Are you constantly bothered by things people say or do?
Do you have a habit of pointing out everyone who you think is wrong or unintelligent?
If you think I might be describing you, then this hypersensitivity is ruining your life. You just might not realize it.
The good news is that this type of self-harm is avoidable once you understand the price you pay for your comments and commit to more productive forms of complaining.
If you constantly point out other people’s problems, you are at serious risk of:
- putting a limit on your happiness
- creating or perpetuating depression
- isolating yourself from your most important relationships
- turning people off from wanting to get close to you
- creating negative energy around you that generates bad luck
- killing the cells in your body with negativity
We all have sensitivities that are specific to our upbringing. It’s all comes down to whether you have a system of monitoring how and when you share what bothers you about people.
Your pet peeves color the way you see the world. They are part of the central framework you use to interpret other people’s actions.
The types of behaviors that get under our skin vary greatly from person to person. Some people can’t help but have a problem with everyone who chews with their mouth open. Other people police the world looking for pedestrians who walk too slowly, or who blast their youtube videos on public transportation.
Some people will see this post as a group of anger management tools. That’s fine…whatever helps you to take my recommendations seriously if you’re the type of person who has an addiction to pointing out other people’s faults.
The challenge I know I’m up against is that people who have a bad habit of judging others tend to be the most defensive people when it comes to recommendations for bettering their life. They tend to dismiss anything that recommends a change in viewpoint. I hope I can get through to those people as well.
Please pay special attention to the last recommendation, as it is by far the most important point.)
THE FAULT FINDING RADAR
The one with the fault finding radar is the unhappy person of the group. I promise you.
Often times, this person has admirable qualities that make others avoid challenging his or her judgments. He or she may be in a position of authority or have a ton of experience to back up his or her beliefs. It doesn’t matter. They are essentially shooting themselves in the foot with this habit.
The fault finding radar compels a person to constantly point out whats wrong with other people. It’s the ultimate recipe for misery.
Now you might be thinking that misery created the radar, as opposed to the reverse, and you’d probably be correct in thinking this.
5 REASONS WHY CONSTANT FAULT FINDING IS MAKING YOU UNHAPPY (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT)
1. Pointing out what bothers you about people only worsens your deep-seated insecurities.
The habit of constantly pointing out people’s faults is most likely a reflection of what you’ve struggle with in childhood. It is a manifestation of an insecurity about the very things that you judge other people for most often. Some people who have difficulty taking responsibility for their own actions have a tendency to project onto others that with which they struggle. In fact, the avoidance of responsibility and a difficulty apologizing to people you’ve hurt are the trademarks of the constant fault finder.
Solution A: There are other ways to conquer your insecurities. Start by pointing out the good in people, including the smallest acts of wit and wisdom. The more you invest in recognizing the greatness in the world, the more this will translate into recognizing your own greatness.
Solution B: Ask someone close to you the following two questions: (1) if you have difficulty apologizing for your actions, and (2) whether you avoid taking responsibility for how your actions affect others.
This insight needs to come from someone else because the self-awareness is often compromised in the chronic fault finder. It’s a costly interpersonal blindspot. Work on taking responsibility for small things. Own your part when misunderstandings arise. See the value in apologizing as a way to clean up a mess.
2. Fault finding in others may be your way of attempting to master memories of an overly punitive parent.
Can you recall a parent or other influential relative who often pointed out everyone else’s problems or faults? I’m guessing that, if the answer is yes, you harbor some form of resentment toward this person, especially if you have memories of him or her being critical of you.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better way is there to overcome memories of an overly judgmental parent these recommendations:
Solution A: Move toward forgiveness of people who were overly critical of you in the past. Psychotherapy can help immensely with limiting the negative impact of the past on the present. There is absolutely no gain for you to hold on to resentment. Choosing not to forgive is like choosing sickness for yourself. Forgiveness sets you free. Strive to understand the value of forgiveness. Consider reading Forgiveness by Simon and Simon. It’s a game changer!
Solution B: Try to remember any positive qualities in your punitive relative, even if it’s hard to do. Most importantly, avoid showing the world how you inherited the tendency to judge others. Vow to judge other people less, and challenge your own judgments after you arrive at them. Judging is inevitable. It’s how repulsed you are by your own judgments that matters. See my post on judgment for a concrete technique to limit the negative impact of judgment on the mind and body.
3. Constant fault finding gives you a temporary ego boost and the illusion of superiority in the moment, but crashes your mood a few seconds later.
Not far from the way gossip works, judging another person gives you a rush in the moment, but the rush is soon replaced by unhappiness thereafter.
I love this quote about gossip by Eleanor Roosevelt (or Socrates depending on the source):
“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”
Solution A: The goal is to stop yourself from verbalizing your negative opinion even if you have the thought. Create a filter that decides which complaints are necessary and which should be left in your mind. It really does come down to the cliche, “If you don’t have something nice to say, keep it to yourself.”
Solution B: Too much concern with other peoples’ marital issues, bad habits, limitations or weaknesses is a sign that you must invest more in committing to your own personal goals. Try some of the recommendations from one of my favorite posts about committing to your own personal growth.
4. Frequent complaints about what other people say or do promotes depression.
Too much focus on what’s wrong with others can sour your mood in an instant. Depression pulls for either self-devaluation or finding fault with other people or the world as a whole.
Solution: While there are many degrees and manifestations of depression, one strategy for climbing out of the darkness is to practice gratitude. Make a list each morning of 5-10 reasons why you are grateful. Continue every morning with this. If you’re committed to this practice, you’ll see a difference…and you’ll find yourself judging people less, including people you deem to be unintelligent.
You can also practice various forms of gratitude on social media. Take a look at this post highlighting the importance of gratitude. For an interesting challenge, try posting each of these five forms of thankfulness on Facebook.
5. A tendency to point out other people’s faults destroys your curiosity and the cells in your body.
The tendency to see people in black and white terms with no middle ground often predicts excessive judgment of others. You see someone as either fine or scum, smart or stupid, pretty or ugly. This habit promotes a sense of isolation from others, unhappiness, and, most importantly, sickness. I have a theory that when your curiosity is closed down. case, you age faster.
Yes, if you need even more reason to stop pointing out other people’s faults, just know that bitterness kills. It probably promotes cancer and suppresses the immune system.
Solution: Even if you tend to naturally see people in a binary manner (e.g., good/bad or smart/dumb), push yourself to see and accept the many shades of people. One mistake, foolish act or asinine comment does not mean the entire person is unintelligent.
Respect the power of negativity, bitterness, and more specifically, the tendency to find fault in others to make your mind and body turn on itself. Show self-respect by avoiding something that is eating away at you, bit by bit, negative comment by negative comment.
It ultimately comes down to the decision of whether you want to be right or happy. You choose.
If you’re not the fault finding type, but someone close to you is, consider sharing this post with him or her.
Final Notes: Please note that it is human to find fault with others. There are both healthy and pathological levels of the fault finding habit. It’s actually healthy to sometimes be critical of others. Sharing your opinions, even if they contain venom, can bring psychological relief under certain circumstances and can be experienced as a form of self-expression. Criticism combined with personal accountability is often healthy. Also note that I haven’t talked much about the habit of constantly recognizing your own faults. Some of the solutions I’ve offered do apply to self-judgment, but I will address this at some point in a separate post.
Please feel free to comment below or ask questions about my recommendations.