“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” Abraham Lincoln
“The motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Those who care criticize where necessary. Those who envy criticize the moment they think that they have found a weak spot.” Criss Jami
I am not sure how many people use the term nitpicking, but the meaning seems to be understood by all. I was recently accused of this and I felt horrible, to say the least. When it comes from someone you love, it is even worse. Of course, my mind was immediately filled with anger and thoughts of retaliation. Trying to think clearly about just what to say and how far to carry my anger, was perhaps a good thing, as I think back on the incident. The revengeful feelings dissipated quickly and left me full of hurt instead of fury.
Most people might believe incorrectly, that the love connection was over. Not so. I went home and thought about why this person might have said what they said. I began to see myself in a different light. I actually began to realize that many times I deal with trivial issues and sometimes make them bigger than they really are. It confused me and surprised me at the same time. I had never considered myself so obvious. It certainly didn’t alleviate the heartache of the incident, but it did make me consider the situation in another manner.
I honestly and deeply searched for answers and found some. It required me to climb down from my lofty seat. Now I don’t believe I am a nitpicker but I do over-analyze situations and people. Perhaps I am insecure and wonder at every slight if I have done something wrong. My lack of confidence has proven to be causing some painful happenings. Every time someone is in a bad mood, I blame it on myself. I think that maybe I said something at a prior time or place. Of course, in the end, there are no solid solutions. The nitpicking begins at the point of not understanding where feelings begin and end.
Probably every time we intentionally attempt to be everything to anyone or to please someone at all times, we are doomed to fail. It really is okay to disappoint others at times. As a good friend once said to me, “It is not up to you to make everyone happy. They need to make themselves happy.” I grin and accept it intellectually, but continue on as if it is my duty to control the feelings and moods of all in my vicinity. How absurd it is when I look over the truth of the matter.
I have also considered the fact that many married couples nitpick each other in a joking fashion. This likely promotes more of the same. To others, it may appear unkind. I am not making any excuses, but I have spent a great deal of time thinking about my words and actions. I don’t consider this psycho-analyzing this, although it was a profound studying of myself and my motives. I set some goals for myself. I will attempt to simply hold my tongue and refrain from “nitpicking.” I do hope I am successful.
I must add that many times we find ourselves the recipient of criticism of all kinds. I must share the fact that a short time later, my criticizer was the nitpicker towards another. It almost made me laugh because I now understood how universal it was. I am not condoning nitpicking. As a matter of fact, it really is annoying and goes nowhere. I had not given it much thought before. As a result, I am thankful to the person who brought this behavior to my attention. I can’t say I actually said thank you to him or her because their assessment hurt deeply.
Spiritually they did me a favor. I am devoid of anger and remorseful of my words. I have become aware of a detriment in my own character. I also wonder at the tremendous amount of people who bring things to our attention every day. Our first impulse is to be furious and on the defense. After all, we never consider it a favor to be diminished in such a manner. However, I am honestly thankful, because so many more of the people I love, likely have the same thoughts on my behavior, but are too timid to voice them. (Perhaps I am thinking about this too much causing my insecurity to rise.)
What I actually surmised from all of this is that at times, it might be better to acknowledge our faults, and work on changing them. Getting mad and furious at another makes the situation worse and it solves nothing. Even if we believe someone’s analogy of a situation is wrong, we might still reflect on why they came to the conclusions that they arrived at. Perhaps we are disregarding some important information about ourselves. In all likelihood, it works out for the better, to accept, at least some of the blame, and move forward. The alternative is to lose a loved one.
People who constantly praise us or idolize us are likely shadowing our faults. This is fine as long as we realize that maybe we are not as perfect as we believe. Many marriages fail probably due to each partner’s search for the acknowledgment of being the perfect partner. In the end, we ruin what is possibly a wonderful and satisfying marriage. Perfection has more to do with our own understanding and definition of perfection. In my eyes my kids and husband are perfect. I am not sure what others might say, but it really doesn’t matter at all to me.
I think perhaps we grow straighter and stronger when we accept imperfections, and consent to improve. For me, it was a challenge to improve my character. It called me down. I think we must appreciate those who bring some rain to us because they allow us to plant strong seeds that will grow when the sun comes out again. It makes one reconsider the options when one is confronted with such a confusing situation, that likely could turn volatile in defense. Now I understand how much better it turned out. I didn’t think quick enough to form a retaliation and that was a good thing.
I suppose it is not so much about nitpicking as it is about confronting the truth about ourselves. We are never always right or wrong. We are human and we make some mistakes whether purposeful or not purposeful. The learning is powerful. I hear so many of us, learn from positive words and actions. At times perhaps some of us can only get a message if it is loud, clear, forceful, and meaningful. It only hurts for a little while but the learning lasts forever.
“An acquaintance merely enjoys your company, a fair-weather companion flatters when all is well, a true friend has your best interests at heart and the pluck to tell you what you need to hear.” E.A. Bucchianeri
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop.” New Statesman interview, Winston S. Churchill
“The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” Norman Vincent Peale