First: When someone criticizes another, it says something about THEM, and nothing about the person being criticized.
I have had to think and re-think this over and over in my brain for the last several months, as I wound my way through life. It really helped me when I would have a negative exchange of words and come away feeling like I absolutely embodied all of the insults or attacks thrown at me. Here's an example: a few days ago some poor lady posted a really NASTY thing on the Damsel in this Dress facebook page about how...oh, my heck, I can't even stand to repeat it. Let's just say that she took a look at me in a corset and it must have triggered something in her, and she posted....Phew.....here goes (I hate mean words SOOO much) "They should call this facebook page 'Fat girls trying to squeeze their pudge into too tight of things. SO unattractive!'" (don't worry friends, I deleted the comment and banned her.)
I'm not going to lie, that SERIOUSLY hurt. My first reaction was to write something super mean or contradictory back, but then I remembered that people that use that kind of language LOVE it when they get strong reactions and attention for their charged word usage. THEN I remembered the whole thingy about how the words people choose say more about THEM than they say about YOU. I thought carefully about the kind of person that would make such a random, un-provoked attack and use such gross words. In my brain, I saw a woman who was so desperate for attention that she would take any kind. I saw a woman who had been told unkind things, and so she only knew that language. I imagined someone who felt so absolutely awful about their own body that they would attack anyone just to bring them to a slightly "higher level" than the person that they were putting down. By the end of my interactive brain movie, I felt so horrible for this poor woman that I wanted to hug her and build her up and ask what I could do for her! I wanted to give her a corset, and then maybe that could encourage her to change her perception of corsets. However, I don't think she's in a place to have her world changed. *sigh*
And just in case any of you are thinking that I'm trying to advocate a "never listen to criticism" type of attitude, that is not the case. I just want to make sure that I, myself, am taking the time and thought to not only try to understand where the anger is coming from, but also to consider the intent with which the words were spoken.
"When you criticize another, you take that part of their negative energy and bring it back into your own life."
This freaked me right the heck out! But it made TONS of sense. Whenever I have put down another human being, it always feels akin to eating piles of doughnuts. Its feels delicious, sinfully good, and indulgent while I'm doing it, but the SECOND the act is over, I feel awful and hollow...yet full of the wrong kind of junk. This feeling includes strong word exchanges over the internet. The very few times that I've allowed myself to get sucked into "troll" drama, I have felt sick in my spirit for days afterward. I always think it might feel good to "be right" and "show them" but the only thing I'm "showing" is my weakness and insecurity.
Here's the deal. I have a different life, a different set of thoughts, experiences, feelings, reactions, stories and insecurities than the person I might be criticizing. I have heard the whole "Walk a mile in their shoes" bit a ton of times, but then I heard it explained a little bit differently and it really resonated with me. You don't imagine YOU walking a mile in their shoes, because it's still you and your dang brain and your perceptions. You would have to desperately endeavor to imagine that YOU are THEM, in their shoes, with their thoughts and energy and the whole bit. Would you behave differently? Probably not. You can honor what their have individually gone through, instead of tearing them down through your narrow, misguided and......unhappy lens.
So, the takeaway? Love yourself. Love others. Please, oh, please. Just love. It FEELS good. It brings YOU more of what YOU want. It's peaceful. It's empowering. It allows you to breathe and focus. Love heals. Love changes. Love ignites.