Joe Dunne, Publisher
I’m always amazed at the amount of time we devote to criticizing ourselves. It seems to me we give this cranial activity way too much power. Our areas for self-criticisms are usually quite predictable—the ways we have somehow failed to be perfect in social interaction, parenting, work and public image.
Why is it so important to us that we present this perfect person? Certainly, some things are worth striving for, and the journey toward achieving a great outcome can bring out the best we can be. There is much merit in doing things right and holding ourselves accountable. But “perfect” is a hard and often impossible expectation. It always leads to dissatisfaction in self. And expectations don’t end with ourselves… they expand to include others. We are often harsh to those we should be nurturing the most, expecting them to be perfect. But the perfection we demand is not “their” perfect, it’s “our” perfect.
Consider the sad results of parents and coaches expecting a perfect understanding of baseball from 9-year-olds. Or when you hire a person for one task or talent and then become disappointed that they can’t do all the other things you need. The expectations can’t be met—the person is incapable of delivering the outcome you expect. Disappointment is overwhelming, and the downward spiral of self-criticism continues.
Here is a great quote by Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This describes expectations in a nutshell. In keeping with this awareness, I’d like to prompt everyone to consider the expectations you have of yourself. Then, try to lighten up on yourself.
Just like self-criticism spreads to others, so does being gentle with yourself. It may not seem like a big step, but it is a step in the right direction. If we want peace in the world, let’s start within.
With peace, love and laughter,