Some things are so much a part of who we are we barely notice their existence. Self-criticism can be like that – so pervasive, so subtle, we hardly know it’s there eating away at confidence, corroding the quality of our life. We can counter self-criticism with words we label positive – fling ourselves into a diet of affirmations and positive thinking. But Awareness has a better solution than setting up yet another duality of positive versus negative.
Self-criticism is really self-judgment. We judge all the time. It’s the way we’re wired and it helps us navigate our world. We categorize and compare constantly, instantly. It seems almost impossible to look at something, a chair for example, and not make a judgment about it – the color is attractive or unattractive, the height too squat or just right, the shape sleek or cumbersome…in other words positive or negative. Everything is positive or negative.
But look at the same chair without judging any aspect of it and a whole new world opens up. We can see curves and angles, textures and shapes previously obscured by the rush to decide whether we like it or not, the rush to judgment.
Then try this exercise looking in the mirror. The face looking back is neither beautiful nor ugly…nor anything in between. It’s not fat or thin, oval or round or square. It just is. Suspend description, suspend words, suspend thoughts. It’s the best way I know to find love beneath self-criticism. But like meditation it requires practice, over and over again – a bit like self-criticism.