It’s a funny thing to reflect on the past. People say you shouldn’t dwell too much on it and I agree with that, but it’s good to reflect
so we can think about the present and what might lie ahead of us. When I’m reflecting, there is a quote from Maya Angelou that I always come back to. She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I wonder how many of us think deeply think about the consequences of our actions and words. It’s very easy to justify why you can’t have a difficult (but necessary) conversation with someone, why it’s easier and okay to completely ignore someone – it’s easy because we all do it. We are all guilty of it.
Controversially, in the name of self-care we even sometimes attempt to justify hurtful behaviour. I would argue though, that this is not self-care because you are not only doing long term damage to people around you, but also to yourself.
Self-care to me doesn’t mean something is easy and instantly makes me happy.
Self-care can painful, awkward, and sometimes does not produce instant results.
Under the mask of anonymity or away from the potential judgment of those we love and respect, it is interesting to see how people’s behaviour and treatment of others can change.
There was a recent experience I had where I met someone briefly via some mutual, close friends and they seemed like a friendly and outgoing person during our brief interaction. A few days later, I had an online experience with this person that was completely the opposite. I felt horrible. My mind instantly went to self-blame and what I must have done wrong. Surely, my friends would not have those kinds of people around them. Again, I burrowed into blaming myself but eventually, in the name of self-preservation I concluded that this person was just rude.
Of course, it doesn’t end there because I’m an overthinker. I asked myself, had I behaved in a similar way towards others in the past? I didn’t want to admit it, but the answer was yes. I had also been the rude or cold person at different points in my life. I probably wouldn’t even be able to say why I behaved that way. I wonder how I made them feel and if they still remember how I made them feel.
So then why do we do it? Why do we sometimes behave badly when no one we know is looking? I don’t know. Maybe we all have different reasons. Sometimes I think I did it out of fear but I don’t know if that was the reason every time.
If we wear masks, are we just changing our masks? I don’t want to believe that those times I haven’t treated people well is my true self. I genuinely don’t believe that is my true self and I’m sure it isn’t other people’s true self either. I would like to think that was some other mask I put on at the time that I probably shouldn’t be wearing again going forward.
Again, in the name of self-preservation I think about this in the context of an increasingly socially connected world. That mask I might have worn in the past (more than I’d like to admit) needs to go away. I might have people confront me about my shitty behaviour in the past and I need to own that. Likewise, others may need to think about this possibility for them.
What makes me think that people still remember the way I made them feel? Because I remember the way people have made me feel. If I were to describe some of the ways people have made me feel (negatively), I would say the main ones are invisible, dirty, unimportant, and forgettable. I wonder what words people would use to describe the ways I have made them feel (negatively).
To date, I have had a few conversations with people who I didn’t treat well, and I count myself lucky that they gave me the time of day. It wasn’t about making excuses or making someone accept my apology. Sometimes it was as simple as, “I was a shit and was really rude to you. I don’t know why I did it, but it was wrong and I’m sorry.”
Likewise, my door is always open, and I will hear people out who treated me poorly if they want to own their behaviour. Some people have and I really admire their courage in doing that.
To finish off, just yesterday, I was having a great chat with these two amazing women who run a cafe nearby home and one of them said, “You know, we live in a pretty unforgiving and cruel world sometimes. It doesn’t hurt to be good to those around us.” We could all agree on that.
It’s important to understand that the world can be a genuinely isolating and shitty place, the least we can do is try and make it a little less that way by treating people around us with more kindness even if we don’t think we’re going to see them again.
Anyway, that’s all from me today.