Being Critical or Superior?

I could be inducted into the Hall of Fame for Critical thinking.  But not the literary kind of critical thinking.  One of my lasting pleas for individual development is to reduce my judgmental and critical initial response to whatever happens in my world.

I am self-aware enough to know where my critical processes originated from . . .wait for it . . . my parents, who believed that they were being responsible parents and teaching me how to make good choices, by pointing the poor choices of others.

A short list of “Thing Never to Do:” chew gum in public, wear backless shoes, curse, have dirt anywhere on you, unkempt hair, wear wrinkled clothing, use your sleeve instead of a hankie, ask a stupid question, be late, make the wrong friend, be overweight, be too thin, have smudged glasses, dance with the wrong boy, be sneaky, get a bad grade, not try your hardest, not do your best, not stand up for yourself, be too loud, be a wallflower, lose anything, forget to turn off something, have an unkempt bedroom, home; and never, ever have junk in your yard.

I sorta, kinda failed in most of the above departments, but I want to say I still iron my clothes.  My daughter’s did fail the ironing thing.  I remember on an early school morning, following a daughter out of house, before she could get into her car, holding up my iron and saying, “I’ll be glad to iron your blouse–it’ll only take a minute.”  Luckily she ignored me and continued on into her much more carefree life.

Being critical of others typically should allow me to feel more superior in some aspect; but for me, it doesn’t work that way.  Being critical of others is like pointing the smoking judgmental gun at me.  Why can’t I have instant thoughts of “to each his own,” and “There is that God in everyone” (that’s the correct Quaker response).  My world would be less emotional, less intense if I focused on my own actions rather than others’.  So what if someone arrives at the grocery store with her hair in curlers (yes, I saw a lady last week in this state of 1950’s attire),  a child looks too dirty to be in public, holding his parent’s hand, who doesn’t at all seem to want to spit on a Kleenex and scrub, or the kid who forgot to lace his shoes–heck he/she managed to buy a pair of extra-large tennis shoes with NO laces.

I believe that being critical of others, by keeping our “Never Do This List” firmly entrenched, we abandon our ability to adhere to Jesus’ second commandment: (basically) “love thy neighbor.”  It is this judgmental, superior attitude that is at the forefront of most of our enduring schisms, failures, loses, vindictive behaviors, and inability to compromise.  This can be applied to family dynamics as well to governments and the world’s inability to work together to further the saving of our earth and ourselves.

Be gentle with your critical processes–and apply the gentle to others.

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16 Responses to Being Critical or Superior?

  1. irishsignora says:

    I totally fail at ironing and never wearing backless shoes in public 🙂 It’s a lesson I’ll be learning forever, I think — how to point out error without being supercilious or condescending, but with great love for neighbor, and remembering to look first for what’s right instead of what’s wrong. That second one’s a real bear. Peace be with you. — Kelly

    • dearfriends says:

      Isn’t it amazing that we are so good at looking for the wrong instead of the right? I think we need to constantly speak up about the RIGHT of people, to be an example and hopefully some of it will endure beyond our scope. Thanks so much for your kind words. Barb

      • irishsignora says:

        I read a post, a while ago, that had in it a suggestion I’m trying to put into practice, to wit: try to make five positive statements about a person before making a single negative or critical one. Statements containing the word “but” do not count as positive. For this normally garrulous Irishwoman, that practice has caused me to pause before speaking and, sometimes, to simply remain silent if I’ve nothing constructive to offer. I’d still holler, “hey, your pants are on fire” if a person were, in fact, aflame, but I’d refrain from phrasing it as, “That was stupid! You just lit your pants on fire!”

        Barb, it’s always a pleasure. I’m still meditating on your comment about raising children with faith versus trying to mold them into ideological clones 🙂 –Kelly

      • dearfriends says:

        Hello Irishsignora,
        What a great idea–insert positive thought (or 5 of them) before opening mouth. I wonder how it might change our world to have this as the “expected” or “normal” way of reacting to others. Thank you for your comments. Barb PS–I’m going to give this a try and see what happens. I suspect that I will be much quieter than usual.

      • irishsignora says:

        I’ll be trackbacking to this post tomorrow morning — had a bit of an object lesson today 🙂

      • dearfriends says:

        I’ll be glad to see you back here, hope your object lesson has turned out well. Thanks for visiting, Barb

  2. patricemj says:

    Being judgemental is like wrapping one’s head in plastic (“don’t put that bag over your head”), it deprives us of oxygen. If we want to love others, we need to be conscious 😉

    • dearfriends says:

      Oh what a lovely way to phrase it. And the visual image. Thanks Patrice for your astute comments. Barb

      • patricemj says:

        Sort of a strange image, I know (sorry, not really that lovely). But I do recall being told not to put the plastic bags fruits and veges come in over my head. I’ve never linked this useful admonition to activities or ways of being that create similar internal conditions.

        I think a lot about being critical as I am constantly needing to assess for such thoughts in my work. I don’t think we can always do away with judgements, but we can at least strive to sideline them a bit so we can take in more of the whole picture.

      • dearfriends says:

        Hello Patrice,
        This whole subject of being judgmental has brought additional thoughts to mind. We want our children to be judgmental when it comes to making good decisions and being safe; but, we don’t want them to use their internal little voice for judging others who seem to be different then they are. What a task for a child to tackle–when to judge and when to be accepting. Whew. Thanks for your comments–Barb

      • patricemj says:

        So true, Barb! This must be a tremendously difficult task for our young ones, and us older ones as well 😉

  3. Generally, I don’t think judging others is not helpful. I’d rather focus on making myself the best I can be.

  4. Pingback: ‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings | dailymomprayers

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