“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” Dale Carnegie
I was with my qualifier all weekend, either doing something fun or working on a project for the boat. We never used to be able to work on any project together. I either felt criticized for what I was doing, or I was busy taking her inventory and condemning right back.
There were moments when we were discussing the boat project yesterday that I wanted to criticize or offer an opinion in an impatient manner. It's easy to lapse into the old pattern of thinking that I have a quick solution and to not listen to what the other person has to say. When either of us begins to condemn mentally and speak critically, it signifies that I've bought back into the idea that I'm right and my wife is failing my expectations.
But being critical, complaining and condemning is not going to motivate her or anyone else to change. I have learned over the years in a professional capacity that destructive criticism isn't much appreciated. Being critical can evoke feelings of tension, resentment, and hurt. Criticism can cross the line to condemnation that puts a person on the defensive and wounds self-esteem. It isn't a good way to increase morale. And that's because no matter how logical criticism may seem, we humans are not creatures of logic but creatures of emotion.
Fortunately, it helps to be involved in a program that tells me not to change what others are doing or thinking. Who am I to tell another that “what you’re doing is wrong”? I may think that I have a better way, but do I?
I've also found that when I am complaining, condemning and criticizing, I'm wanting others to fix a problem without contributing anything myself. I was once in a meeting in which a colleague would repeatedly say, "No, I don't like that idea". He would say this over and over when something would come up on the table for discussion. Yet, he never offered a solution--not once. Eventually, the meeting became more and more unproductive because resentments built, people quit listening, and others felt it was pointless to make any more recommendations that would meet with more criticism.
So, at times like these, in a relationship of any kind, I've found it most helpful to be tactful and open-minded. I can ask for a compromise or that someone consider another viewpoint. And in my marriage, I've learned that if I don't fall back into my fears and remain open to trust, then it's likely that what is said won't be taken as a complaint, condemnation, or criticism and be perceived as just a statement of the problem.And there's another option as well. I don't have to approve of everything or find a positive side to every situation. I can still say "No thank you" and explain my reasons. I can also write out my complaints in my journal. It seems that setting them down on paper puts things in a different light. And then I don't have to voice them out loud.
Thankfully, we were able to complete the boat project without either of us getting angry. We worked towards the solution and added in a lot of humor as we worked. And in the end, there was a sense of accomplishment, happiness and celebration. Not bad for a day's work.