Saturday, September 8, 2007

Fault-Finders and Appreciators

by Troy Chapman

There are two kinds of seeing in the world, two modes of looking at everything. The first is fault-finding mode. When we’re in this mode, all we look for are the flaws, sins and imperfections of people, situations and the world. Our eyes are tuned to the “what’s-wrong frequency.” The second is appreciation mode. In this mode we see flaws and imperfections but we’re not obsessed with them; we’re looking for something to appreciate and keeping our eyes tuned to the “what’s-good frequency.”

I’ve had friends of both persuasions and I can tell you the appreciators are a lot easier to be around than the fault-finders. Fault-finders are generally not too happy — self-satisfied, often, but seldom truly happy. And joy doesn’t exactly follow them around either.

Appreciators, on the other hand, are generally happy — they feed on appreciation, after all — and joy follows them around like the scent of lilacs.

We’ve all met both kind of seers in the world. We deal with them every day in countless different roles. Think about your experience with these two kinds of people for a minute and ask yourself this question: what kind of friend do you want to be to yourself?

We know that fault-finding is toxic to the people who do it and those to whom it’s done. We know, just as well, that appreciation is nourishing to both the people who practice it and the people it’s directed at. So if we practice either one of these within ourselves, we get a double dose of the fruit. If we choose fault-finding, we make ourselves sick by being a fault-finder and being a victim of a fault-finder.

If we choose appreciation, we heal ourselves by its practice and by virtue of being appreciated. To appreciate is simply to be aware of, to value and be thankful for. Not that difficult, really. Practicing it, however, is a choice and habit. Make the choice and follow it through and the habit will follow.

Here’s what I’ve found as I’ve tried to practice this: If I’m in a funk, depressed, angry, wallowing, it’s a red flag telling me I’ve shifted to fault-finding mode. These are always connected just as appreciation and contentment are connected. Indeed, appreciation is key to contentment, to well-being.

Deciding how we want to look at ourselves — as appreciators or fault-finders — is the same as deciding to be well or ill. We need to be a friend to ourselves, and a good friend, not one who’s constantly pointing out flaws we already know about. It’s something I’ve been striving to accomplish for years and still struggle with daily. I guess I’m making progress though, because now, instead of pointing out to myself daily that I still haven’t mastered it, I get up most days with an appreciation for my effort and tenacity, if nothing else. I’m still here and so are you. That’s worth appreciating.

Sketch by Troy Chapman


ted said...

thanks troy and maryann!

you definitely create appreciators with your wisdom!

i like this so much i've added it as my monthly quote for september! :)

here's the link:
lot's of other good stuff there too -

namaste ....... ted knerr

Anonymous said...

Hey, thank you for this post! I just had a confrontation with my best friend. I've discovered that we were both being fault finders during our back and forth jabs, which led us down a dark hole. I'm going to study being more appreciative, maybe next time this wont happen. Thanks again. You're very wise.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Sir Troy Chapman. I hope a friend of mine can read this and apply it to himself. The first thing he sees in a situation or even a picture are the flaws. I really want to correct him because sometimes its already hurting for the people he is with, especially me. Again, thank you very much and God bless!


milan said...

Thank you, How if your love are faultfinder?
Can you change them?
How can you protect yourself?

Friends of Troy Chapman said...


Thanks for your questions about fault finders.

First, let me say I know about fault finders because I used to be one. Even though it feels malicious, I wasn't driven by malice but by fears and insecurities. I had such a low opinion of myself that I wanted to point out others' flaws as a way to feel better.

I changed so it's certainly possible. But changing others is tricky business. Mostly the best we can do is give them insights into themselves. Whether they use these to change or not is up to them.

Protecting ourselves is certainly a legitimate concern and it begins by giving ourselves permission to be human. Often fault finders are able to hurt us because we secretly agree with their judgments of us. Once we give ourselves permission we might ask the fault finders to grant it also to both us and to themselves. Hearing it put this way might be the insight someone needs to see that this is really what being hypercritical is about: A refusal to let people be human.

It's a form of freedom we can grant: the freedom to make mistakes and be imperfect. We balance it with a commitment to do our best.