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Eye of the Beholder

I’ve been turning over some things in my mind for the last few days and I just have to get them out.

I’ve spent a great deal of time freeing myself from the burden of other people’s opinions.  How are other people’s opinions a burden, you might ask?  Well, if you don’t know how much the average person is run by the concern that others will judge him or her for what they think, say or do, you haven’t been alive for very long.

Watch yourself sometime.  Try and do something you judge as “embarrassing” and see how much resistance you have to it.  Sing out loud in a crowded elevator.  Skip down the street.  Wear your pajamas to the mall.  Can’t do it, can you?  Of course not, you’d look stupid or even crazy.

Well, I no longer give a fuck what other people think of me.  One should have a healthy amount of self-consciousness, an awareness of your impact upon other people.  But when you constantly suppress and second-guess your actions, even ones you really want to take, it can be like living in a mental straight-jacket.  I had lived that way for far too long.  D-O-N-E.

And while this new-found freedom has been great for me, it sometimes leaves the people I interact with wanting.  Inevitably, I end up doing something that frustrates or pisses someone else off.  It’s like wading through an emotional minefield and it can be a real mess if you step on something you didn’t mean to.

To some people I’m the nicest, most generous person they’ve met.  I’m sweet and funny and kind.   But then there are others who think I can be rude, thoughtless and self-serving.  I’m just being me.  I can’t control how you interpret what I say and do.  And honestly, I wouldn’t want to.

I know that one area where I’m totally hit or miss is when someone needs something from me.  If someone comes to me with a specific need or request and I’m able to accommodate them, I give without thinking twice.  I did this just recently and totally made someone’s day but it was nothing to me.  I had no attachment to the item and thought they’d enjoy it more.

However, if someone wants or needs something from me that’s more nebulous or emotional, or they expect that I should figure out what they want without asking me (because that’s what they’d do), well sorry, I guess I am thoughtless.  I don’t sit around wondering what I should do for other people.  I’ve got other things going on in my head.  I’m not a mind reader and I don’t assume things.  I don’t feel that I’m in the right or wrong on this issue, it’s just how I am.   KNOW THY SELF.  This is one of the most important things you can ever strive for in life.  Take the time to get to know yourself, without labeling your behavior as good or bad.  How do you react, how do you decide, how do you feel about things?  Then, when you can see your automatic ways of behaving aren’t what the situation calls for, you can choose to take a new action.  You may fail.  You may upset someone.  Apologize if necessary.  Explain your motives.  Move on.

So much of life is used up in futile and meaningless ways.  So much unnecessary anger and suffering.  So many unintentional slights and insults.  Be secure in your own self and no one can control you.  Or stated a better way — When you are no longer impacted by what another says, does or thinks (either positively or negatively) then you are truly free.

If someone doesn’t like what you did but you feel it was the correct course of action, you just have to live with their displeasure.  That took me a long time to understand.  I used to think that if someone was unhappy with me then I must have done something wrong.

I’ve always been generous towards other people’s shortcomings, even to a fault.  Sometimes not speaking up when I could have pushed them a little more.  This too is something I’m working on.  I have something to contribute, and I shouldn’t fear it any longer.

You can’t make everyone happy and it’s not your job.  And other people are not going to constantly bow to your whims no matter how much they love you.  But you can try to see their point of view and if it makes sense, cut them some slack.  If they need a kick in the ass, be bold enough to go there too.

People are who you think they are.  Why not choose to see them in their best light?  I’ve seen criminals behave heroically and good men lie.  We’re only human and we’re all just doing the best we can.

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