Our criticisms of others can be a deep well of self-understanding and change. Especially in our close relationships.

Here is someone you love… and yet they drive you crazy because they… leave their socks on the floor… don’t listen… can’t keep track of their keys… Oh, the list is endless!

It’s not my department to suggest how you might talk to that other person about what is bothering you.

What I find fascinating is how I can use my criticisms of the other person as a jumping-off place for my own inner exploration and personal growth.

Ann’s Story:

My partner Joe asked me for computer help late at night (for the umpteenth time) and I blew up. I paused… and I thought, “I’d better try my own method here!” So I tried rephrasing my feelings using the words “something in me.”

“It drives something in me crazy when Joe asks me for computer help late at night.”

Then I said Hello to that part of me and let it know I’d like to get to know it better.

What’s very powerful here is to go beyond the obvious, easy answer. “Because he needs to learn to do it himself!” will not bring new growth and change.

So I paused… and took my time… and asked, “What might this part of me be worried about for me?”

I felt a vulnerability under the irritation. Part of me was worried that if he can’t take care of his computer stuff, then when I really need him, he won’t be able to take care of me.

I let that young part of me know I heard it… and felt my breathing relax. That was all it needed… and I cheerfully went off to help Joe put a file into Dropbox. It’s not always that easy… but it can be!

What were those two steps again?

  1. Start with the criticism, and then re-phrase it with the words “something in me.” “It drives something in me crazy when…”
  2. Pause… take your time… and ask, “What might this part of me be worried about for me?”

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