In this series, we’re looking at fault-finding, blame and criticizing others.
Why is fault-finding, blame and accusation detrimental to our being?
Many people live under a perpetual pile of fault-finding, blame and accusation which, when we buy into the lies told to us or told by us, can breed envy and jealousy. We find ourselves resenting or hating others because they have something we like and don’t have. It tears us down and robs us of our faith and confidence in ourselves. It robs us of our dignity. We doubt our own worth and forget our nobility. It makes us feel like second class citizens in the Kingdom of God because we believe that we’re “no good”, “not good enough” and “can’t do anything right”. It keeps us from our true destiny, which is to “know and worship God”. It makes us feel guilty (whether or not we are), condemned, ashamed of our behaviour, worthless and unclean. It leaves us feeling totally hopeless and unable to see a way out. It makes us want to give up. Sometimes we do, and life stops; we stop trying; and we can’t imagine anything good will ever come our way again. We retreat into depression and addictions.
We assume that everything will be the same in the present and the future, as it was in the past. We believe we are the cause of our calamities, and that we deserve to be punished. It traps us in the prison of self and throws away the key, and we don’t even know life could be any different.
Listening to these thoughts keeps us from becoming who God created us to be, which opens the door to disease. Our thoughts turn against us and eventually our bodies conform to our thoughts and turns against us also.
Sometimes if the nervous system is paralyzed through fear, a spiritual remedy is necessary . . . It often happens that sorrow makes one ill. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 65)
Fear, anger, worry, et cetera, are very prejudicial to health (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 107)
Fault-finding, blame and accusation keep us from healing and from having a peaceful, joyful life in God.
In the hearts of men no real love is found, and the condition is such that, unless their susceptibilities are quickened by some power so that unity, love and accord may develop within them, there can be no healing (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 171)
When we believe the lies; we isolate from God (forgetting to pray, read the Writings and participate in Baha’i Community life). We isolate from ourselves (through addictions) and from others (through estrangement and divorce), believing we can’t be forgiven. This keeps us from intimacy and ultimately ensures that we don’t have peaceful communications with anybody. In the article on Fault-Finding in the blog “Living Life Fully”, the author says:
When we find fault in something that someone else has done, we’re very often adding a negative element to our relationship with that person. We’re defining limits of trust and sharing–if I know that someone is going to find fault with everything that I do, I will not share with that person unless I’m truly seeking criticism. As fewer people are willing to share with us, we lose much of the richness that comes from and through that sharing, and we become more isolated, less integrated.
The loss of the sharing of others is one of the greatest losses we can cause ourselves, and it may even reach a point at which people just don’t want to be around us at all.
Fault-finding and criticizing, no matter what our intentions, tend to drive wedges between us and other people. A person who finds fault in everything is a person to be avoided, when all is said and done, and who among us wants other people to avoid us whenever they can? http://www.livinglifefully.com/faultfinding.htm
Separation from others could take the form of estrangement, divorce, moving away from family, friends or our Baha’i Communities. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us:
Souls are liable to estrangement. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 385)
When we become estranged, we are set up for others to accuse us. We hear their condemnation, believe it; take it in, collapse into it, agree with it, which causes a further breech.
For example, when on the advice of my therapist and with guidance from the House of Justice, I wrote a letter to my parents, letting them know that I remembered what had been done to me as a child, my mother (bitterly divorced from my father for 16 years) drove half way across the country to meet with him to discuss the letters. They invited my brothers and ex-husband to a “family meeting” to have me declared crazy and to remove my son from my care. Fortunately, my ex refused to attend, saying he didn’t believe that I was crazy or that my son was in any danger, but my brothers have remained estranged from me to this day. For years I was in torment: did I make it up or didn’t I? My parents went to their graves, and still I had no answers save what was in my heart, and the anxiety kept me from being able to work in paid employment for 20 years.
God doesn’t want us to be estranged. He wants us to be in fellowship with each other. He wants us to work together in groups. Everything is done in groups in this Faith – from the Core Activities; to the Assemblies; to marriage and family life – God loves those who work in groups.
When we judge others, we can no longer feel compassion or empathy. In his book “Love Beyond Reason”, John Ortberg says:
When we judge people, we feel less of an obligation to suffer with and for them. When we judge people, we cease to pay attention to them. (John Ortberg, Love Beyond Reason, p. 35)
Remember, thoughts lead to actions. If you start believing what your accusers tell you, you will begin making choices that are less than noble, and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For example, as a small child, I heard my mother say: “I wish she’d never been born.” It was said in a moment of frustration and I’m sure now, that she didn’t mean it. But as a child, I took it to heart, and believed it. If my mother didn’t want me, who else would? It affected my ability to make friends; to sustain any long-term relationships; and kept me from dating. It turned me away from God and for many years (before finding the Baha’i Faith), I even became an atheist. My mother’s “emotional abuse” had a lasting effect because I took offence when none was meant. The abuse I perpetrated on myself as a result of that belief lasted for 54 years. When I finally understood this, I was able to detach, forgive myself, ask God for His forgiveness and move on with my life, with a new awareness of the truth that she didn’t set out to destroy me; and that God’s love was with me all along. It was me who moved, not God.
When we’re separated from God, we also lose out on His love, His Words and His fellowship. We stop doing the things He’s asked us to do. Veil after veil comes between us and God till it’s so thick that we can’t hear His voice or feel His love anymore. We forget to turn to Him first in times of trouble and may even turn away from our Faith, and are prevented from knowing the person God created us to be.
If we don’t walk in God’s ways, we’re trapped inside the prison of self and listening to the wrong voice. This is not a place we want to be! ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us:
Alas for them! They have deluded themselves with a fable, and to indulge their appetites they have done away with their own selves. They gave up everlasting glory in exchange for human pride, and they sacrificed greatness in both worlds to the demands of the insistent self. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 259)
As long as we stay in the prison of self, God can’t reach us or help us out. We have to meet Him half way and turn to Him first.
Release comes by making of the will a Door through which the confirmations of the Spirit come . (Abdu’l-Bahá, Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 120)
For more articles in this series:
Fault-Finding, Blame and Accusation . . . :