Among all human virtues, impartiality (also called neutrality or fair mindedness) may be considered the most difficult to achieve because it is not inborn, but has to be cultivated through a torturous process of cutting oneself down to size, so to speak. Impartiality doesn’t only mean being humble about oneself or one’s achievements, but it also implies “detachment” from oneself in order to understand the people and the happenings around one in a better, more comprehensive way.
But most of us remain rather too attached to ourselves, so attached and inward-looking that anything happening outside ourselves, anybody succeeding other than ourselves become objects of jealousy. The “ability” to criticize others and consciously or unconsciously stop short of appreciating others comes quite naturally to us.
If we analyze why such a tendency creeps into an individual, we’ll find that it starts from childhood itself with parents most of the time making the child feel that he/she is the best among his/her peers. And gradually when the child grows up and finds that he/she is not the best, at least not in every way, the tendency to find fault with others grows as a defense mechanism. It is also perhaps, the only way he/she has seen people around him tackling their own lack of abilities. The feeling of “self-importance” and the “holier-than-thou” attitude so pervades the world that it is often difficult for an individual to escape it.
Our response to criticism is also a measure of our maturity. It shows how mature we are. It is a clear indication of how solid a ground we stand upon in our life. Sometimes, even the best of people are found lacking when it comes to gracefully accepting criticism which targets their meticulously cultivated “wisdom”. But one can surely attempt to acquire a mental frame in which criticism is a welcome proposition. An attitude which encourages criticism so as to correct, improve and discipline oneself.
Why is one, after all apprehensive about criticism?
Perhaps the basic reason can be traced to the most universal human characteristic-self-love or ego. In our subconscious minds, we consider ourselves infallible. Criticism affects that sense of importance. Hence the problem about accepting it.
However, there are some people-the “over-sensitive ones”-who tend to get bogged down by critics. Low on self-esteem, they fear ‘exposure’ and respond to criticism with bouts of depression. A mind which is closed to criticism and a mind too sensitive to it- both suffer and fail to grow. Criticism can be dealt with only if tackled objectively.
As it is said, “a person is a good judge for others and a best lawyer for himself/herself”. We tend to judge others by their behavior, and ourselves by our intentions. People should not be judged by the scriptures of their faith or the scars from their past, instead should be embraced by the content of their hearts.
The ability to praise others and criticize one’s own follies and foibles is the sign of a mature mind aware of the ground realities and the eternal fact of life that nobody is perfect, and nobody deserves to be perfect. Nobody has it easy, everybody has issues. You never know what people are going through. So pause before you start judging, criticizing, or mocking others. Everybody is fighting their own unique war. But to achieve that state of mind one has to free oneself from preconceived notions and prejudices a test which most of us find difficult to stand.
Those who spend their precious time looking for the faults in others usually make no time to correct their own. By the way, if you start judging people you’ll have no time to love them.
Don’t judge people by their covers, most of their books are still being written.