As introduced yesterday, let’s have a look at the Horsemen called Criticism. If you missed the introduction, you can find it HERE.

Criticism is hurtful, and a lack of tact. It is judgemental and personal. When we critic, we often directly attack the personality or the character of our partner. It is not about what they did, it is about who they are. It makes us feel inadequate. It confirms our inner-voices that we are worthless and that we are wrong to be that way.

How Criticism can look like in the day to day:

“You are always late, now I am embarrassed in front of our friends”

“You are just like your dad, always hiding in the garage”

“You are selfish, you friends are your priority and you do not care about me”

“We never have fun together, you are boring”

It might feel familiar… We all have been giving or receiving criticisms. And it is never a good sign. It often comes up after building resentment, which means that the main reason for us being upset, is not what we are criticising. It is something deeper, something like might happened a while ago already.

When we catch ourselves blaming and using words like “always”, it is a great time to assess what is really going on underneath.

According to Gottman, Criticism’s antidotes is called “Gentle Start-Up“. What he means by that is that instead of attacking verbally our partner, and making them wrong, we could use “I” statement about how the situation makes us feel. Going back to our previous examples:

“I feel embarassed when we are late when we meet our friends, can we both do an effort to be on time tonight?”

“I feel lonely when we do not interact much. I am afraid you try to avoid me when you spend the afternoon in the garage.”

“I do not feel important to you when you spend more time with your friend. I feel you prefer to be with them that with me.”

“I am bored right now. Can we have fun?”

As you might have noticed, it requires being vulnerable to stop criticising. We need to stop focusing on the other and focus on our own self. Then express our feelings and needs. That requires self-awareness, strength of character and honesty. It is so much easier to blame someone!

That is it for today! Simple, yet powerful! Tomorrow we will look at Contempt.

Thank you for your time and reading my post.

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