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Dear Kat,

I loved our conversation the other night about criticism.

I read recently how damaging criticism is — that we need 5 compliments to offset a single criticism. But any criticism is an attempt to change the other person, to say that they are not perfect, that you don’t accept certain shapes or sounds or behaviors. The other person may compromise, attack in return, withdraw, or brush it off, but whatever the response, the action is pernicious; it makes one guarded, it eats at the soul. Every criticism of another is a denial of who they are, and a non-acceptance of the same. I’ve broken up with a number of people feeling that I had lost myself; I no longer knew who I was or what I wanted.

This has an effect on the critic, too. They are yearning after something, they cannot live in the world as it is, they cannot accept their partner as is, they want more better, different. In short, they are captured by the past, and cannot be present.


I know you much prefer positive conversations, so let me talk about the opposite. With you, there is nothing like that. I feel so at liberty to be myself, and this co-exists with a companionship that is so free and easy. There is a peculiar paradox here: by being still, by not struggling for what we think we want, we get closer and closer. It is as if we are naturally drawn to one another, yet any action causes a movement away from the center. The more still we are, the more we partake in a harmonious flow through life.


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