I’ve learned that pretty much any conversation that begins with “Did you see on Facebook…?” is about to become critical, judgmental or just plain unkind. I don’t know why it happens, or why when I peruse my news feed I develop an attitude: suddenly I’m the only person that knows how to plan a wedding, raise normal children (I don’t even have kids yet!) or take a flattering picture of myself.
And lately, all of those destructive, hyper-critical thoughts had been finding their way out of my mind, through my mouth and shared with others. When it’s happening it doesn’t feel so wrong, I mean there are some pretty eccentric people on my friend list, they do some weird things, and no one is quite as good as me at taking “selfies” that don’t actually look like I just took a photo of myself looking perfectly un-posed and slightly caught off guard.
But, I always walk away feeling a little unsettled and, well, mean.
So, here’s a few things I learned about not being so critical of the people around me:
1. Bury it. Bury that old critical nature in the ground. Don’t ponder it, meditate on its grossness, or make plans to fix it up; in other words, don’t work on not being critical. Rather, focus on thinking and saying things that build other people up. Focus on how I will feel more optimistic and the people around me will feel more safe and encouraged in our relationship.
2. Share it. While we don’t want to build a shrine to this old habit, it is good to let a few trusted friends in on the process. It’s important to note that we’re not asking them for accountability or parenting in this matter, but rather taking an opportunity to reinforce this new habit. So, for me, it’s good to discuss what things might trigger me to leak out those critical thoughts (like Facebook) and also talk about what it looks like to speak life to myself and the people around me.
3. Do it. Then look for opportunities to reinforce the new way of being. In my case I didn’t have to look far for people to encourage and support. Everyone needs a pat on the back and a word of hope or recognition. (Sending a nice note card might be a great step!)
I cannot tell you how much peace this change has brought to my life. Somehow, by not being so critical of others, I have become less critical of myself. I feel more settled in my relationships and with the people around me. And it’s fun to say encouraging things to other people. Seriously, it’s worth a try if for no other reason than to bring more peace to your own life!
P.S. If you have another minute, you’ll won’t want to miss this from Dawn: “Let’s face it, we all just want to be skinny”