Criticism, a Failure to Understand

A dream series last night had me as guest and contributor to a group of very rich people in both home and elegant hotel settings. They were all, at least socially, pleasant and welcoming of me. They assumed I was as good as they and that I was able to take care of myself (they weren’t going to treat me to lunch just because they had more money).

Money cant buy poverty sticker
Waking up, I combined elements of this dream sequence with last night’s falling asleep mantra (which was “no criticism, only understanding”), I can see that the rich were all very interested in their lives and in understanding more about their lives; they were wasting no time being critical of my lower status. So, I learn that rich people, whether they have money or not, are focused on learning more, not on criticism.

We may think that rich people can indulge themselves to learn anything they want because they don’t have to work a nine-to-five job, but that thought is not really wise or understanding; it is critical of rich people. It is being jealous and envious of those that have more choices, more time, more access, more connections, more education, etc.

The truth is that we can all spend more time on understanding and less on being critical; this will enrich our lives. And where we nine-to-fivers learn isn’t where the resource-rich learn. So we have an opportunity here the rich do not have. It’s kind of like the humorous bumper sticker that proclaims “I have something money can’t buy: poverty.”

I want to make it clear that when I am talking about being critical, I don’t mean a well-thought out or researched critique. I mean being critical of others in a general and in knee-jerk fashion, thoughtless of others and ignorant of the details.

For example, I see a lot of older people get very critical of the younger set and wishing for more of the simple pleasures, less stressful times, etc. But this just being thoughtlessly and egoically critical for the sake of one-sided complaining; it’s not for the improvement of or a good outcome for all involved.

Here’s a personal and current example: Recently, I became quite critical of one of my school instructors. I got so wrapped up in it that I talked to the Dean and had serious thoughts of quitting school. By being critical without understanding the details, my bad feelings extended to other people at school, including other students. The Dean’s counsel didn’t help much. I started a list of things wrong with the school so I could justify my decision to be critical and angry. Within a few weeks, I was talking and complaining to a different instructor who heard me out, but also explained a school policy that the “dreaded” instructor was limited by and that had embarrassed him. I had a choice then to let my “nemesis” off the hook and to look at the level of criticism I was embracing. It’s so easy to criticize when we don’t know all the nuances of the situation.

Being critical like this is not unlike a spreading disease. But this disease is one I can stop. I can nip it in the bud because I can choose understanding over being critical. And if I don’t understand the specific situation, at least I understand the cure.

Tonight I will again do my mantra as I go to sleep: phrase one with inhale, phrase two with exhale. “No criticism. Only Understanding.” “No criticism. Only Understanding.” “No criticism. Only Understanding.”

Then, if I can wipe the grin off my face that comes from being committed to understanding, and thus discovering a truer reality, I will be able to sleep.

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