Why Do People Tear Down Others to Inflate Their Own Value?

Why Do People Tear Down Others to Inflate Their Own Value?

If there is one thing that really irritates me, it’s how hyper-critical people are of everything and everyone they don’t like or agree with.

Sure, we have our own opinions. Of course, no two are people are alike. It’s human nature to have individual beliefs and thoughts that may differ from others.

But the real question still remains: Why do some feel actual pleasure tearing down others they don’t agree with?

Or worse yet …

Why do some tear others down not because they disagree, but because they are jealous or envious?

Do you know people who are critical or mean to others just to make themselves feel better about their own lives?

I do and I’m sure you do, too.

Many years ago, I used to hang out at a neighborhood wine bar with some friends,  including one woman who attended from time to time but wasn’t a regular. One day, she told me that the minute I got up to go to the bathroom, my other “friends” started tearing me apart. She was so disgusted by the whole thing that she decided to record it on her phone and play it back for me.

What was so sad was that there really wasn’t much justification for what was being said behind my back. And what’s more, I realized that tearing one down can quickly become a group effort. Combine a little wine, a marked target and group soapbox, and you have the perfect storm.

I doubt highly that the pleasure these women got for those few minutes disparaging me was a lasting experience. But what I do know is that not one of the people in that recording was actually super happy. They all had their own problems, like all people do, and for one brief moment they felt great about their own lives by tearing mine down.

Can we all say, “scapegoat?

You’re probably thinking, what about if someone has screwed up and is deserving of criticism?

Even then, being put down is not what’s needed, nor is it warranted. Perhaps an honest conversation or little chat, maybe – put downs, public shaming, never. Indignity and humiliation have no place in human relations.

I’m sure so many of us have experienced personal attacks by someone trying to justify their own disappointments with life.

The desire to destroy or attack others simply to increase their own value has its roots planted in the sad soil of envy.

And unfortunately, envy undermines the joy of taking pleasure in another’s success. While I know it can be challenging to be happy for the friend getting a promotion while you sit idly in the mailroom, the fact remains that envy and jealousy are vices that need to be let go.

They are vices that obstruct one’s own happiness and peaceful living.

What’s more, success is not a zero-sum game. It’s zero-sum thinking that leads to envy, and envy is faulty to its core. One person’s success does not need to come at the expense of another.

Quite the contrary.

In fact, studies show that success breeds success.

Say you’re a shop owner, and someone you know gets a big promotion. That person now has more money to spend at your store, which increases your salary and puts more money in your bank account so you can pay more employees to work and they can make more money for their households … etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

A win/win for everyone. Right?

However …

Not tearing down others or their success is only half the picture.

The other half is learning to build and develop our own lives. It is about learning and discovering, overcoming and growing.

When we focus on our own lives and build up others, even in the face of disparity, envy fades to emulation, jealousy fades to appreciation, and hate fades to inspiration.

Realizing our own potential is the ultimate expression of love for self.

So, leave others’ lives intact.

Look to see what they do to build up their lives and try building something of your own.

A life lived building, creating and respecting instead of destroying, undermining and criticizing is a life of greater purpose and meaning. It is a more fulfilling life.

The next time you feel unhappy with your current life situation, try giving someone a compliment or a congratulations, or show them some appreciation. You’ll be actually doing yourself the favor.

Until next time,


Born and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Karin has a BA in sociology, with a minor in psychology earning honors at Michigan State University. Along with certification in relationship coaching, Karin is an international blogger and past columnist. She is currently accepting clients and advertisers and can be reached @[email protected].


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