Criticism in relationships!

What criticism leads to? Why does one criticize? What dynamics are observed in a relationship with one partner being critical?

Today`s blog tries to unfold these questions to see the bigger picture! An individual is critical due to one of the factors:

  • S/he is critical as a conscious choice. (often used for self defense).
  • S/he has been conditioned about being critical as a part of personality.

There have been many research and studies conducted in this area: most prominent being by Dr. John and Julie Gottman. The husband and wife team came with “four horsemen” (a phase wise diagnosis vexing a relationship). Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and stonewalling.

Analysing the critical behavior:

An individual tends to be critical probably due one of the below:

  • Self-defense (avoiding facing the real problem)
  • Total control is the only way to attain perfectionism.
  • Things have always happened according to you and hence your way is the only way.
  • Being critical validates your thought process.
  • By being critical you are focusing on someone else which negates your own issues.
  • By being critical you can demand attention.
  • You have been in a critical environment since childhood.

Analyzing critical thoughts:

An individual tends to think about the below when being critical:

  • Confidence (things are going according to them)
  • Sense on power (everyone around you is listening to you and are probably scared too)
  • Perfectionist (others are always wrong)
  • Being superior than others.
  • Blind belief in conditioning.

Analyzing critical emotions:

A critical individual may have more than one of the below emotions:

  • Aversion
  • Hesitant
  • Remorseful
  • Ashamed
  • Ignored
  • Victimized
  • Powerlessness
  • Vulnerable
  • Isolated
  • Inferior etc

The emotions of a critical individual may vary and may also include more but the above listed ones are some of the emotions.

Various therapies have been designed for this specific purpose of dealing with criticism. It is advisable in cases of a partner being critical to reflect and observe. By reflecting into one’s own life, the partner will benefit by temporarily providing relief by being non-critical and using the same time to reflect upon one’s life events. This initial step provides a much-needed break to both partners. Succeeding the reflection phase, the partner must introspect the relationship from the beginning to decide upon a point where criticism began. The work of a therapist becomes tricky from this point on as everything depends on the readiness of the partner to change.

Therapeutic interventions bring about changes in the overall life of an individual. A third person acting like an arbitrator negates the bias issue among partners.

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