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AnonymousWoman's avatar

Could an obsession with correcting others stem from a habit of defending a religion?

Asked by AnonymousWoman (6336 points ) February 13th, 2012

I grew up in a very strict religious household. Somewhere along the line, I remember learning that as a Christian, it was important that I stand up for God. This resulted in me feeling that if anyone said anything I considered “wrong” about God, it was my job to “correct” him or her. It was my job to “set that person straight” and not let anyone “lie” about God and “ruin” his “perfect” reputation. This became a habit. In my teen years, I wanted to get away from this religion, to start over, and make sure I knew I believed in what I believed in because I believed in it, not ‘cause my parents did. I have been told that my correcting other people is annoying. Before today, I don’t remember making this connection before—that my correcting others might have to do with an earlier habit. Is it possible that such a habit would result in this? Feeling the need to defend myself when I feel misunderstood? Or when I feel somebody else is being unfairly treated? Could this be why I am so obsessed with correcting others when I am and with making sure they see things exactly how I feel they are meant when I get that way? How can I tell when it’s time for me to walk away? What can help me not be so defensive in the future?

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17 Answers

auhsojsa's avatar

It sounds to me like you’ve had an epiphany and realized this all on your own. You got to remember everyone has their own choice of perception to an agreed reality. Live your life, drop your defensive feelings, you have nothing to prove to anyone.

9doomedtodie's avatar

Don’t always give your advice or suggestion to the people. There are many who usually take it in a wrong way. If you know anyone is doing wrong or per you it’s wrong. It’s not like all people see the world as you do. Sometimes, it’s better not to let those things come out of your mind. Keep those things in your mind. Many a times it happens that the person whom you are correcting disagrees with you, though you know you are correct. Such people only divulge the things and make fun of it.

augustlan's avatar

It may be connected, but I also have a bad habit of correcting people, and I didn’t have a strict religious upbringing. I have no idea what makes me think it’s my job to correct others, but I didn’t even realize it was rude until well in to adulthood. I’ve tried to get better about it (and have succeeded somewhat), but it’s still a bit of a problem.

My advice is to pay attention to your thoughts before you speak, if you can. If it’s a trivial matter, make an effort to stay silent on it.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it probably has to do with how you were raised, but not connected really to being raised religiously. Or, maybe more accurately people are like this for a variety of reasons. I was raised basically void of religion, but I too tend to correct people. One thing that drives this trait in me is I hate to be misunderstood or misperceived, so I try to defend and explain myself, convince others. I also was raised by people who had an incredible breadth of knowledge, and who asked a lot of question and did research when wanting to know an answer. So, when we hear something that doesn’t sound right, we question it, and for some, just being questioned sounds like we are correcting them.

If you can tell someone is resistant to new information, just let it drop. Some people hate to be challenged or discuss, they just want people to agree with them. You need to learn to recognize it in others, and probably recognize it when you are doing it yourself. You are probably sometimes being as stubborn as the person you are speaking to.

thorninmud's avatar

I’d say it comes from having a strong sense of certainty about what’s right and what’s wrong. Most religion tends to give people the feeling that they have the right understanding of how things are, a view that’s been endorsed by the creator of the universe. That gives you a lot of confidence in the rectitude of your view, probably a lot more than if you had had to struggle through all of the ambiguities of reality to arrive at your own views.

Still, there is an element of personality, too. I was raised in the same kind of religious environment as you. I was taught that it was my responsibility to set people right. I was never able to completely buy into the certainty thing, though, and that prevented me from enthusiastically championing my view. It does seem like some people are just more inclined than others to latch onto a particular way of seeing things, to the exclusion of other ways. Others have a greater tolerance for ambiguity.

smilingheart1's avatar

Sometimes misunderstood Christian principles and doctrine plus a natural bent towards perfectionism in the way one is wired equals a lifetime of searching for true peace. I understand a fair bit about this after my own journey and the real light is freeing. Discovery and growth is well worth realizing that although light is white and dark is a shade of black, life on this planet is marbled grey. just keep going after the truth until you see whatever you need to recognize.

