by Jackie Woods
Criticism can be helpful or hurtful. How can we know the difference? Recently, a woman got her feelings hurt because she felt I had not been friendly enough. My first instinct was to defend myself, because it wasn’t my intent to be unfriendly to this person. My second instinct was to justify my action by explaining myself to her.
Thankfully I didn’t act on either my first or second instincts. Instead, I went to her and stated the truth that I really did like as much as I knew about her, and I was sorry that I hadn’t conveyed that. I would like to tell you that everything was smoothed over, but that is not the case.
She made sure that we had few interactions so I couldn’t physically offer more friendliness. However, she still came up in my thoughts. And when she did, I sent friendliness to her. This action provided her the energy she obviously needed and it put into action my heart supply of friendliness, which this situation was asking of me.
Criticism can be very damaging if we hear it as a fault rather than as a request. That is not to say we have to bow down to the other person’s perception of us. Of course, we don’t. But defending or justifying a perception does not change it. Change happens when we hear the criticism as a request for our heart to offer more love.
By meeting critical demands heartfully, rather than emotionally, mentally, or physically, we have expanded our love. This turns criticism into a gift for all involved. However, you will need to learn to quiet the part of you that wants to defend or justify. If you don’t quiet those voices, then you strengthen them. And who wants to strengthen the need to continually explain your existence?
In addition to your heart energies becoming stronger, this way of dealing with criticism offers generous gifts to your adversaries. If you can send a blast of whatever energy they need, when you meet or think of them, soon they will be less in need of that energy. This is just another way to love your neighbor and yourself. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.