Mind Matters — Our Critical Focus

There is a story that describes how a person walks into a gloriously golden gilded room, well appointed. There is a slight crack in the ceiling, however, and the person’s sight shifts to this crack, remaining focused on that, forgetting the beauty all around.

How many of us can identify with this way of focusing on the “negative” or the “broken”? I recall many years ago there was a child’s drawing of a giraffe tacked onto the wall of my office. I remember a client reacting to the drawing with a critical eye: “ooh, what an awful picture, the neck is way too long—not proportioned very well, is it?”

How is it that we focus on what is “wrong”, overriding all that is “right”? What we do is cast onto someone, or a thing outside of ourselves, the critical eye and voice that we also have of ourselves. Generally, what occurs is that the early critical eyes and voices we ourselves heard and felt early on from parents and other authority figures become ingrained in us as our own internal sound and sight. We, in turn, externalize this quiet (or not so quiet) internal critique back to the world outside us. We then become that critical eye and voice that was once focused on us.

So what to do? First of all, we can develop awareness of the nagging little voices inside that give us the upsurge of negative judgments about ourselves and others. We can watch how we watch the world! Do we only see the little cracks in the ceiling, missing the beauty all around?

Secondly we can begin to look each day for something positive to say to ourselves that can begin to override the negative noise within. Then we can begin to extend that positive regard outward to others. Imagine the change!