The second meaning of critical is what most people tend to associate with the word-- that is, a critical spirit. A critical spirit is one that tears down without any desire to build up or make better, stronger or more beautiful. Over-exposure to a critical spirit is what makes most people resistant to any type of critique. They feel that evaluation or analysis of a behavior, performance or idea is a direct (and negative) reflection on who they are. For many, this conjures painful memories of encounters with someone's critical spirit.
A critical spirit is a dangerous force. Exhibiting it is perhaps one of the easiest habits to develop, and one of the hardest to break.
How do I know if I am thinking critically or exhibiting a critical spirit? Is there some way I can perform a self-examination? Perhaps. I suggest the following as a test:
Typically, a critical spirit engages in ad hominem attacks. This means the focus is the person-- not the idea or action. We often see the ad hominem attack in political campaigns and debates. But what about in everyday life? Do you find yourself going beyond analyzing someone's idea or action, to the point that nothing that person does can be good enough for your approval?
Is your critical thinking being used to build up the other person, or are you analyzing in an attempt to discredit or embarrass others?
Remember, critical thinking is valuable and much needed; a critical spirit is destructive.