Avoid the Incessant Critic

Avoid the Incessant Critic

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We all know those people – your great uncle George, your colleague two doors down from your office, your neighbor who always seems to leave his house the same time you leave yours – who feel compelled to share their criticisms on everything and everyone.

These people divide the world into winning/losing, good/bad, pretty/ugly, smart/dumb and more. Their simplistic binary thinking boxes them into a very small existence.

  • “I can’t believe he bought that ugly house.”

  • “I can’t believe she spent a lot of money on that painting.”

  • “I can’t believe they allow their son to have purple hair.”

I can’t believe… 

We can feel compassion for people who feel the need to consistently dump on other people’s choices to feel better about themselves, but that doesn’t mean we have to be party to their incessant criticism of others.  

Their negativity seeps into our being and drains our energy. Regardless of whether we agree with them or not, their condemnations suck us into their darkness.

How to deal with these Downer Debbies and Davids?

  • Avoid them as much as possible. Prevention is the first line of defense.

  • When avoidance is impossible, try to steer the conversation elsewhere. “So how was your weekend?”

  • When steering the conversation elsewhere is impossible, reframe their comment.

    • “I hope he has many happy years in that house.”

    • “I hope she smiles every time she looks at that painting.”

    • “I hope their son grows up with lots of self-confidence and creative thinking.”

Your goal isn’t to change the critic’s mind. It’s to replace the negative with a positive in your own mind.

If all fails, you can sit at the opposite end of the holiday table from great uncle George, tell your colleague you don’t have time to chat, and walk swiftly to your car when you leave your house.

As always, take good care of yourself.

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