To be always ready, a man must be able to cut a knot, for everything cannot be untied. -- Henri Frederic Amiel

Friday, 23 September 2011

Its Not What You Say

Its what you do. 

Many of us are familiar with this phrase. How many of us draw a hard line and stand by it?

When it comes right down to it, I am simply no longer interested in letting people justify their bad behavior to me. 

Is this wrong?

I'm impatient. I know what's hurtful. I know what kinds of behaviors are no longer tolerable in my presence. I know what I like to see and what I don't like to see in my friends. With regards to some types of behaviors, I simply do not believe that they can be justified. And I don't want to waste my time listening to them being justified it to me. 

I have been fed so much bull-shit that it leaked out of my eye-balls. Its horrible. Its a complete waste of my time.  

If its wrong, its wrong. Period. The behavior needs to change. You might be able to offer me a million justifications, but you can't offer me a single good reason. And I can't be bothered to listen to you try. 

My expectations are often clear and simple. 

Take my feedback and resolve the behavior or I will have to avoid interacting with you. 

I'm not four years old. This is neither intended as an ultimatum nor is it intended to cause harm. Its neither a threat nor a punishment. I have expectations of the people that I keep close to me. If they cannot live up to these expectations, then I just do not want these people polluting my space. 

I have had to put up with so many horrible people. They completely surrounded me when I was a child. I REFUSE to put up with this crap as an adult. I have the ability to remove all hurtful people from my space, and I friggin' intend to do it. 

My fear is that my newly acquired tendency is extreme. My fear is that I only want to surround myself with people who think and act like me. My fear is that I am just trying to make people obey me. 

I don't see things this way, but this could be what I'm doing. 

I'm imagining being called insensitive for what I have to say. Or selfish. Or a hypocrite because I'm willing to tell people that they have to listen to me, but I am unwilling to listen to them. I don't know whether any of these claims would be true. Maybe they would be true and it just doesn't matter. 

Its just that I no longer want to hear promises of change. I no longer want to hear about good reasons for acting like a dick. I don't care. I have stated my expectations. I will know that you have committed to maintaining a relationship with me when I actually get what I need from you. Otherwise, I can't spend time in your space. It hurts me too much to do so, and, while I prize my relationships, I will not put myself through pain to maintain them. 

But this sounds so selfish, doesn't it?

I have heard the people that my post is aimed at using THESE SAME EXACT WORDS to justify their insensitivity to others.  

When is a little bit of selfishness healthy and when is it not?

When am I allowed to be self-righteous (and I AM self-righteous) and also be right?

These things seem fundamental to STAYING A SANE PERSON. 

They also seem fundamental to being a selfish, immature, and wholly irresponsible person. 

Am I merely walking a fine line? I think I'm just feeling a little bit guilty for trying to stand up for myself. I've always been taught not to do that. 

What I mean to say is that, we sometimes need to let people go even though we still love them. We all have to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, sometimes we need to protect ourselves from the people that we love most.

I'm trying to say that I NEED to be able to tell the people that I care about that I think their behavior is not okay and that it needs to stop. I don't like it. It makes me uncomfortable. It hurts me. If it doesn't stop, I will remove myself from them to make it stop because I cannot stay in relationships that I find hurtful. 

I have no expectation that these people comply. I would like them to. I actually expect, unfortunately, that removing myself from them is the only real option. Though, I prefer to give them a chance to ratify their behavior.  

I guess the real test is the outcome. If I end up alone, having pushed away all of the people that I care about, then I know that I am making an error in judgment. If I end up surrounded by genuinely caring people, even if its only a few people, then I know I have done a good job. 

I'm not trying to win any popularity contests. I'm trying to live a life that I am comfortable with. That can only be done if I am surrounded by people that I am comfortable with. I'm very sad to say that this means cutting out many toxic relationships, or redefining them in a way that will not let them be so damaging to me. 

What I really need is reassurance that choosing to purge the scourge that is infecting my psyche is okay. What makes me question myself is the fact that I am so completely and uncompromisingly able to draw these lines. It shouldn't be so easy. On the other hand, I should not have to stay up until 4am, ANNOYED with someone's ridiculous childish behavior. I refuse. 

At least I can put my negative energy to good use. :)


  1. I was reading your post and it made me think of something that Stephen R Covey said in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He was talking about his experience with a young daughter on her birthday. She opened these wonderful presents and he forced her to share them with the other children. Later he realized that he'd done his daughter a great disservice. He knew that you have to truly possess something for yourself before you can share it willingly.

    I thought about this when I read your article, because that's what you seem to be doing....taking possession of yourself. Yes, it may feel like sometimes like you are a two year old in the throes of a knock down drag down hissy fit....screaming, "MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE."

    The great thing about being human is that if we don't get what we need growing up, we recycle our developmental stages throughout our lives. Whatever you are going need at this time. It may be uncomfortable, but that's because you are trying to figure out the truth while battling all the lies you were taught growing up. What is being selfish? Is what I'm doing selfish or self actualizing? What is self righteousness? Am I being self righteous or am I asserting my needs?

    I don't have any suggestions other than to say, "Trust the process." and to tell you about a book that really helped me. It's called "Self Esteem: A family affair" by Jean Illsley Clark. It was hard to get into at first..but the information has been invaluable.

    Take care!

  2. Thanks Veronica, I'll definitely take the time to look at this book. The fact that it'll be hard to get into doesn't really bother me. I've pushed myself through a few highly unreadable academic texts. I think I can make it through almost anything I have an interest in.

    I'm totally with the concept of recycling through developmental stages. I feel very lucky to have more than one chance at learning how to be a healthy person. It is a process.

    A related topic for me is learning how to say "NO." Once I realized I could, I started saying "NO" to just about everything. I'm only now learning what kinds of things I should say "NO" to and what kinds of things I shouldn't respond this way to.

    Its hard when everything is forced upon you as a child. You never get learn what you are okay with and what you're not. This is clearly a future post.


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