In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal how constant criticism evolves into bullying and damages children, husbands, wives and destroys relationships and marriages.
First a quick update:
**** Another attack on women: A new TV reality show where brides-to-be compete in challenges to win extensive surgical procedures is another attack on women and reinforces the message to women that they can never be good enough. Read my comments and insights about Bridalplasty which messages that there is something wrong with them, something missing – they need to look younger, slimmer and change the shape of their body – they need to be perfect
**** Avoiding arguments and pain for Thanksgiving and the Holidays: – Read my article from Nov. 2008 that features a powerful suggestion that will help you to enjoy Thanksgiving and the Holidays:
**** For my Spanish-speaking readers and subscribers, read the article in the Colombian magazine Semana featuring my quotes and insights about John Travolta and the gay rumors and how that affects his movie classics such as “Grease”:
Now, let’s talk about criticism, bullying and the way it destroys love & relationships, and leads to breakups, divorce and drug & alcohol addictions.
The dictionary defines criticism as 1. the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything and 2; the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding. In other words, we engage our critical (analytical) faculties every time we make a choice or conclusion about what we like, don’t like and what we want and don’t want. However, when we begin to pass severe judgment and constantly find faults, we begin to engage in destructive and dangerous criticism.
Why and how is criticism destructive and dangerous?
Criticism eventually evolves into bullying and destroys relationship and the target or victim. And yes, bullying is not limited to schools or gay people. Bullying can occur anywhere and in any situation where people are in a relationship or are interacting with each other such as school, church, family, the workplace, home and neighborhoods.
Bullying is abuse and can take various forms such as emotional, verbal or physical. Bullying and criticism are often about a power struggle and the desire to gain control and dominate and control the other person; the attempt to enforce one person’s power over another person. Bullying can also be motivated by arrogance, narcissism, envy or resentment; an attempt to feel empowered or regain one’s self-esteem, or to hide shame or anxiety. Many child bullies are bullied themselves at home.
As exemplified by recent events in the news, bullying leads to school shootings and suicide:
*Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi 18, jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge on September 22, 2010, a day after two classmates surreptitiously recorded him having sex with a man in his dorm room and broadcast it over the Internet
* A teen gunman killed 15 people in a shooting rampage in two small German towns in 2009; he wrote in an email: “I am fed up with this bloody life…Everyone laughs at me.”
* Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech killer who murdered 33 people, felt he had been persecuted by others, saying, “You just loved to crucify me.”
* Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (the Columbine School murderers) who killed 15 people had mentioned “wrath” and a desire for revenge. (Read more about this and listen to the radio interview I gave to Russ Morley news/talk 850 WFTL about “Common characteristics and motives of mass killers”: http://patrickwanis.com/RadioInterviews.asp#CCMMK )
Signs of bullying
When thinking about bullying, often the image comes to mind of a tall boy standing over and berating, mocking or assaulting a smaller, younger boy. But bullying is not gender specific – boys, girls, men and women engage in criticism and bullying. Numerous male clients have complained to me about being highly criticized or bullied in their marriage. Yes, bullying also occurs in relationships and marriages. Constant criticism over years can easily escalate to bullying.
You are bullying your romantic or business partner when you:
- Attempt to constantly control and dominate your partner
- Constantly criticize, nit-pick and find faults
- Refuse to acknowledge him/her, his/her value, contributions or achievements
- Don’t express appreciation, gratitude or praise
- Constantly attempt to undermine your partner, his/her status, worth or value
- Isolate, separate or exclude him/her from family decisions
- Belittle, demean, patronize, humiliate or shout at him/her, and in front of others
- Exclude him/her from events
- Delegate greater responsibilities to your partner but reduce his/her authority
- Withhold love and affection
Vivian and Richard have been married for 12 years and Richard complains that his wife constantly criticizes and bullies him: she never expresses appreciation for what he has provided for the household and their two children (the security, house and lifestyle – Richard says Vivian has many freedoms – she doesn’t have to work and has plenty of time and opportunity to shop, have manicures and pedicures, etc); Vivian constantly calls Richard an idiot; she is often complaining about Richard – if he makes a mistake she labels him as stupid, irresponsible and a jerk; Vivian cannot find anything good to say about Richard and is always condemning him and telling him that he is not good enough; she never consults him before making decisions regarding the children; she is cold, rarely expresses any affection towards him and is physically and emotionally distant; she speaks down to him and will criticize and humiliate him in front of their friends.
In turn, Richard has progressively shut down. He suffers from extremely low self-esteem despite his success in business. Richard is resentful towards Vivian, fearful of her reactions, and he avoids her in his free time. Richard has turned to drugs and alcohol as a way to escape his life and his unhappiness. Richard has also begun to have affairs.
None of Vivian’s behavior or treatment of Richard justifies Richard’s reactions or affairs, but the dynamic and Vivian’s behavior are an example of bullying and the results and effects of bullying. Their marriage is overpowered by resentment, bitterness and a power struggle that is played out with Vivian controlling, dominating and beating down Richard.
(Listen to the interview I gave to Jim Peake of MySuccessGateway.com about how men perpetrate the power struggle – “Jealousy, insecurity and ogling other beautiful people” http://patrickwanis.com/radiointerviews.asp#Ogling )
As I have mentioned in various other Success Newsletters, women fall in love with the potential of a man and then when they learn and realize that the man is not what they wanted him to be, they express disappointment. The disappointment then turns to dissatisfaction and the woman begins to criticize the man (partially out of frustration, anger, hopelessness and a reaction to feeling helpless and, partially out of the hope that if she criticizes him sufficiently he might still change.) But two major problems occur here: the criticism turns into bullying (the man becomes more resistant) and the love is destroyed. So, too, is the man’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
(Read more about our desire to change people – and the futility of that desire – in my Newsletter “Why don’t you change?”http://patrickwanis.com/blog/why-dont-you-change/ )
Constant criticism and bullying in a relationship can truly destroy a partner, lead to anger and mass murder as mentioned in above examples or it can lead to suicide.
World famous singer and actress, Marie Osmond appeared on Oprah to talk about her son Michael’s suicide. Oprah asked her if Michael was gay and whether or not he might have committed suicide as a result of having been bullied as has occurred with other gay teens.
“My son was not gay,” Marie Osmond told Oprah. “It wouldn’t matter if he was. I have a daughter who is gay. And it was my daughter who was offended by it, because she was like, ‘what, all gay people commit suicide?’”
Marie Osmond went on to say that for the youth who have died, their reason wasn’t “that they’re gay…it’s the bullying. It’s the abusive, beating someone’s self worth down that to me is the cause of that.”
And maybe that is the best way to sum up bullying and criticism – the abusive, beating down of someone’s self-worth which in turn, destroys the person, the love and the relationship of marriage.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist