The most common reaction when we see that someone has faults is to blame them. Nothing more natural. But beyond that, isn’t there a better way? What if we could make good use of the shortcomings we detect in others?
The others are only the distorted mirror of what we are
There is a universality of human behavior. Very often, a defect is a bad habit that we have taken and that becomes a part of our character. The defect that we observe in someone is undoubtedly the other self that we could have been if we had given in to the same habits and undergone the same influences. This other that we look at must help us to carry out an introspection on the same qualities that we believe we have.
The necessary introspection
When you criticize someone, you take away energy that could have been used to improve yourself. The wisest people are often the most silent. So why don’t they criticize like most people do? They have probably internalized the idea that criticism can be a waste of energy. When we are outraged by a behavior, we can use that outrage to ask ourselves if we have the same faults. The introspection it provokes can be one of the reasons for the wise person’s continual improvement. Continuing to love people despite their faults also requires a great deal of energy. One must distinguish the sinner from the sin; one cannot love and reject one person at a time.
Strive to develop the corresponding qualities
The best way to fight injustice is through justice. The best way to fight lies is by telling the truth yourself. Here we do not say fight the unjust or the liar. We are all liars or unjust at one time or another, either because we are mistaken or because of ignorance. The people who have educated us have distilled truth and justice so that we change. That is why it is better to attack the evil at the root rather than the people who embody it to revolutionize the world. To change the world is to change what is in your heart. It is the daily and silent effort to become a better person, without anyone seeing it. It’s fighting the turmoil that runs through us in order to bring joy and to be able to project a little light to others. All these efforts, even if we don’t see them, they affect people and could change the face of the globe if everyone did. The problem is that there are also just as many silent and unseen actions that can have the opposite effect. The small, selfish or unjust acts that we commit tip the balance in the other direction. This is why there is no such thing as a harmless act and why we contribute in our own way, by our thoughts, our actions, our words to the harmony of the world.
Virtues have collateral effects as well as vices
If you show honesty, you will start a positive spiral that can attract other qualities, such as courage or self-sacrifice. Unfortunately, this rule is also true for vices. If you have a habit of lying, it is not uncommon for you to have developed related flaws as well.
The 60-day challenges
Do you want to change deeply? Nothing like setting yourself a daily challenge on one of your cardinal values for about two months (which will allow time for this challenge to become a habit). If you want to become more honest, which can be materialized by not telling any more lies, why not commit to not telling any more lies (except on rare occasions, for which you will have to define the conditions) for 60 days, every day. Next, tackle another cardinal quality you want to have. Do this gradually, especially if you have a deeply ingrained flaw. Rome wasn’t built in a day! By doing so, each year you will be able to work on 6 core values and you could do the same the following year so that you can check if you have managed to keep the quality you worked on the year before. 6 values is already a very large number, and as mentioned above, each value has collateral effects, so if you have 6 strong cardinal values, you may have hundreds of other underlying values as a result.
Here is a list of values (and their associated definitions, suggested by http://eduka.free.fr/education/vertushumaines/texte/listevertus.html) that you could choose from. You can also add values that are not listed here.
To maintain, with a few people already known by a community of interests of professional or recreational type, regular personal contacts, born of a mutual sympathy, each one being interested in the other and in his progress.
Attendance at work
To do diligently what is necessary to gradually reach a natural and supernatural maturity, and to help others to do the same, in daily work as in other tasks.
Undertaking and carrying out various actions that may seem unwise, being convinced, after a calm reflection on reality, with the possibilities and risks it entails, that one can achieve a genuine good.
Recognizing the influence of various factors on feelings or behavior; delving into the meaning of each of these factors and their interaction and helping others to do the same; taking them into account before acting.
In situations not conducive to our betterment, resisting harmful influences, enduring all difficulties and striving to act positively to overcome obstacles and undertake large-scale undertakings.
To act joyfully and unselfishly in favor of others, aware of the value of what we bring to them and without considering the effort it will require.
Recognizing our own inadequacies, qualities and abilities and using them for good, without trying to attract attention or seeking applause.
Continually striving to give others their due, so that they can fulfill their duties and exercise their rights (to life, to moral and cultural goods, to material goods), as individuals – parents, children, citizens, teachers, or leaders – and to make others behave in the same way.
Accepting the bonds involved in relationships with others – parents, friends, superiors, countries, institutions – in such a way as to uphold and strengthen the values that these bonds represent.
To accept the decisions of those who hold and exercise authority, assuming them as our own, provided they do not conflict with justice, and to carry out promptly what has been decided, striving to interpret faithfully the will of the one who commands.
To have reasonable confidence in one’s own abilities, in the help that others can give us and in their abilities. Thus, to be able to discern, first, the positive elements and possibilities for improvement that each situation offers and, second, the difficulties and obstacles that oppose this improvement, taking advantage of all that is favorable and facing the rest with a sporting and joyful spirit.
To follow a logical procedure, necessary to achieve the set objectives, in the organization of our affairs, the use of our time and the realization of our activities, on our own initiative and without the need to be reminded.
Once known or sensed the difficulties to be overcome or the desired goods which are awaited, to support with serenity all the possible inconveniences.
To recognize what a country has given and continues to give. To give it the honor and service it deserves, defending and reinforcing the values it represents, while sharing the noble aspirations of all countries.
Once we have made our decision, to implement the necessary means to achieve the goal, despite internal or external difficulties, even if the motivation weakens over time.
In our work and in our relations with others, to take note of information that we judge in the light of right and true criteria: before making a decision, to measure the positive and negative consequences, for oneself and for others, then to act or abstain, sticking to the decision taken.
Recognizing the value of one’s privacy and respecting the privacy of others. Protecting one’s privacy from the gaze of others; rejecting that which may alter it and revealing it only for one’s own good or that of others.
Respect for others
To act or refrain, as the case may be, in such a way as not to harm oneself or others, but to do good according to one’s rights, one’s condition and the circumstances of one’s life.
Taking responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions, whether deliberate – that is, resulting from a decision made or accepted (or not) – in such a way that others benefit as much as possible or, at least, do not suffer. At the same time, make sure that others behave in the same way.
Making our usual behavior – the way we speak, dress, act – conform to our true intentions, so that others can know us as we are; being what we seem.
To reveal with clarity, when appropriate, to the right person at the right time, everything we have done or seen, everything we think or feel about our personal situation or that of others.
Creating and taking advantage of opportunities to connect with all kinds of people, successfully communicating with each one through a genuine interest in who they are, what they say, what they do, what they think and how they feel.
Adapting one’s behaviour to people or situations with speed, without abandoning one’s own criteria for action.
To distinguish between what is reasonable and what is not; to use with moderation one’s five senses, one’s time, one’s money, one’s efforts, in accordance with right and true criteria.