A spider spun a web between the branch of a tree and Farmer Brown’s barn. Now and then a leaf would fall into the web and tear it, and the spider would cut the silken strands attached to the leaf, and let the leaf drop to the ground. It would mend the web and return to its position in the centre, and wait.
It caught the occasional insect and lived.
Another spider nearby spun its web in the barn’s rafters. An owl lived in the barn, and every night it would take flight from the rafters in its search to find food. As it did so its wings would tear the spider’s web. The spider would mend the web, but it had a lot of mending to do. It used a lot of its silk, and it caught fewer insects. Over the weeks it starved, and died.
When I say, ‘don’t snipe’, I’m not suggesting you avoid shooting someone from a concealed position. I am suggesting you refrain from verbally attacking a loved one with petty insults.
Don’t snipe. Don’t tease. Don’t put someone down. Don’t be sarcastic. Don’t display contempt or disdain. Don’t nit-pick. Don’t punish someone with words.
If you do, retract it immediately. Don’t brush it off by saying, ‘I was only joking’. Instead, retract the comment and apologise.
Snipers are angry people who could look into themselves to discover what they are angry about, and then deal with it.
If you find yourself sniping at your friend or spouse, ask yourself why? Do you resent that person? Are you angry with them? What’s going on?
Discover what the problem is, and address it. That’s taking responsibility.
Every time we snipe at someone we cut one of the silken strands binding us to them. We sever a connection with them. If the relationship is an otherwise healthy one, in which there is nurturing and support, we can then repair the break and keep going. Our ‘web’ is not as strong as it could be, but it’s enough.
But why make work for ourselves?
If we snipe too often and sever too many silken strands, both we and our partner can lose heart trying to repair those connections. Eventually our web is in tatters. The relationship dies.
If you want the relationship to die, sniping isn’t the way to do it. It’s weak. It’s gutless. It’s immature. Find a responsible way to address the relationship. Either fix it, or end it with dignity. Just don’t snipe.
Don’t snipe at anything you find in the world. Don’t whinge. It’s easy to find fault, and to criticise. It may even briefly make you look clever, but if you go through life looking for ways to put something down you’ll find them, and pretty soon you’ll find yourself living in a world that you perceive to be universally defective. You won’t enjoy living in a world like that.
When you look for the good aspects of people, and of life, you’ll find them. And then you will find yourself living in a world in which people appreciate your company. It’s a world you’ll like.
In short, don’t snipe. Do the opposite. Get into the habit of giving at least one genuine compliment a day.
If you do snipe in any way, retract it immediately and apologise.