Trying to Stay Sane…

…In an insane situation. Those who know, know.

Excerpt from my personal written reflections. How do you process other people’s behaviors? Do you try hard not to be judgmental, or are you unconcerned by what others do?

How Do You Understand Someone Else’s Behavior?

My understanding of someone else’s behavior: There’s an initial reaction/thought (ie first impression), and if I care enough: a secondary process of asking why, and then a tertiary ongoing response of observation and further processing of information picked up along the way. After the secondary response, I don’t coerce. If I care enough, what I do after the initial response is a good indicator of how much I care. I won’t demand for things that aren’t offered to me. Information that comes naturally is more reliable than interrogations and pushing the issue.

I do my best to be as objective as possible. There’s always two sides to a story. Someone else will always be feeling or thinking more than they say. No one is an open book. A person’s behavior enlightens someone else of their thoughts and emotions, and understanding another person’s behavior is entirely based on perception. The statement “what you see is what you get” isn’t really the whole truth, ever.

What are the contrasts? You meet and know people who believe that their perception is the only “true” perception. They believe they possess the true definition/explanation for someone else’s behavior based on their interpretation or view of behaviors. It’s one thing to disagree or discuss personal thoughts and feelings; it’s another thing to be aware of opposing opinions and dismiss them without even hearing them. This is just ignorance.

Then there’s another whole type of person who is given an explanation of the behavior in question and they outright refuse to see your perspective, let alone acknowledge your feelings and emotions, and consequently scorn you and maybe even accuse you of willfully deceiving them. This hasty conclusion of a closed and offensive mind, in my opinion, is unreasonable and destructive, especially in a friendship or relationship.

It isn’t an issue of approval. It’s an issue of acknowledgment and understanding. And some people are so self-absorbed that they obstinately refuse to consider a different side of things apart from their own interpretations. Anything that opposes their understanding is taken as a personal attack. It’s as if they are the only ones with legitimate thoughts and actions, and they continuously deride any opposition to what they feel. This doesn’t necessarily make them narcissists. They’re just that proud.

When a friend comes to me about something they feel strongly about, whether it’s a personal offense or a matter of opinion, I automatically mentally begin to ask ‘why’ they think and feel such a way. I may or may not come to an answer of my own gathering, but I fully understand that it is strictly my interpretation of events/behaviors. If something enlightens me along the way, my understanding adapts to what is reasonably presented. I always leave room for doubt. I openly admit that I am cynical and tend to favor negative interpretations. While I personally feel that people are  inherently self-serving, I know that not every person is 100% self-serving 100% of the time.

If I don’t like something, I don’t. If I’ve gathered enough evidence about a topic or question, I stick with my conclusion. I won’t proffer disagreement if it isn’t asked of me, though I’ll be nice about it if I am asked. Through my life, I’ve noticed that people tend to get defensive if you don’t agree with them. So why even bother saying anything at all?

But I’m not that cynical and negative.

There’s always going to be an exception to the rule — I’m no different than say Abraham when he pleaded with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of even ten believing souls. Because I know there is always an exception. The seen majority is not full proof of a personal perception. “Tolerance” in the truest sense of the word is acknowledging something you’re unfamiliar with or dislike, without constant derision; in other words, respectfully disagreeing without hostility. Tolerance has to do with your reaction to rejection, not agreement. Unless you’re both agreeing to disagree.

Of course, it takes two to achieve that sort of peace.

I don’t like confrontation, but I’m not afraid to put my foot down if I have to. It’s beyond devastating when someone you’re so close to falls into that proud category. If there’s anything I’ve learned this past year, it’s that nothing or no one in this world is ever for certain. I think cynicism is just a natural gift with growing older.

 

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