I’d like to share with you a couple of recent stories about my personal life.
Story 1: Similar to Jamie Vardy, Niloy, a friend of mine, has a habit of drinking two cans of energy drink at a stretch after our games in the afternoon. Routinely, after the match, we went to the store to buy cans. There, a kid was yelling and running around the store, and the mother was giggling. Another lady was observing this scenario and muttered angrily in a way that I could hear, “What an irresponsible mother! She can’t even take care of her own child!”
Story 2: About two months ago, I was gossiping with my friends on one fine evening. Incidentally, one of my friends complimented another fellow on social media, saying he was extremely cool. I responded, “Yes, he might be cool on social media. But you can’t even guess how much dumb he is in real life.”
The last line’s goal in both cases was to make a person look bad. In the first scenario, a mature woman was attempting to trash another woman, while an immature male was trying to degrade his friend in the second. However, in both circumstances, they were unaware that their remarks did not denigrate others. Instead, they exposed their deepest fears.
Let me clarify what the hidden meanings of the two articulations above are.
Criticism: What an irresponsible mother! She can’t even take care of her child!
Inner Meaning: Oh, Thank God. I’m not that irresponsible mother. There are even worse than me.
Criticism: Yes, he might be cool on social media. But you can’t even guess how much dumb he is in real life.
Inner Meaning: I wish I was as popular as he.
You are still reading!! You seem to have incredible patience. Another one is the reward of your patience.
Criticism: He thinks he’s everything because he owns a DSLR and eats out every day—terrible.
Inner Meaning: I wish that I had as much money as he did, and judging him negatively makes me feel a little better.
Please allow me to clarify one thing. I am not immune to this flaw. Rather I used to do it very frequently. But now, whenever I’m about to say something hurtful about someone else, I try to take a step back, remind myself that I’m just trying to mask my flaws with these phrases. A quote by the author of the Happiness in your Life series, Doe Zantamata, inspires me in this regard:
“It’s easy to judge. It’s more difficult to understand. Understanding requires compassion, patience, and a willingness to believe that good hearts sometimes choose poor methods. Through judging, we separate. Through understanding, we grow.”
Criticizing others every now and then can have a negative impact on self-esteem. Research shows that making judgments about others can harm your self-esteem more than any external force. Furthermore, by criticizing others, we are hiding our flaws which hampers our own growth. Instead of surpassing others in skill, we are addicted to pointing out others’ flaws. We are too busy labeling them arrogant, cruel, selfish blah blah blah, which kills our precious time. That is why, with today’s social media, it is assumed that when you become a superstar, you will have controversies.
I know a world without negative comments is a dream. But what irritates me most is that nowadays, we are labeling these negative comments as criticism. People are hiding their weaknesses and finding out others’ flaws only to make themselves feel better.
I’m not against criticism. Criticism is a necessary part of the development process. But we need to consider before expressing criticisms whether we are criticizing only to hide our weakness, out of envy, or help others improve. If your criticism is intended to encourage others, you are welcome to approach that person, tell him, and offer a solution.