How can I help you make it better?

There was no, “Hi, how are you?” There was no, “Gosh, you haven’t been as present as you were before – what’s going on?” There was no inquiry into my life. There was only, “A few of us were wondering, what are you going to do next? Don’t you think it’s time to find a replacement?”

All I hear is:

“You’re not doing enough.”

“You’re not responsive enough.”

“You should be doing more.”

“You should be acting more.”

“You should be giving us more of your time.”

“You’re not a good leader, and we need a change.”

Accepting full-time work was a hard choice. I knew that things were going to shift and have to shuffle, but I wasn’t sure of the various impacts. Suddenly, I was giving one thing more time than I ever had before, while I was neglecting another thing I had previously devoted much of my time. And, now, the venues in which I split my time have crashed into each other, and the ensuing flames are not bringing comfort.

And, while everything feels like it’s burning around me, instead of firefighters, I have critics decrying why I started the flames.

So, I bought my reflection tool. I purchased my own copy of Safe People. The last time I read it was five years ago from the borrowed library copy. I have recommended it to others so often, ironically, I have started to forget the kernels. So, it was time to make it permanent on my shelf.

Cloud and Townsend tell us that the “critics” among us

“take a parental role with everyone they know. They are judgmental, speak the truth without love, and have no room for grace or forgiveness… (pg 22)

“Critics often deeply love truth and righteousness. Because they are clear thinkers, they can be good people to go to for information.” (pg 23)

This was a mistake I made. I mistook these clear thinkers, as well, for compassionate people. And, I confided in them. But, when I slipped, I felt their wrath. Cloud and Townsend further explain that

“If you’re attracted to critical people, you may find relief in their clarity of thought and purity of vision. But you’ll also find yourself guilt-ridden, compliant, and unable to make mistakes without tremendous anxiety.” (pg 23)

At which point, I nearly yelled to another our need for compassion. Ironically, as I question her ability to be “safe” for me, she recommends an interesting book I have put on my to-read list: Tattoos on the Heart.

And, then, as if to prove I am seeking more compassion my play list queues Jane Siberry and “Calling All Angels”, and the only refrain I ever here when I listen to this song.

Calling all Angels, calling all Angels
Walk me through this one, don’t leave me alone
Calling all Angels, calling all Angels
We’re trying, we’re hoping, but we’re not sure why

And, just a bit later, Bon Iver plays “Skinny Love”, a new favorite, and again, a chorus I can’t shake.

And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind

Confrontation aside, it is often easier to notice all the typos, to shortly call out the mistaken dates, to vent in front of others about the perceived misdeeds of another.

It’s harder to ask if they noticed the typo or the mistaken date. It’s harder to go up to someone and tell them you think they are doing a bad job. Especially if the gig is unpaid.

But, what I was hoping for is what we were. I was hoping that it would be prefaced with a question or two, such as, “How are you?” I was hoping it would have been prefaced with some intuition, “Gosh, you haven’t been as present as you were, is everything okay?”

And, because I train myself to take things at face value. And, because there is so much to keep track of (I have over 600 unread emails in my email boxes (yes plural), right now), if it’s not a direct question, if it gets lost on a message board thread, then I might incorrectly perceive it to be okay, even though it’s not. And, the irony abounds, that in this day and age of communication choices, we choose only one or two (email or text). And we give up and say the other is unresponsive if they don’t answer the only two choices we chose to use.

All because it’s easier to critique. It’s easier to say you did wrong rather than, “How can I help you make it better?”