Who Matters?

Is change really possible or is that just an oxymoron? The older I get the more I doubt my ability to significantly alter or even modify my inherently stubborn nature.

Isn’t that the most cynical thing you’ve ever heard? What’s wrong with me?

I know John Lennon died forty years ago, but it’s December, the hygge* month, our buddy Christ is coming, my daughter Kelley was born, and I’m being a total curmudgeon. But stay with me, I don’t want to go treasure hunting alone, and who knows what we will discover?

It’s not as if I’ve conducted a study, or have some highfalutin degree in behavior analysis, these are my rudimentary observations, as if a Monday morning quarterback who never played the game. Feel free to blow my theories to smithereens in the comments. That’ll be fun.

Here’s the thing, I have noticed that some people (we’ll not mention names), as a default mechanism, tend to discourage, criticize, and rebuke others. Not all three at once, but singly, or in heady combinations, mixed with a few innocuous comments as camouflage. It flows from some sort of scan for the negative type of mentality, and as if water without a dam, the words just flow. Yes, the double meaning is intentional. Bahaha

Please don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. We all do this on occasion.

The problem is we act on our beliefs, and if they are egregious enough, negative actions will follow. Consider Mark David Chapman who was so enraged by John Lennon’s lifestyle, he felt compelled to get on a flight from Hawaii, lie in wait, after putting four bullets in John’s back, Mark sat there reading Catcher in the Rye until his arrest. I realize this is an extreme example, most people just ignore the people they don’t like, but indifference can be as potent as hatred, as we learned in WWII.

Then there are the Pollyanna types, who search for, and somehow find the smallest amount of good in everyone. I mean it could be the most obscure trait known to woman [inclusively], but they find it, and focus on it as if it were a noble characteristic. It could as minor as making eye contact with the family dog, not biting your nails at the table, or sporting tattoos without cuss words? Right? It’s the little things that count.

Most of us fall in between these two extremes, but trust me when I say no one lives in the middle, we lean to the left or right of the spectrum, no exceptions. Of course this might have something to do with how much sleep one has procured, how much wine has been consumed, or the current levels of stress in ones life, but that’s beside the point, because we all know our intrinsic nature, along with the characteristics that dominate our interactions with others. Own it.

The oddest thing about these observations is this; the person under scrutiny usually responds by affirming our initial beliefs about them, unless they’re Jesus or my sister. Read that again.

I mean why should I give a shit if I already know you think I’m inadequate? And by the way, it’s total bullshit if you think the other person doesn’t know your true feelings just because you’re oozing with false tolerance, forced charm, or ingenuous kindness Pinocchio.

Love and acceptance is felt on a cellular level, it’s intuitive, and if you’re the developmental equal of a slug, you’ll know.

I remember attending a work event in my early twenties (yes I can still remember that far back), still wet behind the ears, it was a new job, and I didn’t know very many people. I was wearing a snazzy suit and it felt as if I was playing dress up. I worked up the courage to approach a table with an empty seat and politely asked if I could join. Here’s the problem, I didn’t know the women who failed to get the job I was hired to do was sitting at that table. Yes she was, and me being a little sluggish, had no clue.

It’s funny, I can’t even remember her name, but her face is engraved in my memory, she said, in a rather nasty tone, “no that seat is saved for someone else.” Everyone at the table stared at me like I was a contagion.

I said as sweetly as possible, “okay,” quickly turning away before anyone noticed my beet read face. This is when another co-worker graciously grabbed an empty chair from another table and invited me to sit down.

With relief, I said, “thank you.”

The girl continued to glare at me from across the small table, I wasn’t completely ignorant, so I tried to avoid eye contact. Ten minutes into an awkward table vibe, she loudly expressed her irrational concern for my hair, she said, “you really need to get to the hair dresser, your roots are showing.”

I excused myself and went home.

I wonder how her roots are doing now? (not that I’m holding a grudge or anything)

Honestly, if you don’t like someone why should they try and be helpful, cooperative, considerate when they’re forced to be with you? It’s not going to change your opinion of them in the slightest, in fact I’ve noticed it has the exact opposite effect, as if your every action is tainted with their initial observations. It’s a destructive cycle and no one wins.

It’s easy to find corroborating evidence in support of our opinions, whether it be politics, people, or persuasions, because we reject what doesn’t fit, and make up the rest. We’re incredibly talented sleuths when it comes to substantiating our opinions of others but the truth is they are actually misdirected reflections of ourselves.

It’s a social virus, passed communally, and the super spreaders are the ones with the lowest self-esteem. So how do we protect ourselves from this contagion without a vaccine? Yeah, I went there.

