Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When reason and emotion collide

There are two people I know who are strongly in the "you need to train people how to treat you" camp. They tend to mandate long lists of behavior that they expect from others, and of course this list is subject to new additions at all times. I tend to think a lot of the items on the list and/or their interpretations of this list are unreasonable and stupid and fussy, resulting in these two folks holding all the power while the rest of the world bends to all their whims. Let me tell you, there are a lot of whims, and they are extremely hypocritical whims. Above the hypocrisy, I find the attitude in which the list of items is delivered to be abrasive and condescending.

Then there are the rest of the people in the world. Although we may not like that we aren't the center of the universe, we conceptually understand that other people have needs and desires and that ours aren't at the forefront some or most of the time.

If you're not particularly passionate about an issue or don't have a strong opinion, you might just go along with things because it would be emotionally draining to protest/argue, you really don't care too much, or you just want to be agreeable or have the appearance of amiability.  Over time this results in several things, but most notably a pattern of interaction that gives acceptance and/or tacit approval to the new track of behaviors. Most of the time this new track of behaviors is just fine, but sometimes you expect a little bit more or better treatment. You might get disappointed when your expectations weren't met. Then you get all these feelings of, "well, I guess I'm not worth it," "It's too late to change the pattern now," "I suck," and you just feel kind of crappy.

But then you realize that it's your own darn fault. Those irritating people with their 52 page code of conduct for you to follow when interacting with them are in an enviable position. If I were them, I wouldn't be in the position I'm in now. It would already be clear and understood that such behavior around me would be downright appalling and grounds for dismissal. Instead, I'm sad, frustrated, down on myself, and feel whiny & needy if I say, "Not acceptable. I need better behavior from you. It may seem stupid and pointless to step it up, but it matters in some esoteric way that I can't rationally describe."

It's difficult to balance being reasonable with asserting the needs you have. If your feelings get hurt ever so rarely, it's easier to shake off a minor slight because it feels so petty to point one little thing out. But at what point do you say/do something when the little ones keep adding up or there's a big one? At some point it becomes incredibly difficult.

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