Why are those who criticise the most the most thin-skinned when it comes to receiving criticism? According to Anne Wilson Schaef, author of many books on psychology, it’s because of their “background of constant self-criticism: any further negative feedback from others can be extremely threatening.”
These perfectionists “feel as though they need all of their strength and concentration to meet the ruthless standards of their own Inner Critic, so they possess few resources for handling even the slightest hint of criticism from others.”
In other words, lacking the energy and resources to defend themselves, they are easily triggered, ready to explode at any moment.
It reminds me of the Monty Python movie The Meaning of Life, where an enormous man who’s just finished eating a twenty-course meal is asked by the waiter (John Cleese) if he would “care for dessert.” When he responds that he has absolutely no more room, the waiter finally convinces him to try “a wafer-thin mint.”
The wafer-thin mint turns out to be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, and hillarity ensues.
I guess I had to go through this first-hand. After a particularly long relationship that ended badly, my good friend John remarked, “You finally found someone who treated you worse than you treat yourself.”
Freed by the wafer-thin mint!