Blog Short #7: Turn your critical voice into a self-awareness tool.
Welcome to Monday Blog Shorts – ideas to make even Monday a good day! Every Monday I share a short article with you about a strategy you can use, or new facts or info that informs you, or a new idea that inspires you . My wish is to give you something to think about in the week ahead. Let’s dig in!
Today’s blog short is something you can use to counteract criticizing and judging others, while also channeling that impulse toward improving your self-awareness.
It’s human nature to observe others and make judgments. We all do it.
The tendency naturally arises because we’re wired to scan the environment for danger, and part of that is to observe with a discriminating and discerning eye what’s out there that might harm us. In that sense, it’s a natural defense mechanism, and a necessary one.
While it’s good to be cognizant of others’ behaviors and motivations, getting focused on them with lots of criticism and judgment usually goes beyond normal observation and information gathering.
In this case, our natural impulse to observe others has morphed into a different kind of defense mechanism which is guarding our own egos by diverting our attention toward someone else’s stuff.
By focusing on someone else’s stuff with a critical eye, we can avoid working on our own stuff, and in some cases, deny our stuff altogether. That’s a bigger danger!
Here’s what you can do about it.
The next time you find yourself having one of those mental conversations listing someone else’s negative habits or behavior or personal characteristics, stop and ask yourself these three questions:
- Is the thing I’m criticizing something I do myself? Don’t answer quickly. Really give it some thought. More often than not, it is. Not always, but quite likely. It may be that there’s an element of it that belongs to you, if not all of it.
- Is there something I need to do to help the person I’m criticizing? For example, if you’re ruminating about a boss or co-worker or a friend, is there something you can do about the problem to resolve it? If not, or if it’s not a problem that greatly affects you, let it go and move on.
- Here’s the last question, and the most important one: What do I have in my own closet that I need to be working on? We all have stuff of our own to work on, and that will go on until we’re gone. You’re a work in progress. Spend more time working on your own stuff than on somebody else’s, and you’ll be better for it. Not only that, by becoming more evolved, more competent, more self-aware, and more compassionate, you’ll be helping everyone.
Make this a habit. Every time you find yourself ruminating about what’s wrong with someone else, ask yourself the three questions. Then actively work on you.
Start this today, because I’ll bet you’ve had at least one critical thought about someone today.
See you next week!