Why and how not to be overly critical?

A man pointing a finger.

How should you react when you are cast in a poor light?

Should you concern yourself about this?"

Individually, we repeatedly fall far short of being the kind of persons we would like to be.

Obviously, then, we cannot take seriously every remark that people may make.

If a person were to do so, he would experience much emotional hurt.

For example, one might hear that a close friend made some unfavorable comment about him.

He could reason:

Well, if that’s the way he feels about me, I’m going to cut him off. I don’t want his friendship.

In this way a good relationship could be ruined.

Also, undue interest in what people say in a favorable way can also lead to trouble. Their praise can be a snare, causing the one who is lauded to begin thinking too highly of oneself.

When a person’s pride is thus fed, his good qualities may be shoved into the background. As a result, he may lose the fine reputation that he once enjoyed.

Even when misrepresented, a person may find it the course of wisdom not to make an issue of the matter.

Instead of clearing up the misrepresentation, a person’s trying to put it down may only advertise it and cause more people to believe it.

At the same time we can profit from valid criticism, by endeavoring to make improvement. And, by preserving fine conduct, we can silence the ignorant talk of unreasonable persons.

Dealing with overly critical thoughts

Have you ever heard such expressions as: “Don’t believe a word of it!” or, “Who does she think she is?” or, “That’s not so wonderful. I could have done better myself”?"

No doubt all of us have, and yet how much better it would be if such things went unsaid! Or, better than that, if one did not even have such thoughts!

What can cause one to have critical thoughts about others? Well, another person may be getting undue attention, or may be receiving high praise.

Or it could be that another may betray an eagerness for attention and praise. So it may be that in one’s reaction to the situation is a tinge of envy.

Even if not expressed in words, critical thoughts, nevertheless, can do harm. They tend to deteriorate relations with others.

They may also do harm to the one that thinks them. This is because what affects the mind also affects the body.

Among the overly critical thoughts that we ought to guard against are those that show undue suspicion. Why?

In dealing with friends, relatives, close associates in particular, it is better to trust others. Even if problems arise, give them the benefit of the doubt.

It is better to be disappointed occasionally than to be unduly suspicious, as though everyone were ready to take advantage of you.

Many husbands and wives make their lives unhappy because of being unduly suspicious of each other. How much happier their marriage would be if they made it a point to think of each other in a kindly way!

Especially as regards our view of the motives of other people should we be on guard against over critical thoughts. Critical thoughts also result in expecting too much of others.

It is good to realize that what may seem small and insignificant to us may represent a great victory or achievement on the part of another.

In homes where there is a “generation gap,” is it not largely due to parents being too critical of their children, and children being too critical of their parents?

They could well learn from the Turkish proverb: “He who seeks a friend without a fault will be without one.”

Especially is there need for travelers to be on guard against unkind, unduly critical thoughts when they visit foreign lands.

Strange sights and customs may well cause one to compare unfavorably what one sees with conditions in one’s own land.

Instead, would it not be better to exercise empathy, putting oneself in the shoes of others, as it were?

Doing so, one will be able to make allowances, recognizing to what extent the people are the victims of circumstances.

Rightly viewed, one can sincerely admire them for what they are able to accomplish under existing conditions.

Do not be like the foolish person who, noting a speaker’s repetition of a certain expression, kept counting how many times the speaker used it.

How much more he would have benefited from the talk if he had concentrated on the arguments presented and appreciated the speaker’s sincerity!


Truly, in the daily affairs of life, wisdom dictates that one should not be overly concerned about what others say.

Our not giving heed to every word that people speak prevents us from taking needless offense or having our pride fed.

On the other hand, learn to enjoy what others do by noting their good points instead of being overly conscious of their shortcomings.