Everyone wants to change something; something about themselves, about how the world works, or something in their community.
Many of us want to change for the better - to be more fit, to use less plastic, to be less destructive to the environment.
Yet many of us also criticize others when their efforts aren’t perfect.
Some topics are taboo - we don’t often criticize those trying to lose weight when we see them eating poorly, or skipping a workout.
But for many other things, when someone tells us they are trying to make a change, we question the exception.
“I saw you use a plastic straw last week.”
“Didn’t you just take a plane to go on vacation?”
“You ate a burger for lunch last week.”
We feel inadequate when someone else is making a positive change, so we seek to undermine their efforts.
We have difficulty making changes ourselves, so it’s easier to find imperfection in the efforts of others than to learn and understand and make our own changes.
Fight this habit.
How does it help others to make them feel shameful or inadequate for trying something new? For trying to be better?
You may believe that it holds them to a higher standard, that you’re doing them a favor. This is wrong. They haven’t asked for your opinion or your advice. They haven’t asked you what you think they could improve.
Instead, just encourage the effort they’re making.
Reinforce their success: “That’s great! Good for you for making the effort. I’d like to learn more about it.”
Encourage them to share what they’ve learned. Do your own research.
Save your criticism for those who choose to cause harm, who choose to make negative choices.
Who deserves your lobbying efforts - your friend who has good intentions, or the person trading profits for harm?
There are bigger problems in the world. Go fight those.