People are People, Just Like You

Hello, and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is a reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

People are simple, and stupid, and complex, and feeling, and wise, and fallible, and beautiful, and dark, and ugly, and so much more than we can ever convey with words. We know this because we know ourselves and deep down we know other people feel and think and go through what do, even though we rarely act like it.

We know we have rich inner lives, profound thoughts and feelings, shades of emotions, wants, and needs that language can scratch the surface of. We know there are reasons behind everything we do that rarely ever fall fully to one side of good or bad, selfless or selfish. There are more shades of human motivation and reason than there are stars in the universe or grains of sand on every beach but humans aren’t good with subtle shades of being or thinking.

We know that our psyches are deep and varied and we know that because of this, because every thought and action and all that we are is a product of all we have been through and sometimes all that many generations before us have been through, we know we are deserving of understanding and patience. Somehow, we know this, but at the same time, we know that other people are simple beings with simple and often nefarious motivations for doing what they do.

We forget that people are people, all over the world and all throughout time, same as we are.

They have the same thoughts, the same questions, the same failings and triumphs, the same daily, grueling, inner struggle between who they are and who they ought to be. They share the same complex inner life and painfully vague understanding of why they do what they do. They are hurt and hoping and fucking up, and we should be working harder to understand their needs and motivations, the way we would ask them to do for us.

We are too quick categorize and condemn each other in ways that are radically different from how we think of ourselves. They are mean. They don’t care. They aren’t good enough. They are stupid. They are trying intentionally to sabotage and set me back. They are the enemy, but it isn’t so simple. They are human, and so are we, and they do all the things they do for the same reasons as us. Because they don’t know any better.

 

Of course, in all the ways we are the same, there are as many ways in which we are different, and that is where the work of understanding happens. Besides the fact that we all come from different places and were born in different times, besides the fact that each of our parents was raised in a time with different struggles and different values, besides the fact that no two perspectives can ever be the same, we all simply have very different brains. We have different thoughts, needs, motivations, wants, and ideas about right and wrong and every shade in between.

Even on our best days, when we are listening well and using language as precisely as we can, no human language is articulate or exact enough to ever explain who we are, what we feel, and what our motivations and reasons may be. Each of us no matter how we reach out and to how many is alone within our own minds. We can never be understood and we can never fully understand, but we can try harder, and do better, and stop treating each other like simple beings and react with simpler solutions and emotions.

This week, before you judge who is right and who is wrong, who is worth listening to, and who is worth compassionate understanding, or friendship, just know that each person you encounter is a complex mix of history, culture, experience, emotion, and wisdom that you will never fully comprehend.

We owe it to ourselves to treat one another better. To owe it to each other to understand each other better. To step into each other’s shoes isn’t so hard when you stop acting as if you are the only one who can be right, who can be hurt, who can have needs, or can make mistakes.

This week, try to understand that you have no right to presume to know who a person is, why they do what they do, how they ought to act, or what help they need or don’t. Get to know people and do the hard work of letting them exist on a spectrum rather than at the easy to categorize extremes.

This world has become far too black and white, I’d love to see some grays, and one day, when we are better people than we are now, we might even be comfortable with color and hue and brightness too.

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Featured image via Unsplash

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You Will Be Misunderstood

Hello and happy Monday dear readers. I hope your day started off on the right foot, mine has been bumpy since I woke up. I was running late, I forgot half of what I needed for the day, and I have more to do than I have time to accomplish. It’s going to be rough but I’ll do my best to stay positive, or at least remember that if sometimes, just making it to the end of the day is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

This week I am thinking about how much time we all waste being frustrated with each other over misunderstandings. I think most conflicts are misunderstandings and most could be resolved if people realized that it is necessary to explain yourself sometimes and people should not just know what you meant or what you want.

I have a friend who thinks that if you don’t understand what they are saying it is because you are not listening. This can be incredibly frustrating when you are in fact doing the best you can because you really do care and you just miss her meaning. My friend just doesn’t understand that language and meaning are not black and white and that she must try a little harder to get her meaning across.

