My new article on Linkedin “What Is Purposeful Criticism?”
Criticism is a trait that exists in all of us, to one degree or another. It is a direct result of our egotistical nature. Egoism constantly pushes us to test and measure ourselves against others in order to gain the best and most comfortable position in relation to them. But this constant comparison sits in our head as a burden, highlights the flaws and promptly locates the shortcomings in every matter.
Compulsive criticism makes us lose patience and forbearance and leads us to reject anything that seems foreign or different to us. According to the perception of the ego, we place ourselves at the center of creation; therefore, we demand to be accepted unconditionally the way we are. Is that something negative? No, it is a natural feeling. But such acceptance does not work the other way around. We judge others and if we see they are in a better position or have better qualities in our eyes, we feel disappointed and even depressed because we constantly aim at being perceived as more successful and superior compared to the rest.
The endless comparisons to other people prevent us from attaining good and healthy relationships. It causes us to be in constant friction between each other and prevents us from reaching agreement and mutual understanding. And if everyone cares only for his or her own goodness and justice, then a beautiful bond with others can never be formed.
There are no tricks for tackling this judgmental approach that our egoism compels us to assume, no panacea works on it, no psychological exercises or philosophical arguments, nor can it be repressed and suppressed. Why is this so? Because human nature pushes us forward to achieve only what is in our own benefit and to look for faults solely outside us.
“One judges others according to his own flaws,” our sages wrote. The imperfections we see in others are actually our own imperfections. They are a projection of what we need to improve in ourselves, what we need to fix by changing our whole worldview from egoistic to altruistic, and learning to see others as an integral part of ourselves.
We need to begin engaging in a new kind of criticism in which we start scrutinizing ourselves, our lives, our nature, in order to balance our overweening egoism that evokes destructive criticism of others. Self-examination will help us to rise and observe our condition from an elevated perspective, and to awaken great forces that lie in the depths of nature to help us discover a new attitude toward our surrounding environment.
Everything that happens in our lives is handed down from above, so we must look toward the future instead of agonizing over the past. The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches us that we cannot truly change anything by ourselves, but can only attract the positive force of nature through our efforts toward good relations with others. This force in nature will be able to counterbalance the negativity that is in us and balance our natural egoism. If we attract the positive force, we will stop being judgmental of our neighbors and there will be no need to “eat ourselves up” with guilt about the past. As it is written, “The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh” (Ecclesiastes 4:5)
Therefore, the revelation of our selfish being as a result of self-scrutiny should act as a springboard by which we leap to act in an opposite loving and caring way toward others, above the ego. If this self-accounting becomes part of our new nature, what is it that we will judge? We will measure the proximity or separation between us and others, and the strength of the efforts needed to bridge that gap and draw us closer to each other. This is the only kind of useful and purposeful criticism or evaluation we should make if we want to reach balance and improve our lives.