I came across the word “Persnickety” when I was learning the word of the day. Persnickety means: placing too much emphasis on minor and trivial details. Everyone can probably think of at least one person with such character: our families, friends, colleagues, and even oneself. We describe such a person as fussy, picky, or difficult.
Truly, a persnickety person is difficult to deal with. They hold high standards for others and themselves. They are always in high maintenance, exquisite state. Everything has to be perfect. They are hard to please, and they criticize a lot. But they claim themselves to be a perfectionist.
There are too many examples of being persnickety in daily life.
They need a “proper” condition for sleeping: a room without any sound or trace of light, a soft but not too soft bed, a perfectly soft and firm pillow, a blanket that smells good, a dry and clean sheet without any trace of hair.
They have to have healthy food every day, less sugar, less sodium, no gluten, and organic food. Or they have to have some particular food (honey, herbs, supplements, or even some medicine); otherwise, their body can’t perform. Being healthy is their priority.
They have to follow everyday routines. To wash clothes, take a shower right after getting out of bed, go to the bathroom early in the morning, avoid the sun from 11am to 2pm, check schedules three times a day, to complete all the things to do for the day before going to bed, etc.
They hate to see others being careless with household chores, personal hygiene, jobs, etc. If they notice that others are not doing things in the “right way”, they will definitely point it out and correct it right in front of others.
The consequence? Obviously, very few people truly like them. Even they don’t like themselves. Evidence? Most of them could suffer from one or more bodily issues for a long time. Typically food allergy, sensitive skin, metabolism problems, stomach and intestinal diseases, constipation, immune system diseases, including those very rare diseases. Some may experience sleeping problems, depression, anxiety, and other mental issues.
Why does being persnickety have to do with sickness?
You can see from those examples that being persnickety or being a perfectionist is to set rules and conditions for others and ourselves. Those rules and conditions look good because they are considered good habits in public opinion. However, they are the limitations to our freedom and true happiness once we fix them in our minds.
In the Tao/Dao state, everything is flowing and changing. There is no good and no bad, only when we humans give it meaning. Anything can be bad if we give it a bad meaning. Same reason, anything can be good if we give it a good meaning. But if we fix it, as a rule, good things become a golden cage that locks our minds, thus interrupting the Tao state. Losing the Tao state, qi and blood are not able to flow freely in our body and mind. Sooner or later, it causes sickness.
That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t eat healthily or follow good routines. We do, and we choose to do so of our free will, not by following some rules. Therefore we won’t feel frustrated or upset if sometimes we don’t have access to or simply couldn’t do it. The key is to be truly happy and flexible in any situation given.
How to deal with persnickety people?
If we notice that someone is being persnickety, we are reacting to his/her behavior. We may say that everyone knows that person is persnickety. However, we should still be centered and not be annoyed no matter what. If we find that we are affected in that situation, we shall dig deep and find what causes our reaction.
Chances are, we have a rule or condition that conflicts with that other person’s, so it’s our job to get rid of our limitations. We cannot change other people, but we can always change ourselves. People can only change by themselves, not by anyone else, grandmasters included.
One note: we don’t join or encourage any debate, quarrel, or argument with that person. Persnickety people are good at criticizing. Doing such things would help them deepen their limitations, which we don’t want to do.
How to deal with ourselves if we are persnickety?
[et_bloom_locked optin_id=optin_2]Firstly we need to be aware. Think of, or even better, list down the rules or conditions we set for ourselves. Ask yourself: am I willing to eliminate those limitations to live a happy life? So far, this is the easy part.
Then, in daily practice, can we spot ourselves being persnickety right at that moment? Being aware of it could instantly break the loop when it is happening. That is the difficult part. Because our mind is wired to react according to the conditions, especially when they are set for a long time. It becomes a habit.
How to break that habit of reaction? The key is to watch out for our feelings and emotions. Whenever we have feelings or emotions, it is our body giving us a sign that we are in reaction mode. As soon as we are aware that we have a reaction, we are able to press the brake pedal. If we are about to say or do something in reaction to that moment, STOP and don’t say or do anything!
You might ask: what should we do at that moment? Don’t ask or think in that direction. Simply acknowledge that we catch ourselves in the reaction, and we can stop it. Everyone, that’s a huge success! After we can catch and then stop it often enough for a long period of time, we can eliminate the habit of reaction. When we don’t react to situations that we would normally react to, we are easing off those fixed rules and conditions and eventually dissolve them once and for all.
The next challenge will be to stay in that awareness long enough until we can finally change? My answer is that meditation with a true heart is the way.[/et_bloom_locked]
Diseases can be treated. Symptoms and even tumors can disappear with medical treatment or with qi healing. But they will come back if the root of sickness is not treated. The root is that fixed mind with rules, conditions, and judgment, mostly inherited from and influenced by our family and society. Being persnickety is one great example of how we are limited and controlled by those rules and conditions, thus causing diseases in our body and mind.
What is your idea of dealing with being persnickety? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.