It’s amazing, when I started asking myself that question on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis I scared the crap put of myself LOL.
Even I, who live (by choice) a more singular life as an artist, designer and writer, still take a deep breath when I open my front door and step out into the world. You’d think that living more privately would give me the courage to take no prisoners and suffer fewer fools. However, I find just the opposite to be true.
Increasingly, when out and about, I find myself apologizing for other people’s lack of personal awareness I see around me. When she bumped me, I said, “So sorry” to the gal on the cell phone at the checkout counter completely oblivious to the fact that there’s a line and can’t tell the person on the phone to hold just for a moment out of courtesy to the rest of us. Seriously?
There’s the guy on the cell phone that I held the door open for but he didn’t even acknowledge my existence and then got into the help line right in front of me. When he finally realized I was there by stepping on my foot he looked down then up at me blankly and I WAS THE ONE WHO SAID, “Sorry!”
While these could be considered perhaps a ‘nice’ mannerly default, in truth I’ve begun to realize that when out in the world, I don’t seem to posses the ‘entitlement’ gene when it seems, increasingly, that many more do. Nor, as it happens, do I have ready the comeback lines for when people are taking advantage or being rude.
I mean I never send food back at a restaurant but still always tip. Am I rewarding really bad service?
I can’t help but give people the benefit of the doubt, I may never go back to the eatery again, but I don’t seem to have the need to make scenes or correct obnoxious or clueless behavior. I’m not a mouse just someone who rationalizes that “everyone” has a bad day.
When eating out, a diner’s unsupervised child took a French fry off my plate. Was I supposed to think, “that’s cute”, when I was actually appalled? Yet it was me who ended up apologizing to the mother (who evidently thinks the entire room of diners are there to babysit her kid while she caries on a conversation with her girlfriend) because when her child tried it AGAIN, I moved my plate out of reach. She looked at ME as though I was selfish or a child molester or something? What’s the response there? Am I the world’s greatest enabler actually condoning bad behavior and THEN rewarding it with what obviously must be fake empathy? I mean how far does this “turn the other cheek” thing go?
I began to realize how little I’ve grown to expect out of others and how I’m always the ‘prompter’ who is the peace maker when, if I’m really truthful, I’m outraged. Or is it that I feel somehow superior to those who are rude and have no sense of self-awareness? YES, yes I do. They deserve the condescension I think to myself, but never give them!
I began to ask myself, “How much do I react out of approval or acceptance, and how much if it is simply to make “the awkward” go away quicker?”
For a long time I’ve rationalized this overly appropriate-inappropriate behavior as the residue of a shy kind of alien person. Okay, so then I took a look at my behavior around those I was not shy around.
Oddly enough, I seem to like ballsy, direct people with colorful personalities. No correct that! I seem to like to WAIT on ballsy, direct people with colorful personalities. I’m the first to leap up and fetch, ask anyone if they need anything, or quietly bus and fluff for other’s comfort. Why?
Well, I like it…until it’s expected. I’m good at making people feel comfortable…until they take it for granted. I love enhancing other’s routines and being amazingly anticipatory...until it’s NEVER reciprocated. Yet, the awful truth is when they try to be all those things for me, I can’t take it!
I feel obligated somehow. I feel…well… a little competitive like, “hey that’s my job!” or embarrassed when kindness is directed towards me.
Ah, and there you have it! I’m a reverse control freak!!!
My default position has, in fact, been all about approval…Oh, not approval like, “if I don’t do it they won’t love me.” But, approval like, “pleasing you, filling in your gaps, pampering you is my POWER PLAY!”
Is making myself indispensible, my rational for being there in the first place? Am I still singing for my supper, dancing as fast as I can? ---And yet I hate those people who are ass kissers, or who do nice things then say, “Don’t get too used to it.”
Holey crap! I’m cra-cra…all over the board on this.
So I started asking myself everyday…many times a day…
Is Approval My Default Position?
As I watched myself, I began to understand that there was a definite link between ‘approval’ and ‘random acts of kindness.’ Hummm, who knew?
I began to realize that while I thought my behavior was sweet, tolerant, loving and accommodating, it really was far more part of ‘the need to please’ syndrome and more often an odd kind of power play that was a lot more self-motivated (blush) than I’d ever assumed.
A true ‘random act of kindness’ is really a bigger and more powerful act of humanitarianism. It’s helping when there is real need. It’s aiding at its purest and most humble best…when no one is looking and without expecting any kind of acknowledgment whatsoever.
And then I thought, “Hey, you know what? Put your ego in your back pocket buddy.” My aiding and abetting the “clueless” IS my random act of kindness! Approval? Acknowledgment? Screw it!
So, as for the rude, the clueless, and the self absorbed? ---Well, they’re getting my kindness whether they (or I) like it or not.