Why do people belittle others? Why do people criticize others?
One good reason is – they want to give honest feedback, they want to make you better. This is all good and fine. Healthy criticism is good and needed. We are not discussing healthy criticism here. What I am interested in here is to probe why people criticize others out of malice and spite.
If you dig deep into yourselves, you will find a slow simmering ego cooking the deep desire to be better than others and dominate others and convince them of your superiority. This is not bad in itself, most of the improvement and growth of human kind has come out of this tendency. Humans have come a long way; ego was very vital part of human success. After crawling out of their humble cave, man faced many dangers, many failures, many setbacks but humans kept charging ahead, they were fueled by the desire to be better than others and leave this world better than they found it. So ego and desire necessarily is not bad. The problem starts when your moral guard goes down and you get blinded by your desire to be number one at any cost and to be better than others without putting the hard work needed.
Our ego makes us carry an imaginary success line. The length of this line depends on how much this society think of you, your prestige, your status, your money, college degrees, car, your house, how rich you are, basically all the physical attribute this world attach to success. Every one carry this imaginary line and they extend its length by wearing diamonds, shoes, owning big houses and expensive cars etc.
The length of this imaginary success line is calculated by people very quickly; in a blink of eye they know the length of your success line. They ask you where you work, where you live, what degrees you have, they scan your shoes, your dress, your watch and if they find your line very small than theirs then they lose interest in you. You are not worthy of their time. However, if your line is bigger than theirs then they will express gratitude and hang on every word of yours, in hope that their line will grow by few inches by just knowing you. Society does take into account the length of your friend’s line too.
Interesting interaction happens when two people meet who have almost similar length lines. It reminds me of a festival of north-eastern India, I don’t remember the name of festival, but I have seen it in Assam. On a particular day people walk around with bag of eggs and one egg in their hand. When they meet anyone, they slightly hit others eggs with their own egg. The person whose egg-shell cracks loses and gives his egg to the winner. Similarly, we carry this imaginary line, and as soon as we meet anyone new, we try to measure our line length with others line. I love watching this behavior of people in parties, night clubs, business conventions, conferences and airports. When people come across any other person, who has a similar length success line in society, out of their nature they try to compete, and measure their line against another’s line. This competition is healthy up to a point and this tendency attributed to most of the growth achieved by human kind.
The Problem starts when one become lazy and do not want to make their line longer by hard work and honesty.
Lazy and incompetent people try to make their line longer without due diligence, without the effort needed. Out of their own laziness they take shortcuts and in place of making their own line longer, they tries to erase others line shorter, thinking if I can make others line short then my line will automatically seems longer. Disparaging others, vilifying, making derogate comments and debasing others are the act of erasing others line.
So when you find yourself criticizing others wait for a second and think: is my comment for the benefit of other? Is it a healthy feedback? I am helping someone to become better or I am just trying to erase some ones line? If yes, then is it worth to have my line longer than another by deceit and by just erasing others line shorter? Is this going to give me any pleasure? Even if no one will know, you will know that you made your line longer by erasing others and this is cheating, this is laziness, this is failure, weakness, and lack of moral. Watch yourself, watch your thoughts.
When you come to know that someone criticizes you behind your back, take for granted that this person fails to compete with you with hard work and honesty. Out of his frustration, out of his own failure, he is trying to erase your line. He accepted that he failed the honest way; he is taking the easy way out and fooling himself. Doesn’t this realization make you feel sorry for him rather to become angry?
Now something to think about: what if you don’t have this imaginary line in your head?
The bigger your ego, the thicker this line will be. The more self-absorbed you are, the more prominent your line will be. If you have less ego then this line will be faint, it will be hazy, and it will be almost transparent for a pure hearted and humble person. Absence of your ego will make this line so hazy that people will not see it, when they don’t see a line, then what is there to erase ? What is there to shorten?
And the most important part is when your line is dim, when your ego is less, then you cannot see other lines, then you do not notice others ego. You will not notice others line, because you will not be interested. The freedom from this calculation will bring immense peace in you. You no longer depended upon to draw satisfaction by measurement. You no longer depended upon others to prove your worth, suddenly you find yourself free.