No one likes to be criticized, fairly or not.

It’s always difficult to deal with, and it can hurt. Whether criticism is intended to be helpful or harmful, you can use it positively.

Evaluate the critic—is it a good friend, a kind person, a mentor? Criticism from any of these is likely to be constructive, and you can probably trust it and learn from it. Is the criticism from a competitive rival? Then use its mirror image -- it's probably something powerful about you that threatens the rival. Is it from a lover or intimate person? Then it can hurt a lot, because intimates know where your soft spots are—and, they often project their own fears onto you.

Whatever the source of the criticism, ignore it for a few hours or a day, until the sting has subsided, and then evaluate its usefulness to you. If a trusted mentor is offering constructive criticism, it may be a great gift to you, once you have absorbed it. Stretch yourself a bit, and look at the comment from an objective viewpoint, and see how much truth you think it holds. Above all, be true to yourself, and know that your own good opinion of yourself is most valuable if it is based on truth.

Another good way is to use a sense of humor: if you can come up with a clever funny remark that diffuses the criticism that is always the most effective way to disarm it. Alternatively, give an “adult time out” to anyone who is negative and critical: emotionally retreat into politeness. Be very pleasant, but distant—say “Yes, please” “No, thank you” and respond politely to any request, but don't share any personal information. This usually causes a negative person to snap out of it. Ignore any negative thing that is said—just treat it as if it didn't happen. In this way, you don't reward it, and the other person will eventually stop.

2205 hours
Monday 12 December 2011

Acceptance is relieving

It's true that often it's hard to understand why someone acts a certain way, says certain things, or entertains certain thoughts. We're all unique individuals, with our own backgrounds, experiences and motivations. What works for one person, may not work for the other and vice versa.

Acceptance is often said more times than it is preformed. Saying that you accept something is easy, but actually believing it and making is so doesn’t always follow. Imagine two people, sitting together at dinner. Imagine then in a constant state of unrest, quarreling about everything and anything. I imagine that this isn’t that difficult to imagine, as it is very common. If you were to ask one another, they’d say that they accept each other for who they are, but upon closer inspection it appears that they seem to fight about who they are all the time.

The fact is things are never black and white and everyone has their own definitions of right and wrong. We may think we know the “right” way, but maybe its just “our” way. Try placing yourself in their shoes, and get to know why they feel the way they do. You don’t have to agree, but at least understand why they’re so adamant about how they act.

I find it extraordinary that some people never seem to be judgmental. What a quality! They seem to have reached a level of tolerance, acceptance, and compassion that many of us still have to improve on. They listen, observe, and are open to communication - no matter what.

So, instead of focusing on why something didn't go the way we wanted to, why don't we just “stop sweating the small stuff” and enjoy the day. After all, the other person may be right!

2155 hours
Saturday 26 November 2011

Save tax money, be a Pakistani

I once heard an anonymous saying that ‘there is always death and taxes; however, death doesn't get worse every year.’ I am now beginning to believe that this anonymous genius must have lived in Pakistan. But then again, most of geniuses either are born in Pakistan or lived here.

But talking of taxes first, why pay them when we know it will go in somebody’s Swiss account or to another’s son’s prize bonds business. In a country where the president, prime minister and his cabinet, with long lists of local and foreign assets, pay either ‘zero’ or petty taxes, one can guess how seriously the overall business of tax collection will be taken. Just pick the love of all, our president as an example. Most of us are already aware of extensive list of his local and international holdings. Although, the Lahore High Court will have to wait for December of another incarnation or two, to get a verified list of his real assets and we have no way of precisely confirming the authenticity of our renowned list, but there is little doubt in my mind that our list may be quite close to being authentic considering the massive corruption that has plagued Pakistan in his previous two tenures in power.

In any case, despite of all the government borrowings and tax collections, all we probably see will be dykes not repaired for another Monsoon, power generation projects getting further delayed and inflation soaring up further.

But that’s not why most of Pakistanis don’t pay taxes. Most of us don’t pay taxes, because we are geniuses and I can assure you we have abundant supply of the sort. You come across a genius in every other corner here - breaking queues, swindling, enforcing their values on others, resolving to violence for any cause they don’t quite understand. A Pakistani genius, would basically, get his hands on anything for which he is not held accountable, including his wife and the taxes.

Pay your taxes, be a responsible citizen of your country. But if the country is Pakistan, the motto is slightly amended to ‘pay your taxes, but then only you’re responsible for your stupidity.’

Bushra Naz
09:57 hours
13 October 2011

Being righteous for all the wrong reasons

Another murder, and here we got all the reasons to demonstrate again that we don’t know anything about tolerance . As a matter of fact, we don’t need to think on our own as all our thinking is already done by some very ‘pious’ people. Ones, who we think, know the word of God, because they have beards, trousers up their ankles, beads in their hands and they happened to join the street mosque for delivering summons. These are more than enough reasons to blindly follow someone. We don’t need to know how much research they have done on their religion and how much time they have spent on understanding its philosophy. Whether they are well researched, or they have always been very much consumed with the pronunciation of words from holy book all along and memorizing them with least emphasis on meanings. They have been too busy learning the words that they just didn't understand the meanings of. 

Why do we follow them? Because we think they know the word of God that we think…we don’t know. So, we try to quote references we hear from the 'pious' people.
Most of my apparently moderate acquaintances sometimes seem to know a lot about religion. They sometimes can label others good or bad in an instance, giving references from a holy book to prove their point. Impressed by their knowledge on the subject, when you ask where is it coming from? You come to know they haven’t completed reading the mentioned holy book once with meanings, and the references are coming from the Friday sermons. Not that I have anything against Friday sermons, but when the majority uses a holy book to just quote references when they feel like dominating the conversation, understanding its philosophy is out of question. And then things like murders could be justified in the name of Islam.
Bigoted treatment with minorities is opposed to the practice and teachings of Holy Prophet. Imagine yourself being in minority and imagine being treated in this manner just on the basis of your religion. Haven't our own people forced others in minority to hate our religion? I understand freedom of speech should not be about doing or saying things that could result in hurting the feelings of a vast number of people and instigate violence and I’m not justifying blasphemy. But I want to justify, ‘with the privilege of being in majority, comes a test of tolerance’. And we’re failing this test all along. My favourite verse from Punjabi mystic poet, that all of us look up to for his endeavors for interfaith harmony:
Masjid dha de, mandir dha de, dha de jo kucch dainda
Par kisi da dil na dhain, Rab dilan vich rehnda.
Tear down the mosque and the temple; break everything in sight
do not break a person’s heart, it is there that God resides (Bulley Shah).
Bushra Naz
23:49 hours 4 March 2011