Judgement. Finger-Pointing. Like Mississippi and Alabama pointing at each other and saying, “Well, at least I’m not on the bottom of THAT list” or “At least I’m not the worst at this other thing.” Growing up, I really used to think that sometimes (okay, I still do. I hate to see my home state on the bottom of every.single.list.) Every great now and then, I catch myself thinking unkind thoughts about someone else, which is not okay – not at all. It’s a personal flaw that I detest. Still, it’s imbedded in my character in spite of my best efforts to root it out. I don’t know that I will ever completely eradicate it – I’m pretty sure I won’t. However, I am equally sure that I will never stop trying.
Well, because, friends, I live in a great-big-giant glass house, that’s why. I’ve made some colossal mistakes – some publicly, some privately, some recently, some antediluvian. Some of the mistakes were collaborative efforts, some of them all mine. Regardless, I’ve screwed up. It’s essential that I take responsibility for my own mistakes, accept that others make them as well and allow for that.
When I don’t meet the expectations I’ve set for myself, I am thoroughly annoyed and a whole lot of self-castigation goes on. “What were you thinking?” “Why didn’t you…?” “You should have known better.” I’ve got a full repertoire of disparaging phrases I use on myself. Guess what? Every single one of them is worthless.
There is course correction and there is criticism….and there’s a big difference. While I have to own my mistakes, the healthy way to do that is to identify them and plan ways to avoid them in the future. If I slip and make the same Ben and Jerry’s mistake again, then I refine my course correction. I don’t waste my time and my energy feeding the negative recording with those Phrases of Condemnation (you have to read that with sort of an echoing voice to get the full effect).
It’s so much easier to ignore my own flaws if I’m busy pointing out those of others. But. at the end of the day, I don’t have a right to do that and the process helps no one. It doesn’t make them any better. It certainly doesn’t make me any better nor does it make the world in general any better. It’s a gigantic waste of time that increases only the negative energy around me and, generally, my own level of dissatisfaction. That’s directly against what I’m trying to do and who I’m trying to become.
I’m trying to increase the levels of positive energy around me to ultimately become a better human. It’s that whole Scouting thing – leave a place better than you found it. I believe that should hold true whether the place is a campground or a room atmosphere. I should leave it better than I found it, or at least no worse.
To do that, I have to open my hands, drop the of pebbles I’ve been clenching and replace them with a rag and bottle of Windex. Throwing rocks isn’t my job and it’s not helping me accomplish anything. Cleaning the windows, though? That’s moving in the right direction.