People who are overly critical of others frequently admit that they are also their worst critic, as if being critical of oneself softens the blow of being critical of others.
Being critical of others in the sense of being “fault-finding and judgmental” is a pervasive problem. It is a mindset darkening life that implies we can’t tolerate others’ weaknesses nor our own.
I hate having this flaw!
When we are critical, we think that it’s for a good reason: it’s to perfect Life! To be clearer, more professional, more thoughtful, more empathetic, more engaged, less disorganized, less confused, less passive… or less critical!
The problem is not about the content. It’s about the energy. When I’m carried away by my negative critical tone and become obsessed with some imperfections that I absolutely need to eliminate immediately, there is an energy of disgust, intolerance and even hatred.
As a child, wanting to be “perfect” was a strategy I developed to be safe and included in society: Having good grades, being nice and polite but original and witty, Jewish enough for my Jewish Moroccan family, but “Neutral” enough for the rest of the White Catholic French society. Trying to hide and push aside anything that wasn’t“perfect”, according to my norms, was my goal.
On the path of being self-aware, even enlightened, it is also easy to confuse “improving the self” with “perfecting the self… and others!”
So, I try to remember and practice what I heard Jack Kornfield once say during a conference: “It is not about perfecting our self, but about perfecting our love.”
It is all about love, always.
Reflective questions: Are you critical? Are you a perfectionist? Have you tried being less critical? What has helped you to shift your critical energy?
[SE1]I like the very interesting detail about your attempt to adjust to your culture in a perfect way.