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Less so now, but I have been stalked by perfectionism, which is the ultimate critic – can get into every column inch of the newspaper. Trying out new things with the joy of stumbling forward requires me to not take too much heed of my critic.
When I am being critical, I focus on the negative and miss the positive in people, animals, experiences, places and myself. This diminishes my curiosity, calm, confidence, compassion, creativity, courage, clarity, and sense of connectedness – components of interior wellness according to Richard Schwartz, PhD, developer of the Internal Family Systems Model of Psychotherapy. As a result, the possibility of joy is greatly decreased for me.
Stressing about work or feeling defeated, not good enough steals my joy.
When I focus on the negative, I automatically lose joy. And one negative thought can lead to another, and another…until you’ve found yourself in a spiral of crushing emotions. And that negative energy, unfortunately, can rub off on others. Hijacking the joy of those around me. Being critical serves no purpose.
Sometimes, people do stupid things that really get me riled up, but when I allow myself to get that way, I find that I am less open to unconditional love and care for others. On the other hand, when I work to cultivate forgiveness and remember that the person in question has a story that I could never fully understand, I am able to embrace them with love, remembering that they are acting from their own pain.
When teaching I have, of necessity, been expected to evaluate or “critique” my pupils’ efforts. But this doesn’t mean that I am “being critical”. In the former I am looking for positive and negative attributes, while with the latter, I am only looking for and expressing the negative.
And to do that is to be a killjoy, a single word that describes the hijacking of the possibility of joy in both the giver and the receiver of the criticism.
I learned from the practice of the 12 Steps not to take others’ inventories but, if their behaviour causes resentment in me, then the answer is to pray for them and ask to be shown how to be useful to them.
“I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community
When I say, “I like this, but don’t like that”, it is a subtractive process. Joy resides in “all inclusiveness”.
I think I do this to protect myself from disappointment. Of course, it also robs me of joy.
We won’t even go there. Being critical has, in the past, been my greatest fault. Since stumbling onto the book Secret last May and then this website, I have been engaged in a very real battle to become a positive person and suspend criticism. It is an ongoing battle, though I am noticing some small improvement. Being grateful is getting easier and more automatic.
Oh oh this touches my core wound — and my lifelong transforming work as an enneagram One.
I always read others responses first before adding my own and I like the distinction made between helpful and hurtful criticism—- because it’s when criticism = judgement and negativity that experiencing joy becomes less of a possibility. But when criticism = advancement and improvement it leads to results and accomplishments that allow us to experience joy.
Not criticism, but worry – I’ve been good at remembering : “I can’t foresee the future” most of the time lately, but I started worrying about the election. Then I read in “Kitchen Table Wisdom” about responding to life with surprise, and I’m now regarding the election as an adventure instead of worrying about it. As I’ve said before, I don’t need to add more ‘worry’ to the world.
While my analytical mind helps me to make right decisions and solve problems, sometimes I feel the opportunities to soak myself into pure joy were robbed. Even though I don’t verbally express minor problems I can see, it manifests as skepticism and pessimism in my attitudes. I need some time-off from my critical thinking.
I’m being critical of myself because I’m in pain. The pain from the migraine is brining me down. I have to be honest this is hard. I miss you joy .
I am so sorry. I suffered from migraines for years until they finally went away in my late 20’s. I hope yours end for good soon.
Thank you so much Linda . ♥️
I know that migraine and joy can’t co-exist. May your migraine attacks become less frequent and less painful soon.
What you say is true . It’s challenging me deeply. 3rd day today. Thank you for your kindness.
Ah, where do I begin in a world that seems to be turned inside out right now. Joy is only possible in the present moment and I have allowed the trifecta of disasters (political, environmental and COVID) to take me out of the present moment. The “them and us” feeling that is never healthy, nor joyful. I am working on that one.
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