Don’t criticise is about not criticising others in order to feel better about yourself. Accept people as they are, warts and all, and remember that you’re not perfect either.
The original lojong slogan is: Don’t talk about injured limbs which asks you to notice those moments when you subtly, or not so subtly, judge others and reject them, and to recognise it as an opportunity to practice compassion. It also applies to moments when you’re irritated by somebody else’s behaviour, perhaps because they’ve let you down or hurt you in some way.
This doesn’t mean you put up with bad behaviour or avoid challenging somebody who is being abusive or difficult. But there are ways of doing this without being hurtful. When somebody behaves badly it’s usually because they’re suffering, and criticism will just make the situation worse.
There’s a story behind every slip of the tongue, every mistake, every failure. Nobody is perfect and everybody is doing the best they can under the circumstances. This slogan is encouraging you to accept others as they are, just as you would like people to accept you as you are.
Apply this slogan to your writing practice by remembering not to criticise yourself in a way that is harsh or destructive. It doesn’t mean you should avoid critiquing your work or tell yourself that every word you write is pure gold. It’s just a reminder to be constructive.
Another way to work with this slogan is look at your characters. There may be certain weaknesses that you don’t like in yourself or in others, but giving those flaws to your characters will make them more rounded. It’s the fatal flaw, the insecurities, failure, and weaknesses, that make a character interesting and ultimately drives the story.
Every flaw has a back story. People are the way they are for a reason. Noticing their flaws and embracing them with compassion can make for better storytelling. And the same applies to you and your flaws.
Exercise: What are your flaws and weaknesses? Make a list in your slogan journal. Now take one of your flaws and tell its story. Don’t criticise yourself, but write with compassion and understanding.
More in the book – available now: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers