Crunch of CriticismI recently experienced the “crunch of criticism.”  (No forgiveness on the horizon!)  It happened as I was reflecting with friends (Diamond Approach Inquiry work), exploring areas where our souls — our psyches, our innermost beings  — feel “less than”;  less than mature, less than whole, less than at ease.  In other words, where is my soul underdeveloped in its capacity to be free, to be relaxed?  It was immediately clear that the crunch of criticism was one of those areas for me.
After learning about the importance of the vehicle I drive (previous blog) :-), spending more time in the Surrey with the Fringe on Top, taking the time to breathe more deeply and slow down, it was a painful and crunchy contrast to feel the sharp pangs of criticism, the crunch of it.
Even though I feel warmhearted and well wishing, toward others and myself, a lot of the time, I also have a deeply critical nature.  In the Inquiry I felt how ingrained, how much a part of my very fabric, the critical part seems.  It is as though I “can’t NOT be critical”.  Criticism just arises in certain situations, willy nilly.  Almost against my will.  (I’m gonna keep the details private here, but I invite you to explore the degree to which this might resonate with you, and to inquire into your particular areas.)
I felt into the hopelessness of it.  It flew in the face of my preferred self-image.  I felt dragged down and sullied by it.  I wanted to just be done with it, for good and all!  But of course things rarely work that way.  Recognition and awareness are just the start, but at least they are a start.
One of my friends (thanks Tricia!) asked me if I could forgive myself.  At first I thought she Promise of Forgivenessmeant I should forgive instead of criticize.  But then I realized she was asking if I could forgive myself for all the criticizing… forgive my critical part.
What a jolt that was!  Tears welled up, as I experienced what I could call the “promise of forgiveness”.  Could I really forgive all that meanness, the damage, the incessantness…?  Could I?  Well no, but I could indeed feel the promise, the change, the acceptance, the release, the shift …that came when I opened into the promise of forgiveness, instead of dwelling on the criticism.
Forgiveness was like a light, a soft glow, a sweet holding, a opening.  Radically different from the crunch of criticism.
And so the process continues.  It’s a lifetime’s work, eh?  And we’re in this together.  What I learn, experience, share can be part of your journey, and vice-versa.  Together we are part of an evolving consciousness. We are growing “evolutionary awareness.”
Criticism and ForgivenessThere were some other helpful insights that made the inquiry memorable:
     • I grew up under a dark shadow of criticism.  My family had many wonderful qualities, for which I am very grateful, but there was an underlying tone of criticism, of comparison, of judgment, and often enough it was directed at me.  No wonder it’s in my fabric!  Further reason for forgiveness and compassion,  not more criticism!
     • It’s part of my “shadow side”, and shadow work is not fun.  My friend asked me if I could “love up my shadow”?!  It made me smile, to feel into the possibility.  At first the answer was “no”, but then I could indeed feel the possibility of loving my critical side, that shadow.
     • I felt quite frustrated that I was dealing with this yuckiness, the crunch of criticism, (yet again!) — I wrote about the toxicity of criticism not that long ago), when I just wanted to move on.  But I realized that this time around it felt like everything was at a deeper level, deeper understanding, deeper experience, deeper promise of healing, of acceptance, of wholeness.
     • It’s Easter week, Good Friday, and how timely to focus on “sin”and forgiveness.  I don’t normally use the “s” word, but I certainly had noticed that I was not in control, just helpless, how the critical part was just there, even though I didn’t want it to be; and the core of the Christian story is about the promise of forgiveness.  I can’t do  it, but it can happen.
     • I also was relieved to discover that while my critical nature is front and centre at times, at other times it’s nowhere to be found.  I am not critical all the time, or in all areas.  The inquiry helped me see the bounds and limits, and realize that much of the time, and in many ways, the critic is not driving the bus 🙂Blessed blooming
So there you have it, a reflection on the crunch of criticism and the promise of forgiveness.  Just in time for Easter, for the deepening of Spring, the unfolding and blooming.  We just took a walk with family in the Stanley Park Rhodo garden, it was heart-opening.  I wish you a Happy Easter, Passover, blooming season and sweet spring blessings!
Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Your feedback is most welcome.
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