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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Nasty 'Gift' of Criticism

“Don’t criticise what you can’t understand.”
— Bob Dylan
Emotions are funny things. Strangely, we control many of our days, resisting the overflow of the emotions, keeping our hearts in check, yet other days cast us into tailspins of tumult and we are quickly ready to throw in the towel. Many of our poorer days combine untimely circumstances with unsavoury encounters of criticism and condemnation—3 and 4 at a time. A public roasting puts paid to several hour’s peace. There is the interrupted night’s sleep and a reticence to go back into the fray. Our emotions flag our fatigue just as much, if not more, than the lack of sleep.
Criticism is a barb of ignorance, simply because to be attacked—or feel attacked—usually means there has been an attack. And attacks generally characterise the loss of control in the attacker. The feedback may be well intended, but when it becomes criticism the gloves are off! Those doing the criticising have lost sight of their understanding. Those being criticised, now with the evolvement of the emotions in full swing, can neither be objective nor emotional. The criticised are in a no-man’s land. Objectivity is beyond them and they feel guilty for being emotional.
Sometimes I find poems are a good way to express rich sentiments:
Why the Sting of Criticism?
Why is it that people criticise so?
They wouldn’t hurt us if only they’d know,
The effect that the cutting has on our hearts,
We carry the stress with us in fits ‘n’ starts.
Before you criticise, deride or condemn,
Do what you can to consider them,
Because they, like you, are easily hurt,
There’s no reason at all to treat them like dirt.
***
People may still criticise and condemn if they knew how it would hurt us, but if the shoe was on the other foot they wouldn’t feel the same way. It’s amazing how sensitive critical people are. I have found a neat correlation between those who blame others and those who cannot accept responsibility. These are the ones that criticise.
***
If only we really knew the effect of our words and behaviours on others within the quiet crevices of their minds and hearts.
When we try others people’s footwear for size, taking a stroll in their lives, we find it stark and cruel what they are exposed to. We experience a flash of empathy. God has our attention. Then we see no point to criticism and condemnation.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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