I typically write at the beginning of the year why I don’t use New Year’s resolutions. And this year, although I am not going to embrace the resolution ritual, I am setting an intention to break the habit of criticism. I don’t expect I will never do this habit again. But my intention is to move the needle in the direction of less criticism toward myself and others.
Criticism is toxic for relationships. Both relationships with others and relationship with self. I have a robust habit of criticism that I have learned to tame it over the years, but that is not breaking the habit. It is just self-management.
One time when Angus and I were traveling with a friend. She commented to me how she noticed I corrected Angus when he was using hyperbole in his storytelling. I hadn’t noticed I did that and it didn’t seem to bother Angus, but I realized afterward she had a finely tuned sensibility to criticism than I did.
My kids have also told me they have felt my high expectations even when I thought I was doing my best to conceal them and offer them praise and encouragement. The underlying subtext of my criticism and judgment nonetheless found a way to glide through the hairline cracks in my feedback.
That is often how it is with our blind spots. We don’t see what is obvious to others.
As I reflect on this now, I realize that good enough is not a concept I typically embrace. I have a penchant for optimization and improvement.
I remember being invited to watch a movie with friends. I chose not to go because the movie didn’t have very good reviews. My friends went and had a great time with each other. I missed out on the fun and enjoyment of connection because the movie wasn’t good enough to warrant my time.
I know there is more for me to see in this direction. That is why I have set the intention to look. Rather than looking to optimize myself, others, or circumstances, I am looking in direction of “what is” being good enough. Not in a resigned way, but in the inspired way of experiencing the perfection of the moment. To really embrace being present, appreciating what is, and feeling the miraculous nature of existence in real-time.
It is a miracle that a movie gets made no matter what the critics think. It is a miracle that we exist on this blue planet. As Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
The latter makes sense to me, and it is something I miss out on when I look through the eyes of criticism rather than the eyes of love.
And, I don’t need to be critical to embrace and engage in change. In fact, I think my efforts to make a difference in the world and people's lives would only benefit from me experiencing more awe and wonder. This is an indicator for an open-heart and what better state to be of service from.
With the respect to my relationships, I truly hope that my interactions with others and with myself reflect more of the unconditional love of my true nature.
I can feel my conditioning’s resistance to fully embracing change. Will I become a pushover? Will I put myself in harm’s way? Will I be boring? Will I lose my critical thinking skills? Will I survive? That is always the bottom line of my conditioning.
Will making a dent in breaking the habit of criticism cause me to somehow be annihilated not just physically but emotionally? Will I embarrass myself, feel humiliated and be consumed by what -- self-criticism! Isn’t that the irony of it all? The only thing I have to fear is my own critical self-judgments. That is it!
My intention is to tune in more often with the feeling of impersonal love in my heart and return to that as needed. I look forward to seeing what is revealed as I look more intentionally in this direction.
Criticism is a learned habit. Love is foundational. Criticism is illusion. Love is truth.
The compass point is the feeling of unconditional love. The feeling of my true nature.
I am open to the unknown and to the realm of infinite possibility revealing to me more fully who I am so I can express the love of my true nature more fully and with less contamination of my personal conditioning of criticism.
That is my 2021 intention.
Please share yours so we can encourage and support each other!
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.