I came across the word “Persnickety” when I was learning the word of the day. It 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 person as fussy, picky or difficult.

Truly, those people are difficult to deal with. They hold high standards to others and to 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 everyday, less sugar, less sodium, no gluten, organic food. Or they have to have some particular food (honey, herbs, supplements, or even some medicine) otherwise their body couldn’t perform.

They have to follow everyday routines. To wash clothes, to take a shower right after getting out of bed, to go to the bathroom early in the morning, to avoid the sun from 11am to 2pm, to check schedules three times a day, to complete all the things to do for the day before go 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 body sickness for a long time. Typically food allergy, sensitive skins, 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, being persnickety or being a perfectionist is to set rules and conditions to others and to ourselves. Those rules and conditions look really good because they are considered as good habits in public opinion. However they are the limitations to our freedom and true happiness, once we fix them in our mind.

In the Tao/Dao state, everything is flowing and changing. There is no good and no bad, only when we humans give it a meaning. Any thing can be bad if we give it a bad meaning. Same reason, any thing can be good if we give it a good meaning. But if we fix it as a rule, good things become a golden cage which locks our mind thus interrupting the Tao state. Losing the Tao state, qi and blood is not be able to flow freely in our body and mind. Sooner or later it causes sickness.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t eat healthy or follow good routines. We do and we choose to do so by 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 people who are persnickety?

If we notice that someone is being persnickety, it is because 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 is conflicting 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, grand masters included.

One note though: 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?

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Summary

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, which are 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 causes diseases in our body and mind.

What is your idea of dealing with being persnickety? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.