It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.

// Karl Popper

Language a slippery thing and humans, the inventors of it, are notoriously horrible at using it. Couple that with all the subtleties of tone, emphasis, and body language, plus whatever is going on the head of the person you are talking to, and you can see how being understood at all is a miracle.

I have noticed people have very little patience for being misunderstood. We want to say as little as possible and we don’t like to repeat ourselves. We lash out at another person for taking our words the wrong way and ever even consider that half the fault might lie with us. You may have to elaborate, you may have to explain, you may have to try more than a few times, but stay calm and don’t give up.

It takes two people to give words meaning, the one saying and the one hearing. Think of any interaction as two (or more) people working as a team to give words meaning. You cannot do it all on your own and you cannot make it all about you.

Don’t get defensive, don’t get frustrated, that only makes things worse. If you yell or give up the people around you will too. If you are misunderstood, if your words are taken the wrong way, if a mistake is made because someone thought you wanted one thing and you asked for another, just stop, start over, and take the time to try again. It won’t cost you much and, in the end, your relationships remain intact and you feel better for it.

No one is an island and you cannot pretend for long that connecting with others is not important. Just make sure you are doing your part before blaming someone else for misinterpreting your words.

Featured image via eflon

Monday Motivation // Be as Gentle With Yourself as You are With Other People

Hello dear readers, and welcome to the beginning of the work week. For me this one is dreary. We have clouds and rain, and I want nothing more than to get back into bed where I can be cozy and warm. The day must begin whether I am ready to begin with it or not, and it would be better to accept it. Let’s do our best to meet the demands of the world with enthusiasm and motivation, to the best of our ability of course.

This week that is harder for me than usual. I am going through one of those periods where I feel inadequate to handle the expectations my bosses have for me. I feel like I have been and will continue to make mistakes and blunders until all of them see me as the failure I am and choose to fire me.

Deep down I think this is why I hate Mondays. Over the weekend, I am free from the demands and criticisms of the world. At home, in bed, I can make no mistakes and let no one down. At home, I am free to be who I want without the restrictions of workplace etiquette and rules. At home, I am not afraid to do things because there no one can tell me I am wrong, and no one can make me feel angry at myself/

“When you slip up and let yourself back into old, toxic patterns of thinking, forgive yourself before you try to fix yourself.”

// Vironika Tugaleva

I know, I know, I shouldn’t be thinking that way. Many of the people close to me, mostly my girlfriend, hate to hear me talk about myself as if I can’t do anything right as if I am inherently bad and capable of nothing but mistakes. They would tell me I am smart and that I do many things right, and when I am rational I believe them, but it only takes one tiny mistake to make me forget it again.

Last week I made a mistake and brought home keys from work that were needed there. My boss had to text me to ask where they were, and I reached into my pocket and felt them there. I always try so hard not to forget to turn the keys back in but this particular day I had had two sets in my pocket and being used to only having to turn in one I never checked my pockets again for the other.

I immediately felt that I had messed everything up for everyone else. People were not going to be able to do their jobs because I had forgotten to check my damn pockets. I was sure everyone was angry with me and frustrated by the situation. I thought they all must be sitting around saying bad things about me, and I began to say those things to myself too.

It was a small mistake, but it crushed my view of myself. At that moment, I believed I was just the worst!

This morning I came in hanging my head and apologizing as I turned the keys back into my boss. She looked like it didn’t even matter, she told me everything was fine. It was just keys and anyway, there were spares, duh! It wasn’t a big deal at all and I had been hard on myself for no reason.

I should have been easier on myself.

“Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.”

// Albert Camus

If one of my friends or loved ones had made that same mistake, I would have told them it was no big deal at all and reassured them that no one thought badly of them for such a small thing. I would have encouraged them not to worry about it further. I might even have laughed and thought it was funny. So, why isn’t that I can’t do that for myself? Why are all my mistakes a matter of life and death? Why do my mistakes mean that I am a bad person?

