The word criticism – isn’t it always associated with negativity?
Whenever this word is used doesn’t our brain automatically creates the image of a person who is badgering us? Is that the truth, or, are we escaping from reality? Allow us to state that this is merely one side of the coin!
What could be the other angle to consider regarding a criticizer?
Consider the situation in reverse. What if the criticizer has noble intentions and is trying to point us toward personal improvement?
Advice from a mystic poet and saint
Kabir, the 15th Century Indian poet and saint, in one of his writing guides:
निंदक नियरे राखिये, आँगन कुटी छवाय |
बिन पानी बिन साबुन, निर्मल करे सुभाव ||
Ok, agreed this is Hindi. Literally translated it means:
We shall keep the criticizer closest to us by constructing a hut in our courtyard. As even with soap or oil the criticizer cleanses our character.
Such is the worth of a criticizer in our overall personal development. However, we shall consider the criticism with an open and positive frame of mind. And evaluate it objectively to derive value out of the words.
Does it mean that every criticism adds value to our personality?
No not at all! Criticism is of two types Constructive or Positive a Destructive or Negative.
Protecting ourselves from the effects of Destructive Criticism:
We interact with multiple people during the course of our life. And like everything else some interactions may be loaded with negative criticism directed at us. Certainly, the criticizer may be trying to beat-us-down.
It is essential to protect ourselves from this. Because this can lead to creating inaccurate notions and ideas. Which in turn may lead us towards a wrong direction of personal development.
Thereby, hurting us in multiple ways, say, career, self-esteem, social life, mental well-being etc.
But the question is how to differentiate?
The differentiation lies in the intent and following pointers help in differentiating:
- Noble intent: In case a person wishes us well. Then the criticism would be presented with examples of the specific behavior. Moreover, the criticizer may also suggest methods to improve the particular personality drawback.
- Criticizers frame of mind: If the criticizer is not in a positive frame of mind, then how can you receive positive criticism? Be aware of the criticizers frame-of-mind indicators, like anger, depression, frustration, etc.
- Opinionated criticizer: Won’t we agree that such people might have a skewed or distorted view of the world? Thereby, they would be analyzing us from their distorted perspective. Hence, consider the criticism from them very cautiously.
- Criticizer under the influence: Any person under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substance may not be in their senses. Hence, be very careful! As we all know that people may utter words in this state which they might not in a sober state.
- Competitors: Alas! The modern world and the rat race. Do you think someone who is in competition would mean well! More often than not, No would be a simple logical conclusion.
- Criticism in public: How often a person who criticizes in public would have noble intention? We all would agree that a feedback is best shared in private, better, still if it is one-to-one.
- Habitual Praise: A person who is habitual in praising may not be praising but deploying flattery. But why? They may be having some ulterior motive and some personal gains on their mind.
- Habitual criticizer: People who crib about everything in the word, can they be called positive? This again is a category of whom we shall be extremely cautious.
These are a few pointers towards identifying the positive criticism.
Positive criticizer identified Now what?
Follow the advice of saint Kabir. However, you may not construct a hut in your courtyard!
The constructive criticizer is a pathway towards an improved personality, and glory. Moreover, it reduces your friction with the world, thereby improving your mental state and life force.
As an end note, we may summaries that first identify the constructive criticizer. Thereafter, derive all the positivity you can from the feedback received.
May your path to self-improvement begin!