Chapter6-7 : “He’s wrong, and I’m right” Let’s correct our tendency to criticize others in a one-sid
Sometimes we become angry at very slight things.
Then we seek out the defects and mistakes of the person who has made us angry and do our best to criticize him or her.
If we become convinced that “He’s wrong, and I’m right,” we then go on to reason “If I’m angry, it’s his fault.
I’m not mistaken,” and continue to criticize the other person in an ever more one-sided way.
In fact, though, if we are angry, it is not because the other person is wrong.
Shakyamuni Buddha teaches: “We are angry not because the other party is wrong, but because our own desires are not fulfilled or are obstructed in some way.”
When we realize this, our habit of one-sided criticism melts away, and our feelings of anger abate.
A housewife troubled by her relationship with her husband came to me for counseling: “My husband is just no good! He’s a bungler, so he’s always late getting home from work.
And then when he is home, he hardly says a word.
He takes everything I do for him for granted—he’s a real slob.
Just being around him makes me so angry I can hardly stand it!”
The woman went on and on listing her husband’s defects and weaknesses.
She concluded by stating “That’s why I can’t help but get angry.
It’s not just me—anyone would get angry being around him!”
After hearing her out, I said “You’ve certainly had a lot to put up with.
But what would you like your husband to do to improve?”
“I’d like him to listen more to what I have to say, and to tell me whether the food I’ve served him tastes good or not. He doesn’t say a thing, so I feel ignored and get upset,” was her reply.
“I see. Your husband does seem to have a number of weak points, but I think you’re angry not so much at his weak points as at the fact that he doesn’t respond to your need for more conversation between the two of you.”
“That’s right. I have to put up with feeling so lonesome all the time!”
“Does your husband realize that the lack of conversation makes you feel this lonely?”
“No, he’s so insensitive that I don’t think he even notices.”
“Well then, why don’t you let him know your feelings straight out?”
“Well, it’s true that I tend to just criticize and not let him know my real feelings . . .”
She seemed to get less angry as she spoke these words.
The wife was angry because she felt ignored and lonely due to the fact that her husband didn’t try to listen to her.
She made a list of his many failings in order to justify her attitude that he was at fault, and she was blameless.
No matter how much she criticized his failings, she remained angry.
When we criticize others, we try to justify ourselves by using lots of arguments that come down to “I’m right, and they’re wrong.”
But if we examine the reason for our anger, it is not because the other person is wrong but rather because some need or desire of ours is not being fulfilled or is being frustrated.
When we realize this, our need to one-sidedly criticize the other person as “bad” will weaken, and we can start to make positive efforts to communicate our honest feelings, along the lines of “I wanted you to do this,” or “That made me feel bad.”