For years growing up, I found myself continually frustrated and in desperate need for the book of life that everyone else seemed to have a copy of, but I did not.

You may have heard of this manual as well. It’s the one many refer to when they tell you all the things you should or shouldn’t have done every time you messed up or found yourself in a dilemma.

Oh how I yearned to have this prized possession in my life, so I could be happy and successful like everyone else and not feel criticized on a daily basis.

It wasn’t until much later in my life, and after much soul searching, that I began to look back at all this advice I have been given, particularly the unsolicited advice, and saw a pattern emerge.

Many of those who were eager to give me counsel about my finances didn’t really have a lot of money.

Most of the people who would tell me what I should or shouldn’t do in a relationship either weren’t in one or were quite miserable in their own.

And a lot of career employees would be emphatic to share their thoughts on what I needed to do to start my own business.

Self-help author and speaker Wayne Dyer once said: “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

Most of us would like to believe that when we open our eyes each day and look out into the world that we are seeing life through a window, when we are really looking in a mirror.

Many times, the people in your life who feel compelled to criticize or judge you are often seeing an aspect of themselves that they don’t like, or do not yet see.

Think of the last person who accused you of being controlling, stubborn or maybe even manipulative. Aren’t they actually trying to get their own way in that moment?

They are not bad people, just unaware of their own unconscious hypocrisy.

This is good news if you find yourself struggling with the negative emotions that come from a barrage of criticism you might be experiencing in your life.

The bad news however, is that the reverse is also true.

If you find yourself constantly complaining about someone in the world who is not as you think they should be, you too, are most likely unaware.

Their behavior may be more intense, more frequent or demonstrated in a different way, but that person is showing you a piece of yourself and your own hypocrisy.

Entertaining this notion can be an intimidating thing when we first look into that mirror as it can easily reveal our own perceived flaws and failures, and the feelings of inadequacy we associate with them.

The window seems safer.

But over time we discover that the window is actually the scarier view, for as long as we are looking out it, we are powerless to do anything with what we see.

What are your thoughts? (comments below)


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  1. Theo says

    One of the most powerful columns you’ve written yet. Loved it – so true!


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