People who are overly critical of other people often have these 8 unresolved personal issues

I once had a long-term pal who had a very rare skill indeed.

It wasn’t tying a cherry stem with their tongue, or being able to recite every capital city in the world. Nope.

It was a skill that wasn’t all that much fun at parties. It was the ability to sniff out flaws like a bloodhound on a trail.

My bloodhound buddy could track down imperfections in literally everything. It was as if they were, at all times, tracking a scent imperceptible to the rest of us.

It may not surprise you, but they worked as quite a successful commercial lawyer. 

In their work, they were able to use their critical bloodhound abilities to pick out flaws in a case. However, in their personal life, they weren’t quite able to give their nose for flaws a rest.

We are no longer friends, because of this very reason—it became exhausting and demotivating being in their presence—but now that I look back on it, with time, space, and years of wisdom (ahem), I think I have figured it out…

They weren’t entirely happy with themselves. 

Critiquing everyone around them was their way of deflecting attention from their own shortcomings and insecurities. 

If you know someone like the bloodhound/lawyer, you might want to read on for some reasons behind their constant criticism. Starting with a big one: an absence of self love.

1) They don’t know how to love themselves

You might not realize it at the time, because being unfairly criticized can 100% put you on the defensive, but here’s a thought that helps me in these situations.

Some folks cannot resist being critical of other people because they don’t have the strongest foundation to begin with.

That’s right… they might not love themselves all that much.

The overarching question of self-love is as simple as this: if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love someone else?

This is what it tends to be like for the critical folks in our lives. They don’t know how to cultivate a healthy level of self-love.

So, with that, they go out into the wide world, foisting their internal struggles onto the people around them.

In the way that they pick apart flaws and errors in others, they can temporarily redirect attention from their own issues. 

It’s a super toxic coping mechanism, and it can of course, push people away.

2) They are holding onto unnecessary resentment

Now for the big R word. Resentment.

If you’ve got a friend who is basically a human fault-finding sonar device, there’s a good chance they’re harboring a whole lot of resentment beneath it all.

Now, this might be resentment towards other people, or possibly themselves.

When we cling to grudges, it is extremely detrimental for our mental health. 

If someone is drowning in resentment, it can crowd their perspective and taint every interaction. It can even turn great relationships into toxic ones. 

Which is why it is so important to get a handle on it as soon as you possibly can.

Of course, we are all only human, and often we have no idea how much resentment is waiting in the shadows, heaving us back.

This overly critical person in your life may not have addressed their lingering resentment. In fact, it’s likely they haven’t even clocked onto it at all.

3) They haven’t forgiven themselves for a past transgression

Another deeper reason behind a person’s critical habits is forgiveness, or a lack thereof.

A person who is massively haunted by a past mistake or error might siphon this energy into pointing out flaws in others.

What I think it comes down to is control. This particular person finds that they are unable to control their past, but through criticism they can control their present, and in turn, the people around them.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Well, forgiveness isn’t just a maybe, it’s a must.

It’s a life-changing tool for personal growth and healthier relationships with others and ourselves.

When we forgive ourselves, and those around us, we free up much-needed mental real estate to focus on the present and future instead of dwelling on past missteps and being overly critical.

4) They have low self-esteem

Like my friend who I likened to a bloodhound, the ridiculously critical person in your life might never be fully happy with anything you do.

Why? Because they are probably deeply unhappy within themselves.

Criticism can be a classic indicator of low self-esteem, and these folks are often engaged in an internal battle with their own insecurities.

It’s kind of like they’re attempting to give themselves a major boost by knocking everything else down a peg.

Seriously, their brain cannot be a fun place to spend time in. If they are being that outwardly critical, imagine what is going on the inside. Pretty sad, huh?

If a person is secure in their own self-worth, the urge to constantly point out your shortcomings isn’t there.

5) They are overly critical of themselves

It’s not easy to consider the reasons behind someone pulling you apart, but I find that sometimes, calling to mind the reasons can be comforting and put things into perspective.

If someone is consistently dismantling their own worth and scrutinizing themselves and every part of them, this pattern might spill over into their friendship circles.

My bloodhound friend used to almost make a sport of dissecting the actions, decisions, and personality quirks of everyone else around them.

I knew that behind closed doors, they were no different with themselves.

6) They may have experienced a traumatic childhood

Like many emotional struggles we face, being overly critical can be tied back to childhood. Yep, that old thing.

Those who have survived a tumultuous childhood often heave around heavy emotional baggage and sometimes, they unload it onto friends and partners.

Think about it for a sec. If you grew up in an atmosphere where criticism was routine, you might subconsciously grow to see it as a pretty normal way to express yourself. 

If you were always under scrutiny as a kid, with every wrong move of yours picked apart, it becomes second nature to treat others in this same way.

Of course, we all have the power to work through the emotional hang-ups and bad habits from our childhood, but not all of us have the ability to identify this in the first place—and that is the first, and most critical, step.

7) They may have overly perfectionistic tendencies and high standards

Here’s a secret: I used to be a little perfectionist. Yep! Back in school.

Fortunately, all of that went out the window once I graduated with good marks and discovered that a whole world of fun awaited.

While I let go of this, I still feel super attuned to other people who show perfectionistic tendencies from time to time.

In short, perfectionism is the constant game of comparisons. It’s like you can’t help but size yourself up against an impossible ideal. And this tendency can be relentless.

This trait can spill over into relationships. This person might expect others to meet these absurdly high standards, and will tend to be overly critical of them, when, spoiler alert, they fail to meet these standards.

8) They may have emotional intimacy issues, and tend to push people away

If you know someone who has a natural alert system for flaws, there’s a strong chance you aren’t particularly close with them.

Maybe it’s because their constant barrage of criticism pushes you away, or maybe it’s because they don’t know how to be close to people.

Overly critical people often have a tendency to push people away, and it’s not just a coincidence.

In fact, they might purposely create distance and put up emotional roadblocks in the form of criticism.

This can be a result of fear. A fear of vulnerability, of getting hurt, or their inner self truly being discovered (and possibly rejected) by another person.

It’s their unique, and oft-times toxic, way of preventing others from getting too close.

Final thoughts

To sum things up, understanding these reasons might be able to change how you perceive and handle overly critical individuals.

Of course, it’s not to say this is behavior that should be normalized and tolerated, but with this background you might find yourself extending more empathy and recognizing that beneath the critical facade lies a person facing a deep struggle with their own emotional challenges.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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