Who would love to be criticized? People who sense the danger of being associated with such a situation start looking for escape routes almost immediately. Especially opportunists and praise junkies who want to be in the limelight all the time would be down with fever in such situations. The people who wear masks of “Laughing Buddhas” in the modern society never realize that even a tiny comment can go a long way in bringing radical changes to their lives. Being open to criticism can help us become more skillful, orient our judgment in identifying the good and bad of the society, develop a helping nature in us and help us evolve into a strong individual which are good signs of living. The critics around us are our well-wishers who can be found effortlessly. They are the mirrors who show us our unknown perfections. I salute thee- my critic and welcome you with open arms.
But to be able to accept criticism and inculcate changes-It’s an abstract art. Sometimes our pride, an extreme ego of power and position, unwanted pessimism and an artificial famish about not being recognized build an iron wall around us and prevent us from being open to such criticisms.
Comment or criticism- It’s an analysis or evaluation of an action related to an object or person. We should be mature enough to understand whether it will help us rise or pave the way for our downfall. This act of being able to accept criticism would increase our capability of handling things. But there exists a bad practice of perceiving constructive criticisms as private abuses. Even before the critic explains the pros of his criticism, most of the times people get emotional and take it personally. The very first step in being open to criticism is to avoid having personal, emotional and negative encounters with it. But a great challenge lies ahead-neither getting excited by exaltations nor getting bogged down by criticism. And this is not something which can be developed overnight rather its PENANCE.
Is the person sitting in front of you able to gauge you correctly even in an ordinary situation, is he putting forth his comments wit utmost patience, his method although crude does it reflect jealousy, sarcasm and animosity? If it doesn’t then he is none other than our well-wisher who is giving us a chance to correct our behavior and quality of life. If we can digest his criticism then that would be the greatest honor.
There are no pre-defined models to measure constructive criticism or personality development books which say “You can achieve success when you are open to criticism”. The factories like publishing houses which constantly bring out such books can only make us more insecure and never take us forward.In this fast paced world where you find books like “101 shortcuts to achieve success overnight”, “How to attain salvation sitting on your sofa”, “1000 ways of increasing your lifespan”, finding people who are open to criticism is really a boon.
The only way to find our true selves is to expose ourselves completely. It’s a painful and disdainful journey. But for an ego which thrives in the world of exaggeration, selfishness and self-praise, it is indeed a difficult process to undergo.
In workplace, book release functions, art galleries, reading rooms and universities-this process can be brought out anywhere, but is always faced with contempt. Sycophancy, calculative thinking, “If I lick his feet today, he might be of some help in future”-in the rotten world of such opportunistic acts there is no place for being open to criticism.
In such a world where philosophy of opportunists “I will lick your feet you can lick mine, let’s not break this bond of ours” exists, reminds me of a Panchatantra story. A donkey looked at the camel’s hump and exclaimed “Oh! How beautiful!”and in turn the camel who heard the donkey singing replied,”Oh! What a melodious voice!” If you think such stories are suitable for these people it’s nothing but the truth, the eternal truth!
Why do you need to praise somebody? Why do you need to push them down? Why don’t we realize that a flag flying high would eventually lose its colour due to the sun, rain and wind. Transferring our burden onto someone else’s shoulders or carrying somebody else’s doesn’t really ease our lives.
Why have we not been able to develop a balanced state of mind, intelligence and sense of being? In such a case, to accept criticism with an open heart is the right medicine. It is important for us to stay away from people who worship us when we are present and talk ill about us behind our backs when we are not.
Patiently listening to people who are blunt about our work and then repeating those words before the mirror. Righting those sour tablet-like criticisms on a sheet of paper and reading them. It’s not a wonder if you feel, “Yes! What they said is so true!” If their criticism has carried you forward and helped you grow, then you are treading the right path in the journey of life!
Are their comments bringing out the different possibilities of truth? What part of me made them talk? How can I straighten the situation? If at all we get satisfactory answers to these questions, then we are moving in the right direction. To realize those Vamana’s* steps it’s an arduous journey in the thorn laden path. All saints who had the ultimate truth as their final destination completed their journey this thorny path!
Vamana- Fifth Avatar of Vishnu whose first two steps covered the earth and the sky