Again, the reign of God is like a merchant man, seeking valuable pearls. Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46

We just found the pearl of great price, think about it, if people naturally confirm your beliefs about them, what if we stacked the deck in our favor? This is what your bartering for, if we want great marriages, friendships, relationships then we have to find the good in each other, and concentrate on that, as if our lives depended on it, because deep down we all want to matter. As Tony Dungy says your mind is more powerful than you think. What is down in the well comes up in the bucket. I love that!

Start with the next person you come across, especially someone who needs to go to the hairdresser, let’s be hyper vigilant about our attitude, and resolve to find one thing about them that is positive (you might find two, in this case more is better). Stand back, because when you let someone know they matter, it alters the fabric of the world in which you exist, in which we all exist.

Is change really possible? Can we actually transform our hearts, become a people who are quick to praise, slow to find fault, and rather than complain we thank each other? Yes we can. Here’s to stocking the well with good cheer, hope, and love because you matter!

I’m Living in the Gap, scanning for good, and my heart grew three sizes today.

What do you think? Change? Is it possible? Leave a few thoughts in the comments.

*Hygge is a term used to denote a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. It’s trending.

Anecdotes:

  • Be the type of person you want to meet. Golden Flower
  • You are surrounded by endless possibilities with your potential being the sum total of your beliefs. Steven Redhead
  • Surround yourself with those conducive to you being your highest self. A.D. Posey

23 Comments

Leave a Comment

  1. I might be causing offence here, but I am going to suggest that all these random thoughts are part of ‘Christmas stress’. One of the main reaons why I don’t like Christmas.
    (Sorry if that’s too personal)
    Change is always possible, whether forced opon us, or embraced. But it doesn’t follow that change is a good thing. In my own experience it usually isn’t.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No offence at all Pete, you might be spot on, and I love that you always speak your truth, including your dislike of Christmas. It is a stressful time, especially for women, but maybe with the pandemic, and all the adjustments we are being forced to make this year, we’ll discover advent can be much simpler experience? The decorations, the meals, the gifts might be at odds with a more peaceful, hopeful, and joyful experience of Christmas? I suppose change can be both good and bad, depending on the circumstance, 2020 is certainly a shinning example. I pray 2021 is radically different but not everything. Warmly, C

      Liked by 2 people

  2. love this; thank you. i’m going to try for the next 10 minutes to find the good in everyone i meet. (if i’m lucky, no one will come through the door.) And then, I’ll try for 10 more minutes … it seems a laudable goal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, conflicts with primary relationships can certainly seep out into our lives, unintentionally tainting interactions with others. That gives me something to think about Kim. I’m always trying to understand ingenuous and unkind behavior? Thanks for the comment. C

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Awe, thank you Gail, you just made my day. I miss our daily interactions at Akimbo, that seems like a lifetime ago, to to think we were just entering into quarantine! Crazy. Merry Christmas Gail, hope your family is healthy and safe! 💕C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi LaDonna, you are so right, “reaffirming the inherent worth” of others is vital in our world and indeed necessary if we hope to thrive. Thank you for your comment and reminder of the inherent worth of everyone, especially those who are suffering. Warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So much good stuff to think about here. I do think our personalities are hard-wired to a certain degree but we can change. It’s never easy, of course. I know in my case, I’m a natural-born whiner. My mom was before me. It’s just how we deal. Now, I try not to give into that impulse, though it’s always there–when something doesn’t go my way. In fact, friends who don’t know me really well think I’m a very positive person, so my act has fooled some. Really, I think, eventually the act will become me. But it does take work and time!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Rebecca! I agree with you, we are definitely hard-wired from birth, impacted I’m sure by nurture, and peers? But the opportunity to change is always available if you want to put in the effort. Kudos to you that positivity is something you aspire to and obviously you have been quite successful at projecting to others! Thank you so much for your comment, I appreciate your thoughts, hope to meet you here in the comments again soon. All my best, C

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I never could understand how people could say such horrible things. I always wondered why they had such a sad life to treat others so poorly. I have always made it a challenge to change a crabby person into a better mood. If I had a crabby cashier, I will tell them how nice their hair looks etc. A few months ago my family doctor was in a horrible mood. So I asked about his family and he turned completely around. I’m sure Covid and Christmas has had a huge impact on everyone, it has with my family and me! I just keep telling myself we have peaks and valleys, time for the peaks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that Diane, “time for some peaks,” I couldn’t agree more. I like how you identified something important, people need validation, and support. How easy is it to ask someone how they are doing and actually listen? It changes everything. Love that you do that for the people you encounter in life. I’m inspired, C

