What Being “High Maintenance” Says About You

Robby Bradfordcharacter, discipleship, growthLeave a Comment

Sometimes people give me a hard time about being “high maintenance” when it comes to coffee.  I am a coffee snob, no doubt.  I’ll confess to purge my soul of it, only to insist that very little coffee is great and I would rather go without it than drink gas station, American diner sock water.

But in all seriousness, I have become increasingly aware that “high maintenance” is a kind of soul cancer.  When you possess attitudes that require everyone else around you to subscribe to your exactingly high (and ridiculous) standards, it likely says more about you than the world you are wanting to cater to your temperamental and perhaps exotic desires.

Below are some thoughts about what “high maintenance” perspectives say about the person who is that way.  Maybe right now, you’ll be able to think of someone else you love who is high maintenance, and you’ll want to share this very post on their page.

So what does being “high maintenance” say about you?

  1. Self is king (or queen) in your life.  When you’ve got to have everything exactly a certain way, it’s the tell-tale sign that you think a little too much about what you like. Maybe you just think you’re particular or you’ve got high standards, but I’d suggest that it means you think you are more important than anyone else.
  2. You have set a shallow threshold for joy.  Yeah, insisting that the food be served or the clothes be worn or the manners of others happen in a certain way are not very deep reasons for being content.  Like a shallow lake that is easily churned up by even a weak storm, the person who is constantly allowing the lack of adherence to their own standards by others or by circumstances is headed to a tumultuous life.  Peace and joy rarely fill the life of a person who is constantly needing everything to be perfect in order to enjoy life.  
  3. You condition yourself for grumbling.  High maintenance folks end up complaining more than other people.  Whether it’s sending the salad back because you asked for the dressing on the side or feeling like you just weren’t noticed enough by the important people in the room, high maintenance attitudes lead to a lot of soul-killing grumping.  Consider the ideal of Philippians 2:14–“Do everything without grumbling or complaining.”
  4. Judgmentalism leads your interactions with others.  Don’t miss the obvious truth here.  If you are given to a high maintenance temperament, you likely judge others as coming short in the quality department.  Manners.  Food.  Hospitality.  Clothes.  Care.  Ability.  You name it, you likely judge others as less than your standards if you’re given to high maintenance ways.
  5. You’re likely feeding low self-esteem and pride at the same time.  Often, the high maintenance prince or princess is looking for significance in the lunch they were served, their appreciation of the speaker at the conference or the kind of flowers that were on the desk in the reception to cultivate an inner sense of importance.  Often, the petty, trivial, vain or shallow person is struggling with feelings of insignificance on the inside.  Ironically, the same person who feeding a sense of low self-esteem may also be nurturing pride at the same time.  Pride puts satisfaction of one’s self at the center of every experience.  That’s what the high maintenance person is all about.
I love the words of Viktor Frankl that ring true:  “When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.”
If you tilt toward high maintenance royalty, you might ask yourself why you are so fixed on making every day and every moment charged with the most perfect kind of pleasures.  It’s the kind of reflection that just might revolutionize your life.  
If you could rid yourself of the worst habits of the self-contented high maintenance person, you would not only become instantly more likable and attractive as a person, but you would also take on, in increasing measure, all kinds of positive character qualities.  Things like humility, sincerity, honesty, gratitude, love, forgiveness, patience and generosity (just to name a few) would grow in greater abundance in your heart.
I think I’m going to seek to squelch all the high maintenance tendencies in myself this month.  Pass me some of that awful coffee you’re drinking!  

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