May 15, 2018 Carole Levy

Being less critical

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.

Comments (6)

  1. Dear Carole, this is an absolutely beautiful blog. It speaks to compassion, care, connection,empathy and forgiveness. I love your sentence ‘ wanting to be perfect was a strategy I developed to be safe’. How powerful. Thank you so much for being vulnerable and honest. Thank you so much for sharing. Thank you so much for being the unique person you are!

    • Carole Levy

      Dear Tesse, I keep thinking about your work in organizations about the “empathy gap”. It’s been an inspiration for me! Thanks for who you are too!

  2. Jenny

    Dear Carole,

    This post really speaks to me. I can become obsessed with my own flaws, and the flaws of others, especially the people I love most! Perfecting my love for them (and myself) by accepting that we are all flawed and yet still lovable is an inspiring goal for me.

  3. Rick

    This is a powerful reflection at the core of the challenge, good reminder. Find my judgement of others never far from unhealthy judgement of self, fertile ground for healthy reflection I find, often with the help of a trusted confidant to keep it from being just part of the vicious cycle. Caring and love required.

  4. Bennett Goldberg

    Dear Carole,
    thank you for your words. I have struggled with being critical and judgmental of others, and as you say, being most critical of myself as if it were an excuse or defense. We spoke about approaching people with curiosity, not judgement a month or so ago, and your blog reminded me of that conversation. I wonder about it not being the content but rather the energy, and I imagine two people conversing around an idea, and the beauty that occurs when each help by providing new perspectives, new ways of modifying the idea, all to better its purpose and outcome. I think if we could be more open to functional co-creation, by giving up ownership of either the original idea or subsequent ones, then even the meaning of personal judgement falls away.

    • Carole Levy

      Thanks Bennet for your thoughtful comment. Yes, the problem with being critical is the “energy” – the energy of putting down to make ourselves feel better. We are not “bad” because we are critical. It’s often an old energy from our childhood that we’ve been carrying with us like a burden we need times to times to unload… on others! Finding a way to recycle this energy seems to be a good use of our brain!

Comments are closed.


Please enter your name and e-mail and click the Submit button to receive your download of the Bumpy Road Workbook. This will also automatically add you to my newsletter mailing list.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.