      Like

    1. I totally agree with you Crystal, if we’re not growing, I believe we’re dying in a spiritual sense. And trying to enact change on our own can be daunting and impractical in some circumstances. I have girlfriends who push me towards growth on all sorts of things, I’m grateful for their honesty, and desire to help me flourish despite myself. My love to you, C

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Well…
    This is a more serious tome. You ask: “Is change possible?” I contend that it is required. Status quo is not possible. You either get better or worse. If your writing is not improving (yours is,) then it is getting worse. No one is stable on the ventilator. They are either improving or dying. It is the nature of life. Do traits change? Yes, but not always in the way you think or want. Sometimes they just get more so. I have noted that the older people get, the more they start to not give a damn what other people think. Maybe it is a failure of the filter (a breaking of the damn?) Maybe it is the loss of the sense of negative social implications. Who knows?
    I like your psychoanalysis of people’s interactions. It is way easier to rip someone else’s efforts, rather than do something constructive. Easy to suggest what others should do. Reminds me of the millions of meetings I have attended, presided over etc., where the peanut gallery suggest we do some labor-intensive bullshit project, but when its time to put in the sweat equity, the peanut gallery vanishes. I say pound sand. When people hide in group speak, the words flow as you say, but they are not backed up by one-on-one direct social interaction. Don’t tell me something can’t be done. We can do it. Look at the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall, the new vaccine in 9 months etc. They couldn’t be done, but they were.
    Love your analysis of the human quest to instantly assess people and place them on the scale. Do we inherently look for the good or the bad? Do we vary how we look at people? If you like or love someone, do you tend to not note their obvious faults? While looking at others and finding the tiniest faults? And of course, when we subtly treat someone worse because of perceptions, they respond as anyone would, which worsens the situation and confirms our bias. Do we tend to note the mote in other’s eyes, while ignoring the beam in thine own? And yes, Confirmation Bias is a real thing. You see it in the news, in multiple social interactions and in a broad overlay of society in general. Both the left and right are profoundly guilty of this. It is innately obvious, though we fail to see it (of course you drilled it.)
    I hope you forgive/forgave the lady who was viciously resentful that you “stole her job.” The ability to remember a slight for decades while failing to forgive is a strong Severance trait. I am sure you got it from your mother. 😉
    On to the pearl of great price. You reap what you sew. If you think people are great, and treat them with an unabashedly favorable approach, you will reel it back in spades.
    PS: I love Christmas. Nothing brings a family together more than a celebration of joy, despite an otherwise dreary time. Live, love, learn and pass it on. Create those memories, if not for yourself, then for the ones you love.
    PPS The people who treat me poorly, especially at work, tend to be under tremendous stress, have had major losses or are otherwise in a bad way. Lighten the load for them if you can.
    PPPS Who the heck is Golden Flower?
    Enjoy your Christmas Wrapping!

    Back to the old Netflix and Chill.

    Like

    1. Love your response to this one Mike, I did move into a more serious territory, I keep wavering between wanting to spread some laughter and good cheer, against the anguish and suffering I see happening all around me. It feels both arrogant to ignore and deplorable not to relieve the pain, fear, and frustration caused by this crazy virus. And I’m not so skilled in finding the middle ground.

      My husband is not a fan of this sort of post, he prefers I stick with real stories, and maybe the things rooted in reality as opposed to my unwarrented musings on the nature of being human. He has a point. But then again, I get bored with the same old, same old.

      We’ve been spending so much time in isolation it’s hard to ignore your own thoughts. The weird thing is I think everyone has the same ideas as me, that we’re all on the same page, and it seems as if I’m simply stating the obvious. Then Larry observes, “are you out of your mind?” And I look around if only to locate myself, “no, I’m right here, thank you for your concern.” He begs, “maybe stick to what you know.” See I think I am?

      Larry’s vision is much more secular or temporal in nature, and so as you might guess, we have a sliver of things in common: eatting, drinking, and resting. Bahaha!

      I did forgive the lady who called out my neglected roots but I wonder where she is today? I imagine her style may have been a deterent to various paths of success? Who knows? She might be a CEO, living in a penthouse, overlooking central park?

      I have no idea who Golden Flower is, it was a quote I scribbled in my notebook, and thought it fit. I went to look her up and found nothing? I could have made the whole thing up! Who knows?

      I love Christmas too, all of it, the cold, the trees, the decorations, the darknes, the food, the lights, and gifts, but especially being wrapped up with the family! Total bliss.

      All my love, Cheryl

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s