I really have to get a better attitude. That's really hard for me to say, because people who just wanted to manipulate me used to say that. But the truth is that I tend to see faults in things. This is both a strength and a weakness. I'm very good at seeing holes in people's rhetoric and identifying inconsistencies in logic. I've always liked that about myself. I've avoided scams myself and have been able to protect other people from folks who were trying to deceive them. And I like to think that this skill is a benefit to whatever organization I'm in, since no matter how good intentioned someone is they can always use constructive criticism.
But the truth I am realizing is that I rely too heavily on identifying flaws as the basis of my worth. When I fear that I can't contribute anything worthwhile, I fall back on criticizing. I like that I can point out problems no one else has seen, and 90% of the time I'm proven right. Finding out that my perspective in a situation is unique gives me a rush, because I so often am afraid I am not valuable. But (and it sounds obvious when I say it out loud) sometimes pointing out problems only causes more problems.
In another online site (a small/medium online gaming community, not a big anonymous place), I made a comment that the head of the site almost always has a negative opinion of not-yet released games and that I felt it made me less likely to listen to his opinion when it was always going to be pessimistic. Well, he really let me have it. This guy (the head of the site, who makes his living running it, and someone I've talked to on a number of occasions) called me a ton of names and told me to get off of his site. Because we're a tight knit group, that response drew in a lot of people standing up for me. Several hours later, he apologized and I think we are cool.
So why do I feel like this is a wake up call to me? Well, because I realized that -- even though he did not respond appropriately -- my comment about negativity was really a mirror on me. When I thought I was being kicked off the site, I started going back and looking at my old posts. And I began to realize that I don't just point out flaws . . . sometimes my entire way of communicating becomes just a series of negativity. Its just identifying one mistake after another. And while they are all true, that is not a fun or productive way to live life nor is it beneficial to relationships.
In one sense, I "won" the fight. I pointed out an accurate problem. He lost control and was chastised by his own community for it, and I was on the receiving end of a heartfelt apology. But if the situation was reversed and there was someone I considered a friend who was just day after day telling me all the things I do wrong, I'm not sure I would have responded any better. I get a power rush from being right, and that's not an appropriate attitude to have in any relationship.
So I'm going to try to be more positive and slower to point out other people's mistakes. I feel like I do a pretty good job of that here, though not perfect, because I don't feel the same need to prove and protect myself on MS as I do in the rest of the world. Much of the time, my motivation really is to try to help the other person. But some of the time my motivations are more about my own insecurities. And even when my motivations are good, doing it incessantly can backfire.
"As long as the child within is not allowed to become aware of what happened to him or her, a part of his or her emotional life will remain frozen . . . all appeals to love, solidarity, and compassion will be useless."
-- Alice Miller