Five yogic rules for criticizing others
by Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on October 6, 2015
When we say, “It’s not your place to judge people,” it’s an amusing paradox.
We just judged someone for judging other people. Claiming refuge in the fact this person judged first doesn’t solve the conundrum.
Judging is not a sin. We judge when we choose our closest confidants, marry, hire and fire employees and vote.
Judging others is inevitable, and it can be valuable self-study.
One. Our criticisms are our festering sores.
Others’ flaws are on our radars for a reason.
When we refuse to accept someone’s quirks and are instead compelled to criticize them, or worse, when someone else’s personality and delivery make us angry, it just got personal.
We’ve met our teachers.
Two. Look in the mirror.
While we point to the dust in another’s eye, it is the perfect opportunity to turn that gaze to the logs in our own.
Popular Biblical homilies are not exactly condemning judgment but warning against hypocrisy.
If someone else aggravates us that much, we can assume the object of our scorn is a mirror.
He’s pompous? Greedy? Self-absorbed? She’s competitive? A blowhard? Closed-minded?
As are we.
Our grounds for criticism were so accessible because they are fertile within us. The more flaws we’re compelled to correct, the more work we have to do on ourselves.
Once we’re able to see ourselves through others, we’ll resolve not to solve other people’s issues, nor will we don tyrannical capes and attempt to change the world.
We’ll refine our own behavior, and, instead, live our lives as examples.
Three. Release the past.
It’s possible those negative qualities we dislike so much in others aren’t in us. But, if they make us mad, it’s still personal. They might be triggers for past hurts and disappointments.
We must search our memories and exorcise the ghosts. Be wary of transference.
Four. Look for criticism patterns.
We’ve sent invitations to everyone in our lives. We surround ourselves with people we think we deserve and who reflect our self-concepts.
What have we been collecting? Are we frequently complaining about friends and family members who are abusive? Emotionally unavailable? Do we have to beg for attention? Do they live with addictions? Do they have less-than-honorable intentions?
Do we collect critics?
Instead of trying to fix them, we thank them for revealing how we have been confronting ourselves. Then we clean house. Remember, we aren’t rejecting anyone. Accepting who people are doesn’t mean we need to live with the madness on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s best to love from a distance.
Five. Know the difference between judging and assessing.
When we realize that people’s personalities and traits frustrate us, we must accept responsibility.
Did we expect a trusting confidant in someone who repeatedly trash talks others? Courtesy from someone who habitually bullies and ridicules customer service associates, food servers and retail workers? Compassion from someone who heaps scorn upon the poor and disenfranchised? Reason from someone who believes violence and force solve problems? Generosity from someone obsessively materialistic? Adventure and excitement from a couch potato?
It’s our responsibility to accurately assess relationships. Perhaps we were in denial. Perhaps it was wishful thinking. Perhaps this person was a master of disguise. Perhaps we were working through our own stuff. We’re just thankful we reassess, and then we move on.
When does judging go awry?
Judging has crossed the line when we assume we’re entitled to shame, condemn and punish other people.
We selectively arrest, prosecute, bomb, incarcerate, ostracize, execute and call out the National Guard for a most arbitrary and peculiar selection while the darkest of hearts (including our own) roam free and unquestioned.
It’s quite the conundrum.