everyone is a critic | by: Victoria Klein

I have been oh so guilty of  telling it like it is at times. Especially in the photo world.  Hyper critical. A perfectionist. Justified my “criticism”  based on the fact that that I had spent too much time in art school critiquing and being critiqued. It’s true. My skin is thick from the classroom experience. They let us have it in college and it was considered constructive if you say something nice with it.

Granted there are indeed people with a skill set that should not be running businesses in every industry.  But…do I need to take the time and energy to more or less tell them they stink? No.  I wasn’t being mean for the sake of being mean I just was pretty darn matter of fact and through a computer you can’t hear tone. You’ve seen it before. Maybe you have been on both ends one time or another. The backlash is exhausting. Trying to defend yourself. D.r.a.m.a city warehouse. I finally  realized  it would be wise to use my energy elsewhere.  So, about about a year ago I dropped out of every forum and group that had gotten under my skin and  in turn the criticisms  fell away.

I know many of you can probably relate to this and if you are in any kind of public forum you see and/or deal with things like this.  Two words for you. Walk.Away.  If the groups and/or  forums, walking groups, maommy groups, gluten free clubs, whatever.  If they are not serving you in positive ways. Kick them to the curb. You won’t miss it.

Because some of you might say… this amy boring chick told me “your blacks are too black and your sh*ts out of focus” when I asked for constructive criticism back in 2008….. who is she to talk about love and compassion?? So, while I confessed my past himsa sins I invited my friend and fellow yogi  Victoria Klein to do the talking about the practice of Ahimsa, the conscious act of compassion and love for all…something we should all be more cognisant of.

She is the author of 27 things to know about yoga and  48 things to know about sustainable living. Please share her words with your friends and together we can make life more pleasant just by being a little more conscious of our thoughts and words.

everyone is a critic | by: Victoria Klein

I’m judgmental. I’m critical. I’m a little too opinionated.

NEWS FLASH: you probably are too.

You’ve met them before – the person who has an opinion about everyone and everything. Food, cars, fashion, religion, sexual orientation, hometowns, kids, college, career … etc. – you name it, they got something to say about it and insist on sharing it. Maybe that person is your friend or a member of your family or someone you work with.  We all come across them and try to tolerate (or simply ignore) their overly critical words.

Why do they do that? Why can’t they just be nice? Why can’t they keep their opinion to themselves? Why are they so rude? Don’t they have any compassion? Don’t they care about what others are going through? Don’t they respect the decisions other people make?

HIT THE BRAKES! All those questions – all those thoughts you have about what those overly critical people say … now YOU are being critical of THEM!

All we are doing is perpetuating the cycle. Hate breeds hate. Nit-picking breeds nit-picking. Criticism breeds criticism.

Most often, the things that we dislike, overanalyze, or fuss over in other people … those are the things we dislike about OURSELVES. If I’m having a bad hair day, I am more likely to notice how other people’s hair looks – and have a strong opinion about it. If I’m stuck on a project or an idea that I’m trying to move forward on, I am more critical and impatient of other people “dragging their feet” and complaining about feeling stuck in their lives.

Alternatively, we also dislike and fuss over that which we don’t understand or haven’t experience ourselves. Instead of responding with curiosity and compassion, we lash out and assume anything other than “our way” is harmful (and this can all happen subconsciously!).

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – (often attributed to) Plato

Tough days happen and sometimes we just need to unwind … but taking it out on others isn’t the way to do it. You’re pissed off. You’re uncomfortable. You don’t want to be in your own skin. Instead of lashing out, let’s learn to turn a curious eye inward. Take 5 minutes to ask yourself WHY you feel the need to be overly critical of others in this moment. Allowing yourself to be silent will help the true answer, your true feelings, rise to the surface and provide you with the clarity you need.

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” – Anonymous

My yoga practice – both physically and spiritually – has led me through crippling depression and social anxiety, helping me grow comfortable with leaving the house, having responsibilities, being in social situations … the benefits multiply on a daily basis. At its heart, my condition is based purely on being overly critical and over-analyzing everything (something I still manage on a daily/hourly/every moment basis).

One of the “wise characteristics” (a.k.a. spiritual/ethical tenants) of yoga is ahimsa. Often translated as “non-harming”, a more useful definition is “embracing compassion and love for all.” Many ancient yogis have stated that if you master ahimsa, then you’ve mastered all of the ethical elements of yoga (of which there are 10).

If you live your life from a perspective of ahimsa, you are free from anger, jealous, or hatred. Whenever you start to feel judgmental or frustrated, imagine your best friend; your mom; your sibling – someone that you love deeply and fully support. Or how about a 6-week old puppy or kitten or panda bear – so adorable! How would you treat someone you loved or cared for in that moment? You probably wouldn’t yell, insult, or judge – you would simply be there for them, heart and ears open, ready to help.

Feelings are going to rise up. It’s biologically naturally for us to be judgmental – it is a survival instinct. That being said, I don’t think someone else’s hot pink stretch pants or who they choose to love or their career path directly affects your health and happiness. When the feelings arise – as they will – observe them. Feelings are not failures; they are invitations to dive a bit deeper into yourself.

So the next time you run into or spend time with an overly critical person – BREAK THE CYCLE!

Hate breeds hate. Nit-picking breeds nit-picking. Criticism breeds criticism.

Compassion breeds compassion. Kindness breeds kindness. Love breeds love.

Help ahimsa bloom. Be the change you want to see. Start with yourself. Pay it forward.

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