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We all have to live with criticism.  No matter what we do or how well we do it, there almost always will be someone there to criticize our efforts, the results of our efforts, or both.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Criticism becomes a problem when we take it to heart, when we take it personally.  When we see criticism as a reflection of who we are as human beings, then we face one of the biggest obstacles to living a full life there is.  Other human beings have found it fitting to criticize something that we've done, or to criticize us personally.

The way that criticism affects us, though, has very little to do with the criticism itself, the person or people who are criticizing us, or even the way that they're criticizing.  Criticism becomes an obstacle to our peace and happiness depending on the way that we take it, and nothing else.

My simplified perspective on criticism is this:  If someone's criticizing me to try to hurt me personally, then that person simply isn't worth me losing my peace of mind over what he or she has done.  If on the other hand someone is criticizing me sincerely and constructively, then he or she is trying to help me, and I should look upon their words and actions as help, and nothing else.  I should try to learn what they want to teach me with their criticism, and grow because of it.

I usually find that people who are criticizing don't know the whole story behind a certain action or process.  Have you ever taken someone to task for not completing a job or a task only to find out that something completely out of that person's control had happened, not allowing them to finish the job?  I've criticized my step-kids for treating certain people in ways that seemed poor to me, only to find out that there's much more to the relationships than the little bit that I saw.

If I'm being criticized constructively, I should be thankful that someone is taking the time to teach me, even if they may not do it in the most diplomatic ways possible.  The way I react to the criticism will determine how I feel about myself and how I relate to others who are with me, and it's important that I separate the criticism from myself, personally.

But what about the people who constantly criticize others, almost mercilessly?  In their cases, the criticism that they're dishing out is the obstacle to their full lives, as people learn very quickly to avoid them at all costs if they don't want to be criticized.  These people often don't understand why others don't want to be around them, even as they continue to criticize almost everything that they see.  I don't want to spend time with anyone who's going to belittle me and all that I do, so I'll stay away from them as much as I can.

These people also are teaching themselves never to be satisfied.  I've known quite a few people like this, too, who seem simply unable to let something be, just as it is.  It's either too cold, too hot, too blue, too short, too new or too old.  There always has to be something wrong, and they always have to point it out.  Can you imagine how sad life would be if you were never able to look at something beautiful, accept it for exactly what it is, and enjoy it?

So criticism can hurt both the receiver and the sender, keeping both from living life as fully as they possibly can.  At least the receiver has the option of taking the criticism in a healthy way and not lose his or her peace of mind over it.  If one is a constant sender of criticism, though, it's very possible that the person doesn't even recognize the way that he or she is sabotaging his or her ability to be accepting of life and the other human beings with whom we all share this planet.



How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.

Benjamin Disraeli


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All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.


 Criticism is futile because it puts
a person on the defensive and
usually makes one strive to justify
him or her self.  Criticism is
dangerous, because it wounds a
person's precious pride, hurts
one's sense of importance,
and arouses resentment.

Dale Carnegie
How to Win Friends
and Influence People



To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

Elbert Hubbard
also attributed to Aristotle


Do what you feel in your heart to be right--
for you'll be criticized anyway.  You'll be damned
if you do, and damned if you don't.

Eleanor Roosevelt

When we criticize another person, it says nothing about that
person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.

Richard Carlson

People can be divided into two classes:  those who go
ahead and do something, and those who sit still and inquire,
"Why wasn't it done the other way?"

Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Sufi poet Rumi wrote, "Your criticism polishes my mirror."  If you
understand who you are and respect yourself, you will not see criticism
as a problem but as an opportunity to become a better person.  When you
feel inadequate or imperfect, the criticism is threatening and makes you
feel that you have to defend yourself.  When you are secure--not perfect,
but secure--you can listen to the criticism and consider its value.  You can
say, "I'm sorry." And "thank you for polishing my mirror," and when it is
appropriate you can learn from the criticism and improve your behavior.
I say when it is appropriate because there are some people who love
to find fault in others.  That is their problem.

Bernie Siegel

There is nothing as easy as denouncing.  It don't take much to see
that something is wrong, but it takes some eyesight
to see what will bring it right again.

Will Rogers


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Criticism has the power to do good when there is something that
must be destroyed, dissolved, or redirected, but it is capable only
of harm when there is something to be built.

Carl Jung

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain--and most fools do.

Dale Carnegie


I am my own biggest critic.  Before anyone else has criticized me, I have
already criticized myself.  But for the rest of my life, I am going to be with
me and I don't want to spend my life with someone who is always critical.
So I am going to stop being my own critic.  It's high time that
I accept all the great things about me.

C. JoyBell C.

One has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.

Abraham Lincoln

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary.  It fulfills the same function
as pain in the human body.  It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

Winston Churchill


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing
exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor
by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.

Herman Melville

People ask you for criticism, but they only want praise.

W. Somerset Maugham
Of Human Bondage

Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation.  We
think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling
our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.

Fulton J. Sheen
Seven Words of Jesus and Mary


It is much more valuable to look for the strength in others.
You can gain nothing by criticizing their imperfections.

Daisaku Ikeda

The trouble with most of us is that we'd rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.

Norman Vincent Peale

The pleasure of criticizing takes away from us the pleasure
of being moved by some very fine things.

Jean de La Bruyère


The motive behind criticism often determines its validity.  Those who
care criticize where necessary.  Those who envy criticize the
moment they think that they have found a weak spot.

Criss Jami

People tend to criticize their spouses most loudly in the area
where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.

Gary Chapman
The Five Love Languages

I discovered very quickly that criticism is a form of optimism, and that
when you are silent about the shortcomings of your society, you're very
pessimistic about that society.  And it's only when you speak truthfully
about it that you show your faith in that society.

Carlos Fuentes


We can learn more by welcoming criticism than by rendering judgment.

J. Jelinek

There is nothing sacred or untouchable except the freedom to think.
Without criticism, that is to say, without rigor and experimentation,
there is no science, without criticism there is no art or literature.  I
would also say that without criticism there is no healthy society.

Octavio Paz


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