Manali Desai Why do we look for flaws in others? January 12, 2018

Is there a reason we have the phrase “too good to be true”? Must be so, right?

A look at a recent movie trailer made me think about a very valid point. Why is it so hard for us to believe that someone can actually be flawless or perfect? In fact, we enjoy being the one who finds out a flaw in someone who seems to be everyone’s favourite.

While in the movie, the point seems to be driven by jealousy, is that the reason in real life too?

Surely I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, so I read more about it and even asked people around me. Interestingly it brought up points I had never thought of.

A senior of mine at work told me, “Well, yes, jealousy is a major reason I guess. But for me, it is also because I know I’m not perfect. It is only human to err, right? I mean I haven’t met anyone without a vice. Even Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t perfect, so who are we?“

My father, who has very rarely criticized people, had a very interesting take. He said, “Growing up in a big family I learnt quite a few things the hard way. Your eldest uncle, and my elder brother, had a way of blaming others for whatever wrong happened in the house. Till date, I have never seen him accepting his fault or misgivings. Maybe this is a reason why most of us fail to accept that anyone can be without faults too.”

That was interesting. I then came to realise that yes, most of us are like my uncle; not easily accepting something we did wrong. Don’t they say it is easier to put the blame on someone else’s head?

A new colleague recently joined our team and he seemed to have ideas, which were frankly, quite opposing to mine. Whenever someone spoke or asked about him, I couldn’t help but say something bad about him. There again was yet another reason! We look for flaws in people because they are different from us. Think about it, do you not dislike the person, even if it’s for a moment, who disagrees with your point of views?

My mom had a different take altogether. “Well, I think the reason lies in our unhappiness and jealousy. Most of us aren’t satisfied and happy in their lives, so we cannot digest the fact that someone is doing better than us; especially someone who is a contemporary,” she said.

“I’ll give you my own example. The principal of the school I work at is younger to me, has much lesser experience and qualification but is still designated to a position better than me. The injustice of it, my jealousy and my unsatisfied nature make me look at only flaws in her. Yes, she is good at what she does. But all I can think of is, she doesn’t deserve it, I do, and hence I look for flaws in her,” she added.

An article on ExploringYourMind notes that pent-up anger and frustration could also be another reason. We do forget our problems and own misgivings by pointing out other people’s flaws. Don’t we do that to make ourselves feel better and boost our egos all the time?

Another article on PsychologyToday talks about how we criticize the things in others that we don’t like in ourselves, comparing it to a projection or a ‘mirror’. So, if I am, say, not happy with my body, I might make fun of (or criticise) someone who is obese, chubby or even someone whom I think has a better body than mine.

It all boils to comparisons, in the end, it appears.

Comparisons we make of everyone with ourselves and comparisons the society makes of us with just about everyone else!

A preserver of my thoughts and a nurturer of self-happiness, I am Manali, a believer in all's well that ends well. I cherish the act of writing and the process of thinking. Loner to some and warm to others, I swing between moods based on my hunger pangs. Traveler, reader,music lover and foodie are some adjectives which can be used to describe me.

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