I’ve been guilty of it, subtly putting someone down, nitpicking flaws, needing to have the last word as a futile effort to be “right.” It’s true, I have moments where I’m the asshole and most of the time I don’t mean to be…it just sort of happens. But I’m working on it. I really want to learn how to stop being so petty and learn to be happier.
According to Urban Dictionary (my main source of definitions for modern day lingo), petty means:
1)making things, events, or actions normal people dismiss as trivial or insignificant into excuses to be upset, uncooperative, childish, or stubborn.
2)A person who habitually overreacts.
3)A person who is purposefully childish with the intent of illiciting a reaction.
4)An immature over reaction in retaliation of an undesired outcome.
You get the picture, basically an asshole. Most of the time, I don’t mean to be this way, it’s usually a response to other people’s asshole behavior.
I think most of us are petty in our own ways. At work I often find myself absorbing other people’s negativity and then giving it back in petty, unwarranted comments. Life is so stressful, sometimes my capacity for stress bubbles over in pettiness. I need to really learn how to be happier and not so petty.
Here are some of the ways that pettiness can show itself:
1) Needing to get the last word
Have you ever spoken to someone or gotten into an argument and the other person always had a biting comment back? You might correct them or clarify politely and you’re met with a derisive unnecessary comment that really didn’t do much but get under your skin. With people who are petty in this way, you can almost always guarantee that there’s a biting comment around the corner, usually it’s something to put you down or or point fingers at you for some wrong doing. It looks like this:
“Marsha, can you please wash the dishes tonight. I feel so tired.”
“Of course I’ll do the dishes Jenna, it’s not like I have anything better to do than to clean up after you.”
Of course Marsha, is being a petty b*tch about washing dishes. She could have either said “yes” or “no, sorry I can’t,” but she had to give this underhanded comment that was totally unnecessary.
Nitpicking is an obvious one, and kind of piggybacks on needing to get the last word. It’s a way of picking at someone’s flaws until they have nothing left but bareboned insecurity. People who have experienced nitpicking tend to feel very insecure around the person being petty, it often feels like they’re walking on eggshells.
I used to have a friend, honestly she was more of a frenemy, she would always make fun of little things “jokingly.” It was pervasive from what I wore, to how I ate, to what I said. She always said it in front of other people so they could get in on the “joke.” Little things like, “why are you wearing that, it’s too hot, you never know how to dress for the weather,” or “you eat too slow, everyone always has to wait on you,” or “look how forgetful Alex is”, she always needs to be reminded of when the test is.” After a while those kind of comments tend to strip you bare and leave you feeling like you’re nothing. It’s so much harder to learn to be happier, when someone is reminding you of all the ways you suck.
3) Superiority complex
I’ve seen this happen at work more so than anywhere else. Especially with bosses or more seasoned colleagues. Somehow the status of being more seasoned or a manager makes people petty as f*ck. These people are always reminding you that you are beneath them. Whether that’s objectively true or not, it doesn’t matter.
People who suffer from this type of pettiness rely on belittling you so that they always feel in control. They NEED you to feel like you’re beneath them so they can feel superior.
I’ve been very guilty of this one. I can be intensely stubborn. ESPECIALLY when I feel like I want to have something my way. If I’m not getting my way, then I’ll go out of my way to be stubborn over the smallest thing just to give the other person some hell. Sure, I could compromise and meet in the middle, but then I’d have no leverage for what I really want. By being extra stubborn, in some ways, it gives me some wiggle room to negotiate something else. A “tit for tat” kind of deal.
This is actually a VERY immature way of negotiating and handling disagreements but who said I was mature? Being overly stubborn is a way that some petty people (me) passively can get what they want or get their revenge.
Here are the ways you can stop being petty:
1) Be the bigger person
Pride is a hard thing to swallow and at the root of all pettiness is a sense of pride. Pettiness finds a way to “one up” someone. By being a person that is above all that, it just proves you’re an emotionally mature person that doesn’t stoop to other people’s pettiness.
Trust me, I know how satisfying pettiness can be, especially when someone is being rude to you first. At the end of the day, holding your head up high and not lowering yourself to other petty peoples’ level will give you a sense of self confidence, assurance and petty-free pride.
Sometimes you just need to take a step back from the situation. Meditation, prayer or whatever you want to call it on a daily basis will help calm your nerves and give you perspective on what’s important in life- and it’s definitely not pettiness. Life is about how to learn to be happier with yourself.
Next time someone gets under your skin, you’ll be able to have the calm clarity that it’s just not worth it and let their annoying-ness roll right off.
Even if you’re in the heat of the moment and someone is being totally obnoxious, it doesn’t hurt to take a few moments to breathe before giving a petty comeback. In those few seconds, you might be able to come to the conclusion that your petty comeback doesn’t do sh*t to resolve to conflict and actually adds fuel to the fire.
So take a moment, not everyone deserves your reaction, so stop being so petty.
3) Talk out your issues
Other times people might just get on your nerves and not even KNOW it, and if you don’t speak up but just jump to pettiness, you’re going to give the wrong impression. This is the way many communication issues arise. Someone says something rude and annoying, they’re unknowingly doing it and you just get triggered.
The key here is to talk it out. Mention that the behavior that triggers you is not ok and why you feel that way. Really make an effort to explain yourself. Some people will understand and stop triggering you and stop unknowingly annoying you. Others will scoff and say, “Oh, stop being so sensitive. It was only a joke.”
To those scoffing assholes, bring on the pettiness. It’s ok, as long as you gave them the warning not to trigger you. *wink*
4)Avoid your triggers
And if all else fails and you can’t get those annoying rude people to leave you alone despite telling them, you should probably just avoid them. That’s probably the easiest way on how to stop being petty and learn to be happier. Most of the time pettiness brings negativity into your life so half the time it’s not worth the effort.
Avoid the assholes and the people who are rude and crass. Avoid people who don’t respect boundaries and are just trying to get a rise out of you.
I’m a true believer in karma and bringing positive people into your life through positivity. So avoiding and cutting out people who don’t treat you the way you deserve and only bring out your ugly side sounds like a plan.
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