Rock2's avatar

Practically all human behavior is “over determined”. That means there are many reasons for one’s behavior. Keep looking for reasons for your behavor but realize you may never find the real reasons.

This also reminds me of the “lampost theory”. A man, next to a lampost, is down on all fours looking for something. Another man comes along and asks what he is looking for. The first man says I lost my watch about a block from here. The second man says: “Then why are you looking here?” The first man says: ” Because the light is better”.

wundayatta's avatar

Since I don’t really know what any of you mean by “obsession with correcting others,” I can’t really tell if any of our experiences are very similar. I always thought righteousness was common among the young and the idealistic. The young think they know everything and the idealistic thing that what they know has to be right.

The truth is that people, including the young, know very little. We tend to see other people as being more knowledgeable and confident than we are, and so in our insecurity, I believe, we act like we are more knowledgeable and confident than we really are. This could lead to the “correcting” behavior.

I was always rather insecure. I think that I acted more like I knew something in order to compensate for the insecurity. I wouldn’t be surprised if that plays a role in other people who come on strong telling people what is right.

The older I get, the less I seem to know. But I feel more tolerant of others who think they know things. I remember the days when I knew things. I can still act as if I know things, but really, it’s just a convention. This is how we interact. But don’t be fooled. I may say things like they are the truth. The real truth is that I’m not at all sure.

I don’t think.

Maybe.

Oh who knows?

digitalimpression's avatar

If you were taught to correct people than it stands to reason that you will continue to do so and develop a habit.

Feeling the need to defend myself when I feel misunderstood?
I think a lot of people struggle with this. It’s just being human imho.

Or when I feel somebody else is being unfairly treated?
I don’t see anything wrong with being concerned when someone is being unfairly treated.

Could this be why I am so obsessed with correcting others when I am and with making sure they see things exactly how I feel they are meant when I get that way?
Possibly. It depends on the depth of your ubpringing’s saturation in your mind. If you were “taught” in such a manner that it was more of a brainwashing.. then probably yes.

How can I tell when it’s time for me to walk away?
Early and often. If you think to yourself “I should probably walk away”, you’re probably right.

What can help me not be so defensive in the future?
Practice practice practice. Fluther is good therapy and will test your patience at times too.

mazingerz88's avatar

Yes, definitely. It’s just natural for people, not just the young to be idealistic about their beliefs, to feel challenged once those beliefs are either challenged or even ignored by others. Imho, now that you are able to reflect on it, describing it as an “obsession”, that means you are simply maturing as a human being.

SpatzieLover's avatar

It sounds to me to stem more from rigid thinking than it does from religion.

If the discussions in your home were black/white or right vs. wrong these are signs of rigidity.

6rant6's avatar

Seems more likely that a role model in your family corrected people and you grew up thinking that was how one demonstrated worth.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Very possible, for some. Interesting question.

flo's avatar

@AnonymousGirl Let me just refer to: ”Feeling the need to defend myself when I feel misunderstood? Or when I feel somebody else is being unfairly treated” These are good qualities. What if your family were Atheists, and they imparted these same qualities on to you? What is the difference as long as they are good qualities?

Paradox25's avatar

I can definitely identify with the religous part of your post as a former religionist myself. Getting back to actually answering your question I would say that perhaps in your case religion is a major reason for why you liken yourself to correcting others, I don’t know. On the other hand I have dealt with nontheists and their overly analytical personalities as well. Some people are just more analytical then others and the reasons for this I’m sure will vary from person to person.

mattbrowne's avatar

To me this looks like a case of

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsessive-compulsive_personality_disorder

Religion does not cause psychosis. Religion does not cause obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Religious people who suffer from either one will certainly show behavior that affects all aspects of their lives, whether it’s cleanliness rules or religious interpretations.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I have always heard that people who are extremely critical of others were raised with criticism themselves. It is a learned behaviour (habit). The only way religion comes into it is that by nature, religion offers a vehicle for people to justify criticising other people.

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