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“When you have the choice, practice being kind instead of being right” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

It is so tempting to criticize others when we believe they aren’t doing something the “right” way or when they say something we believe is “wrong.” Whether we voice our disapproval out loud or internally, many of our thoughts involve judging others and ourselves.

Dr. Wayne Dyer emphasizes how one of the keys to our inner peace is suspending judgement: judgement towards ourselves and judgement towards others. Many people don’t realize that others, especially those we find fault with, are our mirrors. What we label as imperfect in them is also true of ourselves.

I remember when I finally understood this truth. I had often felt frustrated when I thought my mother wasn’t listening to me. Then one day I had my “aha” moment. I realized that when she called, and I was watching TV, I didn’t give her my full attention. I justified my inattentiveness because of the nature of the conversation. Sometimes she complained about the rabbit that ate her precious flower buds, or the squirrel who invaded the bird feeder – topics that failed to captivate me when my favourite TV show was on. While I judged her as a poor listener, the more I thought about it, the more I realize that I too can be a poor listener.

One of the reasons we tend to criticize is because we don’t fully accept ourselves. We may think, “I like myself”, but upon deeper reflection, most of us would admit that we have qualities we are embarrassed by and want to hide from others. Perhaps we have said or done something which we now regret.  Perhaps we’re experiencing shame or guilt which we’ve held onto for years. If we haven’t fully worked through the healing process and released those feelings, they can come out in the form of harsh criticisms, either towards ourselves or towards others.

Judging others often feels good because, in that moment, we feel superior to others and our ego is delighted! We may spend a lot of our day feeling powerless and afraid while not even realizing it. Then, someone makes a mistake or says something we find inappropriate and before you know it, we’ve thought, “I would never have done that”, or “I can’t believe he said that. I would never be so rude,” or “I can’t believe what she’s wearing!”

We often forget that when we judge others it’s like turning a knife on ourselves. As I wrote about in Don’t Stop Believing, it’s a scientific law of life that we attract what we give out. If we are critical, that negative energy comes back to us like a boomerang.  It may not come back through the person we are criticizing, but it will come back in some way.  If we give love, that is returned to us in the form of positive feelings and circumstances. We create what we experience through our thoughts.

As Marianne Williamson says, “Only what we are not giving can be lacking in any situation”. What can we give instead of criticism? What can we do instead of blaming others for our misfortunes? Let’s try giving love even when we don’t feel like it. Let’s try giving grace even when it’s not deserved. Let’s try giving kindness even if it’s not popular. Let’s try giving compassion even if it doesn’t come automatically. Let’s try forgiving ourselves for our failures and flaws and forgiving others for theirs. Let’s try recognizing the beauty and the brilliance within ourselves and within one another.

When it comes down to it, if we want more peace, more love, more joy, and more abundance in our lives, it’s simple: we must suspend judgement towards ourselves and others and instead practice giving love. Let’s all try putting love first for a day, a week, or a month and see how this changes our lives and the world.