Finger wagging

Today we ask you to observe how much you are critical of yourself and others.

Observe how much you are critical of yourself and others.

Also observe how much other people are critical in general.  Observe how much criticism is in the world, in daily conversation, in the things you read and see.

There is a great deal of criticism out there.  Everyone is a critic.  There is a judging, negative voice in your head, and there are judging, negative voices out there in the world — criticizing, attacking, tearing apart, finding fault.

This creates an atmosphere that is essentially toxic and hostile to the healthy development of life — as if you were trying to function in a room filled with choking, corrosive smoke.

All this criticism doesn’t do anyone much good.

And yet the critical voice will tell you that it is absolutely necessary and useful.  How are you to achieve anything in this life, unless there is a critical voice to tell you where you are at fault and falling short?  How can you hope to improve yourself unless someone is pointing out what is wrong with you?  How are good people going to fix all the problems in the world without criticizing all the bad people who cause all the problems?  

Really this is very counterproductive.

Imagine going a single day without criticizing and negatively judging yourself and others.

Probably you would find this impossible to do, if you tried.

But if you could, you would find that this simple act would immediately improve your life, and improve the lives of those around you.

So if you are interested in improving things, it might be good to try letting go of the compulsion to criticize.

Usually the critical voice in your head will argue about this: “If I am not being critical, then I will be lazy and passive.  If I do not criticize others, they will also fall short.  It is necessary for me to be critical of my partner, my children, my family, my co-workers — otherwise they will keep doing things I don’t like.  Also, I need to complain and judge all those bad people in the world; otherwise, how will things ever change?”

In truth, nothing changes when people act as they have always acted.  And people have always been judging and critical.

But if you chose to do something radically different — like letting go of criticism — then you would actually notice a real change in your life.

This is not to say, let go of the ability to observe the world around you, or observe yourself.  It is not about wearing “rose-colored glasses” and being blind to what is.

There is a difference between clear-eyed observation, and judging criticism.

Observation is what happens when you try on a pair of shoes, and know that they do not fit you properly.

Criticism is what happens when you try on a pair of shoes, and because they do not fit you, you say: “These shoes are no good!” or “I am stupid for even trying on these shoes!” or “What kind of idiot made these horrible shoes?!”

Do you see the difference?

It is necessary to observe things, and feel whether or not they are a good fit for you, if they are harmonious with your energy.

If you are cooking a meal, you will want to observe if it tastes good to you.

If it does not taste good, don’t eat it.  But you don’t have to attack yourself over it.

Criticism has the energy of an attack.  Someone has done something wrong, someone is bad, someone really ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Observation just observes.  There is no attack with it.  If the shoe doesn’t fit, try another pair, or leave the store.  If the food doesn’t taste good, don’t force yourself to eat it.

So it is actually possible to go through life without attacking everything critically, and not be lazy, or a doormat, or let the whole world fall to pieces.

However, most humans are deeply conditioned to believe that critical attack directed toward the self and others is the only way to achieve goals, to get what you want, to fix problems, and to “save the world.”

But the world is not going to be saved by angry people.

Truly, this is is so.  The world is not going to be saved by angry people.

But what about the sense of outrage that motivates people toward seeking justice, righting wrongs, punishing wrongdoers, and helping the oppressed?

In general, action that arises from outrage causes harm as often as it leads to any good.  Many horrible things have been done by people who considered themselves heroic, righting wrongs, fighting justice, liberating the oppressed, and so on.  People who are often labeled as “terrorists” are, in their own minds, heroes seeking justice.  

That is why the world is not going to saved by angry people.

Generally speaking, if you are an anxious, angry, unhappy person, the wisest course is not to focus on fixing all the problems in the world, but rather on becoming more peaceful in your own existence.

And one sure way to do this is by letting go of the compulsion to criticize yourself and others.

Start by observing how much you do this now.  How much in a single day are you exposed to critical, attacking energy — in your mind, around other people, around voices in the media.

When you observe this behavior — observe, without judgment — you may be surprised at how much of your time is spent engaging in criticism, hearing other people criticize, or reading critical attacks.  And remember, “attack” is the key word.  Analytical observation is not the same as a judging attack.

Once you become conscious of how much critical attack energy is in your life, see if you can reduce it.  Just see if there is another approach you can take.  

As an experiment, try going through one day without critically judging other people.  See how long you can go.  That’s interesting in itself.  Notice how you feel, and how other people are around you, when you are less critical.  

Of course, criticizing yourself for being too critical negates the whole point of the experiment.

Just do it in a playful way.  And see what happens.

It is interesting to see what life feels like when you release the need to always criticize and judge everything.

Maybe it will feel so good that you will keep doing it.  And if you fall back into criticism, that is okay, too.

Awareness is everything.