Last update: January 27, 2016
Each person is a constellation of marvelous virtues, of less evident virtues and of numerous defects; no one can escape this truth. We all have a genius and a saint inside, but also a tyrant and a fool. Nobody goes through this world without making mistakes or doing something they are ashamed of.
However, there are people who act as if this isn't true. It is not known why, but there are individuals who turn into implacable judges towards others and it is not clear on the basis of what they have assumed this right. They are able to create a detailed list of the defects of others.
They even go so far as to determine what actions you should take to correct your mistakes or to point out the path you should take to remedy your shortcomings. Not only that: they also allow themselves to be intolerant towards your shortcomings or your mistakes.
"All our criticism is the art of reproaching others for not having the qualities we believe we have"
When the criticisms are constant and merciless, the most likely thing is that it is not a sound evaluation of your mistakes, but a defense mechanism called "projection". In other words, people who criticize you in this way they see you as a mirror: they criticize what they dislike about themselves.
What they criticize about you
Just as we are all partially admirable, we are also all partially objectionable. If you look for moral defects in St. Francis of Assisi, you will surely find them. If you inquire whether Albert Einstein ever said nonsense, you will certainly verify that he did too.
And here is the crux of the matter: each CHOOSE what to see and what not to see in others. In general, this choice is related to the way in which the person who evaluates himself perceives himself; that is, if she notices and appreciates the positive side of her, she will see good in others too, otherwise not.
However, there are times when the critic is not satisfied with seeing the faults of others everywhere, but chooses a particular person or group to whom his biting judgments are made known. Because?
What they dislike about themselves
Projection works like this: a person constructs an opinion about himself, which is often not very impartial and objective. There may be some traits of your character that you find unacceptable.
For example, it could be an individual who, in practice, is deeply selfish, but who, in words, proclaims himself in favor of solidarity. So, he constructs false arguments to justify his selfish behaviors. He is one of the kind of people who say "I am very worried about your loneliness, but I don't have time to come and visit you".
People like this would like to see themselves as generous individuals, but their selfishness prevents them. In reality, they are unaware that they only care about their own interests and are unable to make small concessions to others. They truly believe that their pretexts represent valid reasons for acting as they do.
The problem is, when they notice selfish conduct in others, they raise their voices to report it and protest. They are indignant and shout from the rooftops their rejection of these behaviors; they find it inconceivable for anyone to act in this way.
If you ask them for clarification, they tell you that their reasons for being selfish are totally founded: "It is not that I want to be like this, it is that circumstances oblige me". The motives of others, on the other hand, are always and only excuses.
What actually happens?
In reality, what happens is that the mistakes of others unconsciously remind him of his own. They do not tolerate in others what they do not tolerate in themselves; in other words, they project their shortcomings onto others, so as not to inflict the narcissistic wound of seeing them in themselves.
By itself, criticism almost always involves projection. It is typical that you criticize others for having traits that belong to you, but that you don't like. You don't do it on purpose, you just aren't aware of it.
It is good that you pay attention to the things you cannot stand in others. If you observe carefully, you will realize that this intolerance concerns you more than others.
Similarly, when you are criticized, you should not "drink" everything they tell you: we advise you to think about why this person has chosen to see that very negative aspect in you. It is very likely that you will come to the conclusion that his criticism, in fact, refers to a sore point in his being, and not to your behavior.
Images courtesy of Christian Schloe