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.
- 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