Criticism Is Not Problem Solving

Maria HillEmotional And Mental Health, Personal Development, Social Smarts2 Comments

problem solving

Inner Critic © by anthom

Much has been written about criticism and the inner critic.

So why another article?

It seems to me that we take criticism for granted as an OK thing to do.

Perhaps it is our consumer culture run amok. Isn’t complaining how you get something done?

Maybe to some but I think we need a rethink about this topic.

Is Criticism Really Problem Solving?

I don’t think so.

Criticism is not problem solving. Criticism often feels intense, but criticism can be deceptive because it feels as if we are doing something when we are criticizing someone or something. However, more often than not we are not really doing anything when we criticize except putting our displeasure on someone else.

I am not suggesting that all criticism is a mistake – far from it. Without displeasure and criticism we could not improve and progress.

However, all criticism is not equal. In our consumer culture, convenience is an expectation and the absence of it often treated as a problem. This is one  kind of criticism that deserves questioning. Were we promised a convenient world?

Criticism And The Need To Be Right

Criticism can often feel strange or a little bit unreal. After all, the sun does not rise and judge us. The wind does not criticize us. A red light will not mouth off at us when we are driving through it. So criticism is our personal expression of some sort of disharmony, dissonance or displeasure.

Implicit in any criticism or judgment is the thinking that there is a right way to think, be, or do something. This is another form of criticism that deserves questioning.

One of the biggest difficulties people have in relinquishing their critical views is that they may feel that their point of view is perfectly reasonable – and they may be right. However, the result of being right and reasonable creates an obstacle to problem solving. Instead of seeking solutions to problems by opening themselves to ideas, many people turn others into the “problem” and are off and running trying to fix their identified “problem”.

Curiosity: The Missing Link

So what is wrong with this picture?  For starters, something is missing.

One thing that is missing is curiosity. Curiosity is a wonderful way to find a bridge between perceptual differences. Curiosity is about possibility whereas criticism is often about lack.  Curiosity can help us see better when we are willing to learn.

Curiosity takes a fixed position and opens it up to new ideas. It enables an individual to engage a conflict with beginners mind and find a solution to whatever the problem is. Being curious softens self righteous and entrenched positions.

Criticism often comes from a fixed perspective because it assumes that a “right” answer in advance so most differences will be seen as wrong.

A fixed position is often outcome oriented so an individual with a fixed perspective will have more difficulty understanding an unexpected result than someone who recognizes the fluid nature of processes and the potential and likelihood of different outcomes.

HSPs And Criticism

Highly sensitive people are frequently faced with many critics because of their different perceptions, talents, and processing capabilities.  They will often be misunderstood.  By trying to shift the interpersonal ground from criticism to problem solving  by inviting curiosity they have a greater chance of improved outcomes for themselves and others.

For Additional Information:

Toxic Criticism

Toxic Criticism and Developing Creativity


Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution and HSP Health. She is the creator of several courses for sensitives: The Whole Self Course – soul centric psychology and the highly sensitive person and The Foundation Course For Sensitives covering the trait, important cultural frameworks, work and career, relationships, energy mastery and Ayurveda. They can be found here. She is a long time meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.

2 Comments on “Criticism Is Not Problem Solving”

  1. Thanks for this. I’ve been feeling mired in self-criticism this week and have been trying to open it up with curiosity. This helps–reinforcement to the trying.

    1. One thing to keep in mind, Renae, is that faultfinding is not constructive. If you have ever been around someone who finds fault all the time, they do not really have constructive ideas – they generally just do not like something. That is not enough actually, so in one way, faultfinders do not go far enough by considering alternatives or the full picture about what they are complaining about.

      What you can do is simply observe when something works or does not work and consider new possibilities. I ask the universe all the time “What am I missing?” that way I get help without having to know it all and I do not have to be so hard on myself, although sometimes I still am.

      I hope this helps,
      Maria

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