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May
22

The Compassionate Critic

I am at school…learning how to be a writer, or to be more precise, I am putting my writing out there and letting others split it wide open. A bloodletting might be less painful. Actually, I am—shockingly—being over dramatic. It is a very good and supportive place to be and to learn. But exposing myself to criticism, smiling and nodding my head as someone says—I just don’t get what you’re trying to say here—is not an easy thing to do. Yet, when given and more importantly received in the light of compassion and kindness criticisms can be helpful.

There are, of course, other times when criticism is not so helpful. What’s the point in telling someone they look tired or their shoes are not so pretty or their car could really use a good cleaning? Do any of those things really matter? Probably not. While I have no control on how others assert their assessments, I do have control over how I take them. I can view them as hurtful or ignorant, or I can let them wash over me and wash away. I know their criticisms may have merit, they may even be very accurate, but I do not know how important they are in the scheme of life. How important they are in my determining how I should live my life.

What is important is that I do not think less of myself or less of the other person. If I hold myself in the light of compassion—with all my faults and shortcomings—then I have great room to hold others in that light too. It may be a difficult thing to keep in mind in the midst of a discussion or when receiving that questionable comment, but it is also a way to practice being good to ourselves and good to others.

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