Is Criticism Critical?

Someone's 'feedback' to you says more about themselves and their unmet needs.

Like Comment

I used to write an online column for my local newspaper group, and for the first time in my life I aquired my own online 'troll' - who's name was 'Urban Vermin'!

I've also read of another online author who had a similar problem, but she managed to trace who'd been leaving nasty comments about her work - despite the only clue to their identity being a pseudonym and a cartoon image.

The result surprised me.

I'd expected the culprit to be an angry male teenager thumping vitriolic words into his keyboard.

Instead the 'troll' was an apologetic middle-aged middle-class woman, whose reason for being so nasty was that the author's positive comments and apparent success in life hit a raw nerve for her and reminded her of how unhappy her own life was.

Her comments were very critical and yet not critical – in the sense of being necessary or vital. They weren't valid, objective or relevant to the content or context of the author's work. It was a venting of her own frustration, sadness and self-loathing, whilst hiding behind an online identity.

Instead of looking inward and making changes to her own life she projected her negative feelings outwards. Whilst seemingly remaining detached from any empathy for the author, and how it felt for her to be abused and bullied in this anonymous way. 

Perhaps she was re-enacting aspects of her own history – which we can all be prone to do until we heal our old emotional wounds.

How ironic that positivity can attract such negativity.

There's a clear distinction between helpful feedback, and bullying criticism which is intended to make someone feel bad.

We all have a basic human need to be significant, to be noticed, and to make an impact. If that can't be done in a healthy way some will opt for nastier ways of standing out and getting attention.

The irrational underlying belief is that it's better to be cruel, critical and spiteful, than to be insignificant and ignored. Nobody wants to feel like a nobody.

Everything we do has a reason behind it. Not necessarily a good one that we are fully aware of. The underlying reason behind bullying or 'trolling' can be to give oneself the illusion of power whilst attempting to diminish someone else's.

So, next time you encounter nasty malicious 'feedback' spare a thought for the unhappy soul behind it. 

Hard as it might be, try to feel some compassion for their struggle to be seen, heard and to grab some power and make their own personal difference in the world.

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR

Helping women who want to underestand and manage their emotions, boundaries and behaviours - and to make peace with the past to prevent it from interfering with the present and future!

Helping women to recover from a troubled child and toxic parents - to heal and re-parent their inner child. LOTS of FREE resources available from the website. Also an online self-help guide/course called '3 Steps To Sort Yourself Out - without therapy!' (click on link to find out more)

10 online self-help workshops of Psycho-Emotional-Education - to help you to help yourself to understand and manage anxiety, depression, anger, stress, low self-esteem and confidence, your relationships, how to be happier, understanding yourself, how to manage your mind body and weight, and how to calm down and think straight (mindful living)

A new approach to therapy which works to reveal and revise the unhelpful sub-conscious belief system or S.C.R.I.P.T. (c) Sub-Conscious-Rules-Influencing-Present-Time

Maxine Harley

MIND HEALER & MENTOR - Psychotherapist (MSc), Author, Columnist & Blogger. Please see and, S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life Company Ltd.

I help women to FEEL better - so they can BE, DO and HAVE better! As a MIND HEALER I specialise in helping women to recover from a troubled childhood and toxic parents, to heal and transcend their emotional wounds, re-parent their inner child, and make peace with their past. This enables and empowers them to become better parents, partners, professionals - and all round happier calmer people :-) As a MENTOR I offer different levels of therapeutic self development - including MINDING YOUR BUSINESS, MINDING THE GAP, and MIND MASTERY...please discover more at