We cannot be a help to others until we are a help to ourselves first. Far too often, broken people who need healing themselves are the main ones who like to criticize others and like to appear like they exude strength—when it’s really their weakness that radiates brightest. You cannot lead until you lead within yourself first. You cannot criticize until you have engaged in a comprehensive self-critique first. Never try to seem like you have made it to the mountaintop on your own, especially when you know that your ride to the mountaintop has been made possible by those who have assisted you.
Your critiques of others need to come from a spirit of compassion, while still maintaining a commitment to truth. Always make sure that what you have to say is guided by a desire to promote uplift. I am not contending that uplift has to always come from the most polite words and actions—uplift does not always come from polite words and actions—but your words and actions should have the purpose of moving people upward.
Don’t overlook your weaknesses and flaws when you are critiquing others. Your weaknesses and flaws can be the very sources of the problem with how you are critiquing others.
Guard the way that you perceive others with great care. The way you perceive others can simply be a product of how you view yourself. People are different so you have to understand that you cannot impose your values, paradigms, and expectations for yourself on others. This is what makes the world such a beauty place to live. We all do things and view things differently—We are simply different! Although we are all different in many ways, we are all united by the reality that we are human. We must never underestimate the power of what being human can do for us and the limitations of what being human means.
I’m all for people judging others—have at it! I just want people to make sure that they have engaged in close examinations of themselves first. When you have an honest evaluation of yourself first, you will offer yourself an opportunity to see why you say the things you say to others, why you view people the way you do, why you question them the way you, and why you think what they are doing is wrong or right.
Spend some time with yourself. Learn yourself more. Learn how you might have to move beyond the limitations of yourself to understand others and to understand why they don’t do and say the things you do. Take a moment to rise above what you would have them to do and say and embrace the value of what it is they do and say.
The only way that you are going to get some of those inner problems and demons that you battle is to allow yourself to undergo a serious comprehensive self-critique. Always ground your serious self-critiques in truth. Be willing to acknowledge and embrace the lessons that you learn from self-critiques that are truly grounded in truth.
Love yourself for who you are. If other people don’t love you for simply who you are, then get away from them because they don’t matter.
Even though you don’t have to share everything with everybody to be a real person and an open book, I recommend that you be more transparent with people about why you are revealing what you do disclose to them. The reason why I recommend this is it helps clear thinking people to comprehend that there could be a vital personal reason involving your safety that is responsible for why you don’t divulge everything down to the most microscopic detail to them.
When we look inward first and not outward first, then we will begin to gain a better understanding about why things may appear the way they do. Inward evaluations bring us to an understanding of physical, social, and emotional realities that we never might have considered and discovered without true and comprehensive self-examinations.
By looking within before you look outward, you might just find what you have been missing all of your life. You might just find the answers to what you have been searching for all this time. You might even begin to muster the courage to simply be yourself.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison