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  1. #21
    Dhampyr Economica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimpei View Post
    Now, I'm more aware of my faults myself so I don't feel hurt when I'm criticized. I think the keys are awareness and openness to others (getting rid of self-righteousness), in order to be more cooperative when it comes to valid criticism.
    Thanks for sharing, Shimpei. I see I should've addressed my query to IXXJs. I guess I forgot that you guys can be pretty resistant to criticism too.

    May I ask how you in practice went about getting rid of self-righteousness? I'm thinking that it must be key to hone other qualities to be appreciated for than being oracular so that it is not as fatal for self-esteem to be wrong... or to not be opinionated about everything. (You know: I judge, therefore I exist. )

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    [...] What I want to know is how difficult you find admitting your faults to yourself. What are your reactions to the person/people that tells you about yourself? Do you deny? Blame? Begin criticizing the other person to take the heat of yourself? [...]
    I don't tend to see negative personal characteristics in a relationship as "faults." Instead I tend to see them as "relationship irritants." It's rare that personal characteristics are negative in all of one's relationships. More likely, individual personal characteristics are positive in some circumstances and relationships and negative in others.

    For example:

    1) Let's say I take command and run the show at work. That characteristic is admired and rewarded in the workplace by my bosses and coworkers (and even my subordinates). But at home, my wife insists that I'm pushy and make all the decisions and don't treat her as an equal. So that characteristic is a positive personal characteristic in the workplace but a relationship irritant in my marriage.

    2) Let's say I spend a lot of time in bars drinking with my friends. It's a positive characteristic with my friends but a relationship irritant with my boss, who is tired of me showing up at work with hangovers or getting drunk over lunchtime.

    3) Let's say my wife is more of a perfectionist than me; so when we do things together, I feel like she sucks the fun out of them by working too hard at them. But if we don't push for perfection, she gets bored or irritated that we're missing out on an important part of the experience. It's hard to say who is at "fault" in a situation like this.

    4) And so on.

    My feeling is that a lot of my personal characteristics are positive in one or more environments, but they don't necessarily translate well into a different environment. To be quiet and introverted may be great at work, but it isn't so great when I go out to social events. Or a personal characteristic of mine may be perfectly fine with my wife for the first five years of our marriage but then she starts complaining about it in the sixth year. Perhaps she says, "I always knew you were shy and bookish, but I thought you would grow out of it. I'm tired of this. We need to get out and start doing more social things."

    I think this gets more into the real nature of relationships. It's usually not the case that a relationship is doomed by a single "fault" (or succeeds because of a lack of "faults"). You never really get rid of the "faults," because there are always new irritants cropping up in long-term relationships. There are always new strains. And since individual frictions usually only crop up in one relationship (at least initially) out of many in a given person's life, they may seem entirely subjective and arbitrary.

    Rather it's my experience that, over the long-term, relationships fall into either a virtuous cycle of dealing successfully with routine irritants or into a vicious cycle of stumbling and struggling with routine irritants and frictions. IOW, I think it comes down to conflict resolution skills. How much leverage do we give key people in our life to change characteristics of ourselves? Do we dig in our heels? Do we insist on sharing the pain by demanding a reciprocal change from the other person?

    (Not disagreeing with the OP; just restating it a bit.)

    Anyway, my own answer: The wife and the boss get a lot of leeway to demand change from me. Friends--not so much, since they are more disposable. And meantime I work on the general concept of getting better at conflict resolution rather than worrying about individual "faults." I figure that if I can get the overall mechanism down, the details (the separate conflicts) will take care of themselves.

    FL

  3. #23
    Dhampyr Economica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    I don't tend to see negative personal characteristics in a relationship as "faults." Instead I tend to see them as "relationship irritants." It's rare that personal characteristics are negative in all of one's relationships. More likely, individual personal characteristics are positive in some circumstances and relationships and negative in others.
    But when the characteristics do bug everyone, they're faults, right?

    Great post, FL.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Economica View Post
    But when the characteristics do bug everyone, they're faults, right?
    Ummm.... I would hate to admit that I might have any true faults. So let's call them bargaining chips that could potentially be cashed in for profit with a whole lot of people.

    Great post, FL.

    Thanks!

    FL

  5. #25
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Toonia, your examples are all professional/artistic, do you find you react differently to inter-relational type criticism? I, personally, can deal better with the kinds of criticism you described than inter-relational/personal criticism. A prof red-inking all over my essay isn't pleasant, but it isn't a bad thing, he's just helping me improve. A family member or friend commenting on my attitude or how I run my home is a whole 'nuther ballgame.

    For example, when my kids were four, six, eight, and ten, my ten year old could not tie her shoes. Somehow it came up when my dad and his girlfriend were visiting and I said that I had tried and tried to teach her, but eventually I gave up because she just wasn't getting it. GF says, "That's where you dropped the ball."

    I'm thinking "I've got four kids in a tiny student housing apartment, I'm trying to home-school them on a shoestring while my husband works and goes to school full-time. I've got balls dropped all over the damn place. And besides that, the kid that can't tie her shoes was reading at a post-high school level in second grade, so bite me." What I said was "Well, my sanity's worth something."

    If she had something useful to say like, "Have you tried teaching her using this method?" then I'd have been just fine.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  6. #26
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    To echo Economica, do you not think legitimate faults exists, they're just relative to the situation?

    All of your examples are relevant, but they seem more like traits than faults. Personality traits are different from personality faults although they overlap. Faults can change, traits can't. I'm not really asking about negative personality traits, but actual faults we have that need to change.

