Whenever You Are About To Find Fault With Someone, Ask Yourself The Following Question – What Fault Of Mine Most Nearly Resembles The One I Am About To Criticize: Marcus Aurelius

the quote "Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize" written against a blue background

I read this the other day and felt an itch, I would grand it up a little bit by calling it a philosophical version of Hell’s itch. Suffice to say that the itch is painful.

Fun fact #1

In my life so far, I am yet to meet a person that likes to be criticized. And I know people that hate the word ‘criticism’  more than COVID.

Fun Fact #2

I am yet to meet a person that has not criticized at least one person in their life.

If you are an ordinary Earthling like me, there is a good chance that both fun facts may apply to you too.

We don’t like people finding faults in our behavior and pointing them out to us. And there is a good possibility that we disregard the opinion as well as the person that enlightens us with this critical feedback.

Sometimes things get worse when someone points a fault that we know we have. Ironically the way we use to respond to this criticism is holding resentment or criticizing the person that pointed out our flaw.

So what is it about this whole criticism game? Why do we so readily dish it out when we can not take it? Why does abstaining from criticism feel like such a Herculean task?

The reason is simple.

We love ourselves, sometimes to a fault, plus we all have ego that gets the better of us from time to time.

After all, the world revolves around us. Doesn’t it?

Enter Marcus Aurelius.

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?” 

Now this is a very twisted game. Instead of a quick-fix to the criticism problem, when I can simply attack a person when they attack me, feeling a fleeting yet instant second of win, I have to think before I retort now.

Man, that’s a tough thing to do.

A conversation that could earlier go like this:

Dave: What an idiot! How many times do I have to tell you how to do this before you can do it yourself?

Paul: If you are such an Einstein, why dont u do it yourself?

Is now going to look like this:

Dave: What an idiot! How many times do I have to tell you how to do this before you can do it yourself?

Paul: Yes, you are right. I should have done it myself. I was being as lazy as you.

OR

Paul: Yeah, you are right, I guess I am as lazy as you. Let me help you out (same as the last one , minus the sass)

You and I both know that this entails  a lot of work.

And a hell lot more deep breathing.

But I see two very obvious advantages of going through with this exercise:

1 – I am not going to retort by saying something nasty and then simmer in guilt for days on end.

2 – My friend whom I did the favor of not criticizing, would probably take the cue and not be an ass next time.

Basically. it all boils down to patience.

Next time I am ready to spit venom, I might take a deep breath and selfishly count the days I am going to simmer in guilt of the aftermath of a criticism bout.

That, I hope, will stop me in my tracks.

There is more to ‘look before you leap’ than I thought.

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