Saturday, June 29, 2013

You Can’t Win With A Nag

No, I’m not talking about horse racing. I mean that there’s no productive way of dealing with someone who nags all the time. Traditionally, nags have generally been thought of as women, perhaps for a reason. However, I’ve seen plenty of guys who could be classed as nags, too. I’m not sure just what all the scenarios might be that would cause a person to spend their life telling others what to do, constantly reminding them of what they should be doing and complaining about it if they don’t (or don’t do it quickly enough).

I know that some people who’ve been thrust into a position of familial authority as children (such as the oldest child of two working parents) often spend the rest of their lives telling their younger siblings what to do. That doesn’t go over well once those siblings hit the “terrible teens.” Often, those people shift their nagging to others that they get to know, and then wonder why they can’t get truly close to anyone. This is often the case in marriages, with nagging wives and domineering husbands.

Sometimes, I believe nagging is a sign of low self-esteem, or a feeling of being powerless, with the person then over-compensating by trying to be constantly “in charge” or trying to appear competent. That, too, may trace back to childhood, perhaps caused by parents who constantly nag or belittle their kids.

Then, too, I occasionally see someone who seems to honestly believe that they know everything about all things, and that the whole rest of the world needs (and should relish) their directions and opinions. I think you see this a lot in kids who’ve been spoiled growing up, and from people who’ve been in a position of authority for an extended period. We often refer to such people as “little Napoleons.” Once again, maybe the reality is over-compensation for low self-esteem, but I really don’t know.

I DO know that there is no way to break a person of nagging unless they can first admit that they ARE a nag and sincerely wish to change. Sadly, that almost never happens. For one thing, life tends to affirm the success of nagging in their eyes. Others, seeking to shut the person up, may do what the nagging person wants, thus proving the success of the technique to the one doing the nagging. If the thing being nagged about is a situation that requires action at some point, and the nagging has been persistent (and it always is), the one nagging will be convinced that their last nag was the straw that broke the “camel’s back” to what they apparently consider resistance to their “power” or good judgment. With their actions thus vindicated, they move quickly on to the next item.

I suppose that SOME people might be broken of nagging, though I believe that they would be few and far between. I’ve tried using logic on some of them, but that doesn’t cut it, because THEIR logic is always so much “better.” Perhaps if you told them the first time they nagged about something that, the NEXT time they said anything would cause their desired action to NEVER be done, some might eventually learn (but I doubt it). Furthermore, that would make the second person sort of lower themselves to the level of the first, so that isn’t something a lot of folks would chose to do.

In the end, I think we have to admit that nagging is a mental and emotional problem that can only be cured by the person doing it, and they will probably never be honest enough with themselves to try. That means the rest of us basically have to decide whether we can tolerate that sort of person, or if we simply have to get away from them. The latter can be most difficult, especially if the culprit is your boss or your spouse. © 2013


Sixbears said...

I have a very low tolerance for it.

My wife got on my case about a job she wanted me to do, and it had only been 15 years since she last bugged me about it.

I guess I'm lucky she's not a nagger.

Gorges Smythe said...

She's lucky that she's got you, instead of someone like me, Sixbears. I just don't know if I could have been as tolerant as you! ;-)

Linda said...

I think, as with nagging, people who gossip about others also have a low self esteem.

Gorges Smythe said...

No doubt, you're right, Linda.