Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Other People's Perceptions

Many adults will tell you that they don't care one bit what other people think of them.  I can't speak to the veracity of that point of view, and though I wish I could embrace it myself, that's not how I think.  I do care what others think of me, probably far too much. It has always seemed to me that people who don't care about others' perceptions of them often don't care about their effect upon other people.  In other words, they don't care what you think of them, therefore they don't take care about how they treat others. 

Some of these people want to make sure that they appear benevolent on the surface, while just beneath the skin they manipulate and hurt others just for their own self-satisfaction and perceived powerfulness.  They often view such activity as an amusement  Their success is greatest when they can cause the maximum amount of damage while seeming to be in a highly trusted position.  

Others often want to give them a pass by saying that the devil is making them cruel and twisted.  Possibly, but there is that old sticking point -- free will.  Inspiration may belong to the infernal one but the follow-through is completely by a person's choice.  We all choose how nasty or nice we will be to others.  We also decide, if we don't ignore our conscience, that perhaps apologies may be in order for a misunderstanding that may have arisen by accident.

Why do apologies often fall on deaf ears?  How sincere are empty words, actually?  They come at no cost to anyone, and there's no sacrifice in saying that you're sorry.  How do you make someone believe you when anybody can say words without effort?   A few years ago I heard a speaker say that if you want to make a true apology, words are not enough.  Reparations must be made for the wrongdoing, even if it was unintentional in the first place.  

If you're truly sorry, let the victim know.  Then make reparations -- make it right.  Fix the damage in real terms.  Then decide within yourself to make the change.  When you wrong someone, you injure them, but you damage your character as well.  It's a part of what makes you, YOU.  Perhaps it is a part of your soul -- erode your soul and character at your own peril.   

I'm not much of a philosopher.  I'm a daydreamer at best.  Whether the world thinks that I'm right or wrong, I do care what people think of me.  I also care about my effect on others.  I want to be a beneficial part of their lives and I want them to care about me in return.  I was that silly little girl worrying about whether or not my pets were happy, and if cutting down a tree actually hurt it.  After all, when you chop down a tree, it will usually die.  

Maybe I believed too many of the myths about gods and goddesses testing the character of humans by hanging out with them to see how they would treat the downtrodden and dirty strangers who crossed their paths.  But then again, aren't there Bible stories as well, about angels among us to test kindness to the less fortunate among people?  Then again, what's the harm in being good to someone just for the sheer satisfaction of making someone else happy, or maybe because they need it and it's in your power to do so?  Even if nobody else ever finds out that you have done A Good Thing.  

As an adult, I say these things and then cringe because sometimes it seems as though I have nothing but negativity to show the world.  Isn't it strange that some people have such a horrible case of tunnel vision when they are sad?  We can have a stretch of happy and peaceful times, yet one errant negative rock comes crashing through the shiny little glass house we were safe in, and all of the walls shatter.  

Then we have to start over, because though the glass can be repaired, the cracks will always be there to threaten us of memories when we believed we were safe, yet proved horribly fragile.  

I am most definitely flawed, which is probably why I haven't been able to create for myself the life I had hoped to have.  I quite literally couldn't do it alone anyway.  Some things absolutely require the cooperation of others.  Some would rather leave you in the dust and forget you if it would take the slightest effort from them.  The best they can do is toss a cliche down to you on the ground, and they think it should make it all better.  :)  "Just cheer up."  "Just stop looking."  "Just be patient."  LOL  Words are free and mean nothing, remember?  We're emotionally lazy as humans.  We want what we want, and we want it to be showered upon us while someone else makes the effort.  Love me unconditionally, but don't ask me to be around you when you're not making things sunny for ME.  "Don't bring me down!  Just keep me happy!" 

I pray to improve, though I'm careful to not pray so that I grow by trial.  Lord, please teach me patience.  Wait!  Can you just GIVE me patience, please?  I don't want to have to learn it the hard way!  (That one is actually mine.  My mother taught me patience when I was six.  She taught me to crochet because I wanted to learn to make the beautiful lace she created.   35 years of practice… Yeah, I've learned that kind of patience very well.)

As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. 

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