The answer is because I cannot accept that I will make mistakes just like everyone else does, and I can’t allow myself the forgiveness I afford others. I should, though. We all should. People are just people, and we can’t help fumbling and fucking up sometimes. It is a part of who we are and the occasional blunder can lead to unexpected results. Sometimes things turn out better than if we had done them “right” and sometimes we really learn something. And even if neither happens it reminds us to be humble and never to let our egos get ahead of us.

We are flawed, there is no perfection, in any of us. Wherever you think you see it is nothing but an illusion and even that will fail someday.

So, go easy on yourself. You are doing your best and deserve the same patience, understanding, and forgiveness you would give every other person in the world.

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Misunderstandings Happen All the Time, Especially in Relationships

When you are in a relationship, especially a long-term relationship, misunderstandings ca happen a lot. When both parties in the relationships come from families that do not communicate their feelings well, misunderstandings happen all the time.

I’ve been with my girlfriend, fiance actually, for almost 13 years now, we’ve lived together for 11 of those 13 years. I love her more than anything and because of that everything that happens between is more intense. Our happy times are euphoric, our sad times are devastating, and our anger is hot and impassioned.

We can move from one emotional state to another quickly and without warning. Often we find ourselves unsure of exactly we got wherever we are, especially when we fight. It’s never about something big or something easy to define. We never fight about money and jealously is a rare problem for us. Instead it seems to always be some small misunderstanding.

I think these fights can sometimes be be harder to resolve than the big ones. These fights are so often reoccurring and leave both parties feeling defensive, exhausted, and confused.

It always starts with something that has nothing to do with what the fight ends up being about. It starts because one of us is making us both late to an engagement, or maybe one of us had a bad day, or maybe both of us are stressed about work. Whatever it is it’s set of by the wrong words, a weird tone, a bad look, something that gives one of us a reason to start some shit and release the anger building in us.

We don’t do it on purpose and the thing we choose to make a big deal about is often nothing more than a misunderstanding. Nothing more than a negative perception of something the other person did or said. The other person tries to explain but it doesn’t go well. One gets too defensive, the other feels invalidated, which escalates things.

The argument twists and turns, eventually it becomes about how things are being said and not about what is being said. We move father and father away from the possibility of a resolution as the problem becomes fuzzier and fuzzier. We both say things the wrong way, we both yell and cuss. Next thing you know we can’t tell who is right or wrong or how to fix any of it.

All we know is the other hurt us and we are mad about it.

After some time to cool down we eventually get to a point where we can try again we do. We try to explain ourselves and our intentions and remind the other that this was all a misunderstanding. Sometimes it works right away, and sometimes we have to go through the cycle another time or two, but eventually we get there. We come to an understanding.

I wish I could say that it happens less and less over time but the truth is quite the opposite. More and more we misunderstand each other, more and more things are taken personally.

I really think it’s because we love each other so much. It’s because of that love that any negativity felt from the other one hurts more than from anyone else. We fight because we have to show the other how much a roll of the eyes, or a condescending tone, can cut us.

We also fight to defend our love for the other despite the eye roll and the tone. We want the other to know that while we might have gone about things the wrong way, we didn’t mean to cause such a big fuss and we cerrtainly didn’t mean to cause any harm.

We misunderstand each other all the time. Those misunderstandings lead to hurt feelings, which get expressed as anger, which is then misunderstood as an attack. But in the end, we love each other and we always work it out.

NaBloPoMo July 2015
In response to July NaBloPoMo prompt: Tell us about a time when you were deeply misunderstood. How did you fix the situation?

Can I Get a Little Understanding?

I think about the concept of “understanding” a lot. I wonder if a person can ever truly understand another person? I wonder if anyone has ever truly understood me? And I wonder why we all have this desire to be understood at all?

One of my biggest motivations for writing is to try my best at explaining myself as plainly as possible. I want to explain everything about myself. Why I am the way I am, why I think the way I think, how the world appears to me, and what I think people ought to do. I want to explain where I have been and where I am going, and why. I want everyone to know that someone like me exists.

