Naive, a word that can be used to describe the assumption that other peoples thought patterns are the same as ours.
One of my favourite articles, on the art of how to not be offended, discusses assumptions we make in our every day lives that bring us to automatic pre-conceived conclusions towards the people we surround ourselves with.
Society is too quick to assume behavioural motives behind peoples actions. In highschool people always thought that the girl who was ‘a total bitch’ just decided to be that way, dismissing the way she was brought up, and the defense mechanisms she has put in place in order to cope.
One thing that people don’t realize is how much control they actually can have over the way they perceive the world.
I thought about this in my car today, driving, daydreaming the way I normally do. When I’m alone I think about theories and articles I’ve read. I try to come up with innovative ideas to better the world. I imagine myself being happy and reaching my goals.
So, I pull up to a stoplight and casually look at the people around me – the person next to me looked angry and annoyed about something, and I noticed as I went through my day just how many people seemed this way. I purposefully listened more carefully to people’s conversations, and noticed just how often people complain about their life, their situations, and other people.
I realized something very eye-opening, that not everyone goes through their day in that way that I do, not worrying about the little things. Many people are so caught up in reassessing redudant arguments they’ve had with others, or talking about how much they don’t like other people. So much negativity. What I realized is, these people have an even more difficult chance at being successful in life, not only in terms of their happiness but with pretty much anything. How are they to reach their goals, or focus on positive things when they are so caught up in a repetitive tunnel-visioned circle?
It was the most simple epiphany, but it was mind-blowing.
These people let things that are said to them and the ways that they are treated by other people dig right through their skin. They haven’t learned to let go. They haven’t learned the personal attack on them wasn’t really personal – it was merely a reflection of the other person’s own insecurities or anger towards life redirected on to some unrelated easy target.
Most of the ways we are treated by people are really reflections on how they view themselves. The shittiest people have a lot of the time been hurt the most.
I’m lucky in that I’ve had great opportunities and support systems to help me with everything I’ve been through. Even with great support, I faced a very dark and angry point in my life. I can’t imagine being a person who faced a lot, and never had anyone to back them up. Their anger towards the world, something they’ve never learned to properly control. They put this anger on to others, others who don’t know how to not take it personally, which consequently creates a chain reaction where the people who were ‘attacked’ internalize useless negativity and once again, throw it back into the world.
If everyone could learn about themselves, and try to dissolve their massive ego’s, they might be a little more happy, words might have a lesser impact on them; people may even become a little more compassionate towards others as opposed to defensive.
I try to pay special attention to the people who are rude about others, because I know deep down they’re not confident enough to NOT care about others. Their ego’s get in the way and they try creating a false upper-hand to make themselves appear on top of some mythical hierarchy.
It’s tough sometimes, I’m not perfect at not being offended.
But I’ve learned that the more seriously you take things, the more serious and miserable you become. You lose that childish fun part of your soul that doesn’t pay attention to the negativity of others. You lose the ability to bounce back from tough situations, and brush them off as a learning experience. This is why it’s so important to not interpret situations as surface level insults, but rather to investigate as to WHY the insults were said in the first place.