Do you know that feeling when you want to help someone and all you accomplish with your actions is to push them away? Just as you sometimes are misunderstood, we misunderstand others as well. I believe that we can have different intentions with our expressions. So you might say something or act in a certain way that causes someone to get upset or hurt, when your intentions are good and you just want to look out for them.
Last week I wrote and spoke on the subject of how our surroundings, friends and family, influence us into becoming better or worse versions of ourselves. I also wrote that once you have figured out that you have someone close to you that has a bad influence on you, it does not mean that you have to stop spending time with that person. However, you might want to be aware and to gain control of how much you let that person influence you.
Today I will discuss a method I make use of when dealing with people that I find have a bad influence on me.
‘No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit’
– Ansel Adams
So let’s say you are hanging out with a group of friends and one of your friends starts complaining about the weather, how the grey clouds always seem so depressing, and the rainy days make him/her feel as if they just want to stay insight the entire day and do nothing. Or you are at your uncle’s house during a family gathering. A family member starts talking about politics in such a way that it seems very closed minded to you. As if they are incapable of taking another person’s perspective.
To your friend you’d might want to tell them to cheer up and make the most out of the cloudy day anyway. However, most of the time this either annoys them or it triggers them to start complaining even more. And with the situation regarding your family member, most of us know how wild it can get once we start to discuss politics. Especially when we have the sensation that the other person does not want to hear our side of the story, but mostly wants everyone to agree with him/her.
Now ignoring these situations is a way to deal with it, however, most of the time we get dragged into it anyway or we are excluded from the conversation. What I try to do is instead of immediately reacting to what is being said, I try to get an understanding of what it is that they are truly trying to say. Why are they expressing themselves this way and why is it that they feel the need to do this in this manner? There are so many reasons why someone might do certain things, yet it is easy to get caught up in the moment and the things that are being said and done.
‘Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom’
– Viktor E. Frankl
Personally I have this somewhat naive belief that everyone has good intentions, yet most of us usually don’t express them very well. If you find yourself sitting with a family member and they are trying to be the centre of attention trying to attain all the attention for themselves, instead of listening to your instant reaction, try to ask yourself: ‘why is this person acting in this way?’, ‘what is it that he/she really wants?’.
It is a possibility that they might want to be seen or heard, that they want to be valued for who they are. But they haven’t learned how to value themselves, so they look for this value in the wrong area. They look for it in others.
It is easier for us to process words and to react to them than processing emotions of someone. Once we want to understand certain emotions behind them, we need to go to a deeper level of processing in our brain. This would suggest that processing emotions of other people does not always happen automatically. Now there even is a difference between happy and negative emotions, in which the negative emotions are processed quicker.
‘Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways’
– Sigmund Freud
To get a clear understanding of why we behave and think the way we do, we have to dig deep and get a complete understanding of ourselves. This search can be difficult and frightening and I believe that many humans on earth do not know themselves very well. I think and I have experienced that many people think they know why they do what they do and they say what they say, but they are actually unaware of the things or thing that is causing them to do so.
By understanding our own behaviours, thoughts, and feelings, we can understand others even better! So next time when someone is talking or acting in a way that you dislike, try to think about where that comes from. They might have a good reason to act that way or say those things. If we can understand that someone is not necessarily ‘bad’ or ‘annoying’, we can enjoy spending time with them or the group of people more.