As much as I am driven to be understand, I am driven to understand too. I want to know people. I want to know where they come from and how they have lived. I want to know what they see and feel and I want to know what drives them forward. I want to know that other people who exist too.

So far my need to be understood, and to understand, has not been resolved. People generally misunderstand me but I think it is more my fault then theirs. I just haven’t learned to articulate my thoughts as well as I would like. Not only that but all words and phrases in any human language can have multiple meanings. We can be easily misunderstood by things that have nothing to do with the words we are using. Context, tone, body language, even the other person’s mood can affect how we are understood.

For me, it feels like something always goes wrong and my words never mean precisely what I want them to mean.

Writing helps though. People aren’t inherently good at listening, not in my experience anyway. They don’t like to hear another person talk about themselves for too long. They like to get to the part where they get to say what they want to say. But with writing I can ramble on as much as I want about whatever I want and people will read it and actually take in my words. They have to wait until I am done to respond.

It may sound a little narcissistic, but all I want is to be heard, to be known to others. With writing I find that more and more my words are doing what I want them too, and other people are understand exactly what I mean to say.

NaBloPoMo July 2015

In response to July NaBloPoMo prompt: Do people generally understand what you’re trying to say?

A Bit of Free Writing About Myself and Why I Am Here

I am one of those difficult people. I feel things deeply and I overthink everything. I talk a lot and in my mind everything leads to everything else. I exhaust people. I love hard and my relationships can get intense and dysfuntional. I’m moody too. One minute I am happy and joking, the next my feelings are hurt and I am embarassed and angry. I love to laugh and I often take jokes too far. I’m not good at knowing when enough is enough and I can be irritating. More than anything I want to be seen. I want people to look at me and see who I am.

I also have a tendancy to be the complete opposite of what I think I am. I have a tendancy to be the oppposite of what I was just yesterday. It is hard to get to know me although many people think they do. I overshare and tell people things about myself they wouldn’t want to know. I think I do this because no one suspects someone who overshares of having secrets. I have many though and they are buried deep. There is one person who knows me better than anyone though and I’m not even sure how well she knows me. I’m not sure how well I know myself. I want the world to see me but i don’t even know who I am.

I want to change. I want to be better and more open. I want to tell my story and heal. I want to show others the world that I see. I want everyone to be a little more like me. Don’t we all want that though? Everyone should be more sensitive. Everyone should love everyone else just a little more. Everyone should talk more and try to understand each other a little better. I think that is the path to a better world. Undertsanding, empathy, and love. See the whole world, the whole universe, understand it, and love it. This is the only life you get. It’s time we share our secrets and see each other for who we all are.

I guess that is what I want to do here. I want to see and be seen. I want to connect everything and love the universe and show you how to do the same. I’m not sure how to do that yet but I know my focus has to narrow. I want to write more about philosophy and science. I want to write about current events and the suffering I see. I want to write about how my heart hurts for myself, my family, and all of you. I want to write about things that are real that no one can see, and the things that aren’t real that rule over each of us.

There is so much to say but I never know where to begin. When ever it is time to begin my mind draws a blank. I thought the words would come easily but they don’t. I have to work harder and remember the things I need to say. I hoped maybe with practice the words would come easier, and in a way they have, but not in the way that I thought. There is no magic, it is work, but after the work comes the magic, when people see you and tell you so. I want more of that and I’d like to give it in return. The goal is community and learning for learnings sake.

One day, if enough magic happens, and if enough ideas present themselves to me, maybe there could be a book. A book about everything. A book about me and you and all of us and how we aren’t exactly something, but we aren’t nothing either. We are freer than we think and we can mean something to ourselves and each other. One day we will all be forgotten but the ripples we create can change the future. I believe in postive vibes. I believe giving one smile can create two. I believe in paying it forward and never expecting anything in return. I believe that, and much more, is the way to happiness and a better world.

I tried to combine both the Blogging 101 and Writing 101 prompts today. I did a bit of free writing and I wrote a bit about myself and why I blog. Theres was minimal editing. Only paragraph spacing and spelling.