It’s true that when we expose ourselves to criticism, and respond to it with a right attitude, we can mould ourselves into better persons. (Nick’s comment appended to an earlier post, Hypocrisy – do we have to practice duality? got me thinking on these lines)
While the change can happen only if we allow ourselves to mull over the criticism instead of brushing it aside, it is important, first, to see whether the person wielding the hammer and chisel intends to sculpt us into a thing of beauty.
We cannot allow our spirit to be broken or our individuality to be stamped out. Criticism that is intended to help us become better can be useful, but not comment that intends us to stop being Ourselves.
But who are We? Who am I? That’s a question that we need to answer upfront. We cannot, need not and indeed must not delude ourselves about ourselves.
I would like to reiterate that self-delusion can lead to disastrous consequences for ourselves, like in the following story. The story has nothing to do with criticism at all, but it does help get my point across – that we must be careful about letting ourselves be led by persons who are either misguided or out to misguide us! And, delusion about who we are and who our friends are can be our nemesis.
The story which follows was in the news in London recently:
Three young men came out of a bar some time in the wee hours of the morning, or late at night. One of them found his aunt, a physically disabled lady, prostate on the pavement outside the bar. He kicked her and when she didn’t get up, poured water all over her. His associate (I hesitate to call the relationship between the young men ‘friendship’, as a ‘friend’ would not have misguided the drunken young nephew of the hapless aunt in the manner I’ll describe presently) zipped out his cell phone and urged the young man on, saying “This is You Tube material!” The young man went on to urinate all over his aunt, who bore it all lying on the ground, helplessly. She died soon after.
Even in a drunken state, surely, the young man who perpetrated the dastardly act on his aunt knew he was doing a vile act! Surely, he cannot delude himself that his depravity sprung from his friend’s ‘encouragement’! And most certainly, the person who urged the young man on to greater vice cannot be called a friend!