    I know many people that have the same reoccurring problems in relationships because of a flaw they have. Many people have said to them, you need to change X about yourself. It's possible that they do it so much that it becomes a part of their personality, but it wasn't always so. These are not positive in any situation (or very rare ones). Shouldn't a person work on these things?
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  7. #27
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    That was a really excellent post, FineLine. You are probably right about that being the main deal with relationships. There are times when a person can be wrong or earning criticism such as in ideas, skills, etc. Not sure how one would reconcile where that line is drawn. I do appreciate the overall tone of your post because it reframes unsuccessful relationships as something other than failure. That would be healthier for most people to not feel as hopeless. I do feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of asking someone to change for you. I've been married a while now and I don't consciously do that. The idea that someone would or even could change seems unlikely to me. I've leaned towards finding my own way to cope or solve problems, but maybe that's not recommended. People are complex, life is complex.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    To echo Economica, do you not think legitimate faults exists, they're just relative to the situation?

    All of your examples are relevant, but they seem more like traits than faults. Personality traits are different from personality faults although they overlap. Faults can change, traits can't. I'm not really asking about negative personality traits, but actual faults we have that need to change.

    I know many people that have the same reoccurring problems in relationships because of a flaw they have. Many people have said to them, you need to change X about yourself. It's possible that they do it so much that it becomes a part of their personality, but it wasn't always so. These are not positive in any situation (or very rare ones).
    Maybe you could provide an example or two.

    Shouldn't a person work on these things?
    Actually, I think anything (trait, fault, etc.) is at least negotiable. Even if I can't deliver precisely what my wife wants from me, I might be able to give her something else. You never know the relative value of things until you sit down and dicker a bit.

    For me in the past, the biggest problem in dealing with relationship problems was always taking the other person seriously. I used to minimize the other person's complaints, figuring that they just needed to chill out a bit.

    But nowadays if my wife enunciates a problem, I sit down and listen to her. Even if I can't deliver what she wants on the spot, maybe I can give her a little extra attention in other ways. Or if we can get it out in the open, then maybe she can point it out whenever it happens so I can examine for myself what's happening.

    The main thing for me, though, is simply to take seriously whatever she might have to say. From there, a lot of solutions or trade-offs are possible. Even if it's something I don't feel I can deliver, at the very least I'll ponder it for a while with the intent of finding a trade-off somewhere else.

    Basically, the starting point is to let her know that if something's important to her, then I'm going to make it important to me too. That usually helps alleviate the immediate concerns. Then we'll see where we can go from there.

    FL

  9. #29
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    I'm thinking "I've got four kids in a tiny student housing apartment, I'm trying to home-school them on a shoestring while my husband works and goes to school full-time. I've got balls dropped all over the damn place. And besides that, the kid that can't tie her shoes was reading at a post-high school level in second grade, so bite me." What I said was "Well, my sanity's worth something."

    If she had something useful to say like, "Have you tried teaching her using this method?" then I'd have been just fine.


    Between your post and mine, the difference between constructive and destructive criticism crystallizes. Also, there is an implied question of motive in all your examples. There is a patronizing tone to what and how they delivered their criticism. It sounds to me like it was more about them demonstrating their assumed superiority rather than actually attempting to be helpful. There should be two completely different words to describe those two processes. When it looks like someone is just playing a game of social dominance, i run if i can, but cross them off my list for future interactions if at all possible.

    It is also different when a person is completely run down and confronted with condescending criticism. If a person is well rested and feeling good, the best option out is to laugh. I wouldn't be able to if continually confronted with it. It would wear me down. I do have an in-law that has accused me of loving cats more than children. Annoying, but also hilarious. When people take that tone, it's a little tempting to toy with them and push it to the absurd.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    That was a really excellent post, FineLine. You are probably right about that being the main deal with relationships. There are times when a person can be wrong or earning criticism such as in ideas, skills, etc. Not sure how one would reconcile where that line is drawn. I do appreciate the overall tone of your post because it reframes unsuccessful relationships as something other than failure. That would be healthier for most people to not feel as hopeless. I do feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of asking someone to change for you. I've been married a while now and I don't consciously do that. The idea that someone would or even could change seems unlikely to me. I've leaned towards finding my own way to cope or solve problems, but maybe that's not recommended. People are complex, life is complex.
    Up to now I've been talking about when someone comes to me asking me to change. Asking someone else to make changes is tougher, I'll grant you.

    When it comes to asking my wife for a change, I know from experience that there are some things she can't deliver and some things she can. For example, I may ask her to keep the house cleaner, but I know from experience that it'll only last a little time.

    But if we can get it out in the open, we can often at least find some compromises: Maybe she will agree to at least keep her artistic clutter confined to one or two rooms. Or maybe she'll say, "I tried, but there's no closet space." So maybe the ball comes back to me and I have to build her some more shelves.

    If my wife and I discuss a problem, we can often at least chip away at the edges in a way that will stick. And if enough headway is made over time, it may turn out that the problem ceases to be a problem. If I see she's making effort, I may be able to forgive the remainder of the problem. Especially if there are issues that can't be resolved, like storage space and time issues.

    To me, the main thing is to chat a little bit and get a show of good faith on both sides. From there, you don't necessarily get a solution but you at least get over the immediate exasperation of the problem and buy a little time.

    You don't often get what you want, of course. But you do communicate and get a sense that the other person's looking out for you the best they can. And that can really help out sometimes in getting past the problem one way or another. If nothing else, it gets you past any paranoia that the other person has just ceased to care or is taking advantage of you. And from there maybe you can start edging in the direction of some middle ground.

    FL

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