I Love Criticism

I don’t love giving criticism.  In fact, I avoid doling it out altogether.  That’s because I love all people and refuse to see their flaws.  But I’m coming to love receiving it.  When I receive criticism, I reflect deeply on it.  Sometimes I’m ready for the criticism to trigger change; other times, I’m not.  But I’ve developed a model to effectively address criticism, which I will share with you if you are interested.  All in all, I love criticism.

Criticism nurtures my sense of responsibility.  For example, I read that a military school allows first-year students to say only one of three things to their commander: “Yes, Sir!” “No, Sir!” “No excuses, Sir!” These choices of words are powerful.  When criticized, the no-excuses point of view helps me take full responsibility when things go wrong.  That’s because I can influence finding a solution.

Criticism helps me get the hard job done.  It ensures I take corrective measures to get the job completed.  Even when the obstacles seem insurmountable, I’m more likely to achieve the impossible if I take on a “No excuses, Sir!” approach.

Embracing criticism prevents victimhood.  Loving criticism ensures I’m not a victim, casting blame and making excuses.  Instead, it helps me focus on my own growth and not the flaws of others.  After all, we can’t change others, but we can change ourselves.

Criticism helps me to stay neutral.  No matter what we do in life, we get knocked back and roughed up sometimes.  The joy is in taking these experiences with love and equanimity.  It’s where I discipline myself to not get attached to the praise or criticism but instead accept it with joy.  That way, I stay centered.  In martial arts, the key is to not get swept away by the wins or losses but to remain neutral.  The ideal place of neutrality is one of unconditional love, I believe.

Enjoying criticism helps me to love the criticizer.  And love for all souls is the state of mind I must always maintain.  I especially love my criticizers, as they help me to address areas for growth.  After all, everyone has a right to their opinions.  Therefore, it’s essential for me to respect and appreciate everyone’s points of view, even if they conflict with my own.  That’s what makes life rich: the splendid uniqueness of every soul, as every life is precious.

Here is a system to ensure growth from criticism.  This model is partly based on a logic course.  First, write down the criticism.  For instance, one that has me reflecting is, “I’m materialistic.” Next, reverse the criticism: “I’m not materialistic.” Then, if it doesn’t quite appeal to me, I revise it to something that can help me grow.  For instance, I could alter it to “I seek a high income to give most of what I earn to others.” And then, I’ll do what it takes to make the change: read books on philanthropy, take courses on philanthropy, search YouTube, and likewise.  Perhaps not today, but at the right time.  At the very least, it’s now in my consciousness as a goal.

But, with all criticism, a person is sometimes not ready to make change.  Or the flip side has no appeal.  If it is genuinely a flaw, a catastrophic event may eventually arise that forces us to address it.  But until then, embracing criticism through early self-examination is a way to bypass the inevitability of a major roadblock.

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