This is the fourth part of a series on increasing your happiness by keeping your nose out of other peoples’ lives. It’s currently in seven parts (if you include the introduction post).

  1. Introduction.
  2. Basic definitions of being nosy and being a put-down artist.
  3. Why being nosy and putting down others is bad for you.
  4. Understanding why people are nosy and mean to others.
  5. Handling nosy, cruel people. (Gossips and how to avoid them.)
  6. Ways to stop being a nosy put-down artist.
  7. How you can help others and yourself—beyond elevating the self.

The last post outlined the ways that being a Nosy Put-Down Artist (NPDA) is bad for you. Real-life consequences such as job loss, putting yourself in isolation, gaining a reputation for being a bully, and possibly not being able to get help in your own time of need are all downsides of being an NPDA.

There are a few thousand reasons why people engage in this kind of behavior. If there weren’t benefits and rewards to the behavior, then people wouldn’t engage in it. Examining the general benefits for bullying and why we do it can help us put a stop to it. 

Because, ultimately, the benefits are temporary, and the consequences are often greater than the benefits.

So if it’s bad for you, why do it?

  1. Devaluing others puts you in a (temporary) higher place. In other words, being nosy and putting others down gives you a sense of superiority, even a fleeting one.
  2. A surge of power. When you place yourself in a higher position over another person, you feel empowered. Again, it’s a temporary feeling and illusory, but it’s another reason people do it.
  3. An excuse to remain stagnant. If you’re busy putting others down and intruding into their lives, then it gives you a reason not to improve your own. Instead of working on self-improvement, you wind up “working” on other people.
  4. People want to alleviate their boredom and lack creativity. Again, it’s an easy, passive way to feel like you’re doing something constructive, even though being an NPDA isn’t constructive at all.
  5. Drawing a basis for comparison. A person engaging in this behavior, for example, can look at an overweight person and say something like, “well, at least I’m not as fat as he/she/xe is,” or “at least I don’t have to deal with a messy divorce like x person.” It’s an extension of #3.
  6. Fear of what you will discover about yourself. Being an NPDA enables you to avoid looking inward. When you don’t have a lot of self-esteem, looking inward can be extremely painful. In order to avoid that pain, you turn it outward and focus on others. 
  7. Perpetuating the victim-abuser cycle. Some people who are NPDA abuse others because they have been abused. They were bullied by peers, parents, spouses, relatives, or outer society and they feel very small. In order to stop feeling small, they side with the aggressor and use their tactics on others.

There are almost as many reasons for NPDA behavior as there are people who do it. In general, however, we see that this behavior stems from low self-esteem, passivity, and ignorance of what else to do.

Once we understand this behavior, we are better equipped to deal with it and to circumvent it. Not only can we call it out in ourselves, we can handle it when others do it to us. Our next blog focuses on how to handle a person like this.