Making friends by calling them names.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.


Photo courtesy of

Does criticizing people get them to like you?

There seems to be a widely held belief that the way to get people to like and respect you is to criticize them and tell them what they are doing wrong.

Intuitively most people understand that if upon meeting someone for the first time, you began to upbraid them, called them names, and told them how worthless they are, this would not be likely to lead to having a large number of friends. We know this but we often do it anyway.

You would expect that each of us would be striving to treat ourselves well and yet we frequently call ourselves names that we would never, ever, dare call a friend.

Ever call yourself “stupid’ or “dumb?” Think for a moment about saying that to a friend. Not once, when they made an unusually poor choice, but consistently day after day. We wouldn’t do that to a friend, but most of us, most of the time, repeatedly call ourselves names.

The danger of calling yourself names is that you will start believing what you tell yourself.

Pictures of cute little puppies and little children inspire us to want to help. They can inspire us to kindness. It is easy to be kind to others. Most of us are afraid to be kind to ourselves.

Why is compassion reserved for other, unrelated people?

Somewhere we got the idea that it was acceptable to be kind to others but if we were to be nice or kind to ourselves then we would spoil ourselves and thereafter be worthless. So year after year we continue to beat ourselves up for one thing after another.

People, who truly spoil themselves, in a bad way, are not those who are kind and compassionate to themselves. The worst sort of spoilage occurs when we tell ourselves we are no good, worthless, or useless and then use that self-description as an excuse for behaving badly.

If you tell yourself you are a slob and then stop trying to clean up your living space because after all you are a slob and no one should expect a slob to clean. If you say you are stupid and then use that belief as an excuse to never attempt anything, expecting your family or society to take care of you. You are using your self-criticism to excuse poor behavior.

Some people tell themselves they are addicts, and what do you expect from an addict? Why of course I relapsed and used drugs again, I am an addict. But if you begin to tell yourself that I USED to be an addict, look at the possibilities that opens up.

One form of therapy is called “narrative therapy.” The way I understand this is that we tell ourselves and others stories, not untrue stories, just stories, and then as we tell them more and more we begin to believe our own fiction. So if you tell yourself you are dumb or worthless you become less and less able to accomplish anything.

People who say “I am an angry person,” stay angry and convince themselves they can’t change. If we can get them to start saying I USED to be an angry person, but I am changing, then amazingly they change.

Do you believe that the only way to get anybody to do things is to beat them? We find that this is a poor way to motivate either ourselves or others. Yet many people continue to beat themselves up, verbally, day after day.

One thing we tell parents as part of the basic parenting class is to catch their children doing something right. Small amounts of praise, judiciously used are great motivators. If the only way your children get your attention is to misbehave, they will misbehave for attention.

The parent who does nothing but criticizes their child finds that the child may give up. Consider the child who wants badly to please their parent; they study very hard for a big test. When the results come out the child has achieved a score of 99 out of 100 possible points.

What does this parent say? Why did you miss that one? You knew that! The result is that the child stops trying, convinced that no matter how hard they tried they will never be good enough.

Years later we find that person and many others still trying to motivate themselves by telling themselves that how they are is not good enough.

The risk here is that rather than motivate yourself to try harder, you will convince yourself that you are a failure and stop trying.

Ultimately you may become the person you say you are.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

4 thoughts on “Making friends by calling them names.

  1. Pingback: Do others harm your self-esteem? | counselorssoapbox

  2. I used to always say, I’m not very clever! Just because I left school young. I think I have more common sense than some educated people I know.:) Yet, I still say this. I won’t be blogging for a couple of weeks, as I committed to work at our property. Lot’s of jobs to do, whilst the sun is shinning! Actually we will be sweltering! LOl See you in a couple of weeks. 🙂 …. Paula xx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.