name given to what we declare to be vices), criticism is a clue, a sign, and an invitation to look beneath. For those brave enough to look there, it soon becomes apparent that it’s never as scary or as bad as we think it’s going to be. Our ‘dark’ side is very simply fear in disguise. We fear being alone, we fear not being liked, and we fear fear. Like all roads to recovery, the first step involves acknowledgement. Once we notice our fear, we can name it. Once it’s named, it can be addressed and compassion can be applied.
What and or whom are you criticizing?