How many of us know this critic all too well? This cold and timid soul who spends his precious time casting criticism from the cheap seats?
How many of us know this critic because we have been this critic— lurking on the shadowy sidelines of someone else’s best effort? Watching as they step boldly into the arena, only to meet their courage with judgment and criticism? Pouncing on their every misstep, despite our own generous heart, loving spirit and best intentions?
I’m learning there’s really only one reason we ever feel compelled to judge or criticize another person, and it has nothing to do with how kind we are.
It does, however, have everything to do with how afraid we are.
As human beings, we are programmed for survival. We live our lives in a latent state of fight or flight— our very DNA laced with the intrinsic fear that there’s only so much success or beauty or money or genius to go around. We believe these resources are limited— like a batch of cookies. The more we give to each other, the less we will have for ourselves.
So naturally, we spend the better part of our lives fighting for a place at the table.
But what if we had a choice?
What if we decided to let go of our fear? Might we start to see our world as a place of abundance and expansion, instead of scarcity and lack?
What if we could lean into the beautiful and counterintuitive mystery that the more we give, the more we get? Would we be more willing to offer others our help and support, knowing that their success is not a threat to our survival?
What if there really was enough wealth and influence and beauty and happiness available in the universe to secure each of us our own place? What if the table was big enough for everyone? What if all this fighting and scraping and hustling proved totally unnecessary after all? What would happen then?
A terrible thing.
We might actually have to step into the arena, ourselves.
Wowza. So, so true. I do have to admit that even though I am not prone to criticize, I do kind of have this mentality (especially in writing) that there is just so much room in the world for what I have to offer. And it so not true! I do love to help others succeed in their careers as writers. I don’t experience jealousy. Actually, to the contrary. It brings me great satisfaction. But yes…something in the back of my mind does tell me that they might be taking up the space I could be occupying if I would be more pushy. And like you have pointed out, that is a falsehood. So refreshing. Thank you. I think I’d look good with some mud on my face!