You can't expect someone to be merciful if he himself has not received and experienced God's mercy, the undeserved pardon for sin. This came as an epiphany as I did my best to understand a person who always had something to say about everyone and everything. Day in and day out, the person always found something to whine about and I would be on the receiving end of the “Kraken.” The criticisms have no boundaries—it doesn't matter if you're older, well-respected, more educated—that person will still find something to throw at your face.
|from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann|
When I was younger, I would often compare myself to others and criticize them too. I somehow had a false sense of “feeling good” when I would find something wrong about them. Later, I found out that my behavior was actually a defense mechanism—my meaningless criticisms were a cover-up to my insecurities. I just had to come to terms with the fact that I desired what they had. Instead of wallowing in envy and bitterness, the Lord taught me to be content, to appreciate what He's given and how He's made me. How liberating it was to begin living with a grateful heart—you don't only appreciate what you have, you learn to appreciate others too.
Dealing with a person who thinks he is a notch higher than everyone else can certainly challenge one's patience. I mean how do you keep a straight face when you converse with someone who thinks he is the expert in everything? That everyone else is doing the wrong thing and he is doing everything right?
Have you found yourself in conversations like this?
Me: Ang galing ni *Keith no? He's been in the industry for a long time and has really made a name for himself.
“The Expert”: He's better off in music. His talking sucks.
Me: Pero ang tagal na niya. I think he's really good.
“The Expert”: I'm still not impressed.
Just wow. Who died and made you king of everything?
There was also a time when someone asked for my help for a project. I went the extra mile and when I asked what he thought of the output, he made a mountain out of a molehill, zeroing in on unimportant aspects, which made me feel that helping him was not good enough. His obligatory “Thank you” which could have been supported by appreciation was easily trampled upon by his nitpicking.
Since we've mentioned NITPICKING, I remember when I was confined in Makati Med for dengue, when a nitpicking visitor came in.
NITPICKER: Ano ba naman tong kwarto mo, ang liit liit. Bakit ganito yung space?
She went on to pick on the littlest details that didn't really matter to me. To me, it was important that my room had ample space, it was private, I had a comfortable bed, there was an extra bed for whoever would be looking after me and I was near the nurses' station.
When Nitpicker left, I sent her a lengthy text message expressing that I didn't like her negative attitude. Did she intend to check up on how I was or did she really just go there to criticize a hospital room? She apologized after and told me that I wasn't the only person to give her feedback on her negativity.
When tempted to lash out and criticize, try pausing and asking yourself these questions:
-Did this person do anything bad to me?
-Why do I feel this way about the person? Is he/she directly affecting me?
-Have I had a personal encounter with the person that validates what I am about to say?
-What are my intentions for saying these things?
Reflecting on those questions can help you from falling into the same state as constant critics and trolls. Often, they say or post destructive things out of envy. They tear people down, throw stones their way because spitting vitriol on another gives them a false sense of security. It's like saying “Ah, you're living a good life? Let me ruin that. Yes! I got my revenge!” I mean, why would you even think of “revenge” if the person hasn't done anything to you? If the person is just living his own life and you happen to just be a spectator? Isn't it much better to build people up than tear them down? :-)