Little things affect little minds. Benjamin Disraeli
It is the little bits of things that fret and worry us; we can dodge an elephant, but we can’t dodge a fly. Josh Billings
Those who occupy their minds with small matters, generally become incapable of greatness. François de La Rochefoucauld
How often are we guilty of the undesirable practice of pettiness? Some of us tend to really excel at it. When we are petty, we tend to be mean, selfish, and unkind. We take small and rather unimportant “trifles” and intentionally try to make someone feel bad, embarrassed, or even ashamed. We get some sadistic pleasure of treating others in a way we would not like to be treated ourselves. Shame on us.
This is the type of behavior that would cause our mothers to reprimand us. Let us assume that most would agree that being petty is undesirable and should be something we should not do. However, on occasion, we tend to slip, lose our guard and we become petty. What is it that allows us or causes us to show our “pettiness”?
Think of someone who is petty on a frequent basis. These individuals seem to have a built in sensor that automatically takes advantage of any opportunity to “get” someone. We could get lost in all of the psychology of this. A common sense approach to analyzing this would indicate these individuals have self-concept, self-esteem, and self-love deficiencies. The translation is that they do not like themselves. Something is lacking that causes them to lash out and “gig” others. We lash out at others because we are not particularly happy with who and what we are. It is a maladjusted way of projecting our faults onto others. We often see this in people who are “blowhards”, egocentric, spoiled, and self-centered.
Those who avoid acting in petty ways, are more well-balanced and secure. They do not feel any need to lash out at others in order to try to feel better about themselves. They can be kind to others because they are able to accept and love themselves. The more we accept and love ourselves, the more we are able to be kind to others. The more we have problems with how we feel about ourselves, the more likely it is we have problems with such flaws as pettiness. Instead of acting petty when someone is less than perfect or makes a mistake, we should reach out to them and encourage them. We should have more important things to do than being petty. We should give ourselves instant feedback every time we are petty, “You just told the world that you do not like yourself”
Challenge: How often are you petty? What are your motives for doing so? Do you really want to be mean and nasty? Not likely! Have a sensor that sounds before you become petty. Think before you say or do things you will later regret. Do good and kind things instead of mean and hateful. The cure for this is to invest in developing a better self-concept. If you are unable to love yourself in healthy ways, you will have problems in loving others.
Wisdom: To be angry about trifles is mean and childish; to rage and be furious is brutish; and to maintain perpetual wrath is akin to the practice and temper of devils; but to prevent and suppress rising resentment is wise and glorious, is manly and divine. Alan Watts
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
In God we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness….Galatians 5:22
Anything we do not done in a spirit of love is something we should not have done. This is a tough and seemingly impossible code to live by. In our own strength we fall short of trying to live up to this high standard. The Bible tells us God is love and He loved us so much He sacrificed Himself to save us from our sins. It is only God’s love manifesting itself in us that gives us the ability to not only truly love our self but to love others as well.
Prayer: Help me to avoid pettiness in my life. Help me replace it with a “loving” attitude to others.