Outrage or Empathy? How to Handle Your Worst Critics


Someone I care about recently called me a sanctimonious f’ing bitch, and suggested I share my true nature with my “Dear Readers”.

Dear Readers, in the words of St. Patrick,

I am a sinner, most uncultivated and least of all the faithful and despised in the eyes of many.

I am thin-skinned, usually sad, and generally, if I open my mouth on a topic, 100% right (i.e. I can be arrogant). I may forgive an unkind word or slight, but I never, ever forget. Just ask my husband.

Things I’m not 100% sure about:

  • honesty is the best policy, although I keep trying
  • no-contact the most moral way to handle a toxic mother
  • parenting
  • is anyone actually in hell
  • how the hell do I lose weight
  • marriage
  • am I sanctimonious

This is not a revenge post. I love this person who seems to hate me. I know her pains and her loneliness. While I do not share her perceptions, I understand they are hers and she believes them. I want her to be well, whole, happy and loved.

But is she right? Definitions according to Webster’s:

Sanctimonious: hypocritically pious or devout.

Hypocrite: being a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)

by Fernando Botero

I try not to write about marriage too much because I’m not sure to what I owe our longevity (almost 22 years). And we still fight—passionately— about the printer not working and whose job it is to keep the wood stove lit.  I don’t write about asceticism because I’ve never met a can of Coke or turkey sandwich  I didn’t like.

When I write about parenting, I am usually examining my failings.

I write about friendship, kindness and gratitude because I strive for these values, not because I embody them.

If you find me sanctimonious, please forgive me my trespasses. At the risk of sounding holier than thou, I quote Joan of Arc, who when asked if she believed she was in God’s grace replied:

If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there. 

May we be less outraged and more empathic. May we listen to our critics enough to remain humble. May we imagine their point of view. May we love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us. (Matthew 5:44).












5 thoughts on “Outrage or Empathy? How to Handle Your Worst Critics

  1. I think there is no pain quite like the false accusations from people we love. I find that the very things we are accused of falsely are those things our accusers are the most ashamed of in themselves. Carry on. You are far from sanctimonious my dear.


  2. Let’s take a look at the accusation in more detail. She called you a sanctimonious #@&& *<?!#. She's confusing you with her illusion of what she believes 'good' people are supposed to be like. The illusion is that good people no longer commit sins and have no personal issue's in their life because they are now righteous and should always display good behavior. The truth of the matter is that their are no 'good' people. We are imperfect finite creatures. We have messy thinking, messy relationships, high expectations and low tolerance of everyone but ourselves. Read the newspapers if you don't believe me. Your thin skin..etc., corresponds to reality. If you had a perfect life I'd be really suspicious. Therefore, no, you are not a sanctimonious #@&& *<?!#. You're just like every other sinner who really needs a Savior, but your riding the fence on that decision. And also, no one has gone to hell, yet. It's not time. I hope this helps you.


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