Giving and receiving criticism – however necessary and well-meaning it may be – is difficult for most people. We try to avoid it whenever we can, but unfortunately being able to respond maturely to criticism is an essential life skill.
Nobody is perfect. We are all imperfect beings who will make mistakes over and over again. Learning from our mistakes and having the courage to correct our flaws is our way of growing. It is by fleeing them that we remain stagnant. As the saying goes, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. This vicious circle is a trap that keeps many people unhappy and dissatisfied.
The problem is that, even for the well-meaning, most people lack objectivity about themselves. Some are far too judgmental, constantly worrying about every action they take, regretting every choice they make. Others are not critical enough, firmly believing they are incapable of faults, and whatever happens is the result of bad luck or the cruelty or incompetence of others.
People at both extremes are difficult to be around. They make poor colleagues, friends and lovers. Those who are overly self-critical appear negative and fragile, often causing those around them to walk on eggshells for fear of hurting their feelings. On the other hand, those who cannot be criticized will come across as arrogant and self-centered, which will cause resentment.
So, in order to maintain healthy relationships, we must possess a healthy level of self-esteem and self-awareness that allows us to see our own flaws without falling apart or erecting barriers so high and thick that we become fortresses. . To establish these qualities, we must be able to honestly criticize ourselves.
What follows is reading for the collective to explore how we can practice the art of self-criticism in a way that leads to growth and maturity.
How can we learn to see our own faults objectively?
Card: 7 of Pentacles
Traditionally, this card is about investments and the patience needed for those investments to grow. Whenever this card pops up, I think of gardeners planting seeds and watering them every day. They understand that they won’t see results right away. In the meantime, they are also aware that the seeds may not grow to maturity, either due to mistakes on their part or because nature has chosen not to cooperate. And yet, this uncertainty does not prevent them from investing fully in their work.
We can remedy our own shortcomings in the same way as planting a garden. Think of our flaws and mistakes as weeds and pests that we need to watch out for and get rid of as soon as we notice them. They are an obstacle to our goals, and every goal worth pursuing has obstacles that we must overcome. It is an inevitable part of the race that we have to face.
What is the barrier I need to be aware of in order to provide me with honest feedback?
Card: The Magician
Speaking of obstacles, the magician appears in this reading as an obstacle to which we must pay attention.
Although this card generally speaks of possessing skills and having the will to initiate, there are times when this card is less productive. In fact, some older tarot decks depict this character as a street performer and charlatan, using tricks instead of real skill to impress.
This card is a reminder that self-criticism requires extra work once a problem is identified. When I was younger, I thought that by simply acknowledging my flaws I was showing responsibility, and my self-improvement work often ended there. Now I see that such actions had the opposite effect. Acknowledging and apologizing for mistakes is only the first step. If we stop there, our apologies are really nothing more than asking others to forgive our mistakes.
How can I grow as a result of self-criticism?
Map: wheel of fortune
The wheel of fortune can bring good or bad luck. In other words, the result cannot be guaranteed.
Although it’s far from certain, I think it’s a great ending to our reading. One can commit to improve only on the condition of being promised a pleasant result. There are mistakes we make that will have lasting consequences and character flaws that will take a lifetime to correct. Knowing that our best efforts might not translate into a satisfactory outcome can be frightening, if not downright disheartening. But having the courage to move forward despite uncertainty is, in itself, a measure of growth and maturity.
Although nothing in life is guaranteed, accepting responsibility for our own growth is the best chance we have for success. To do this, we must be willing to admit our own shortcomings and find the will to correct them.