You can’t control your addiction, your weight problem, or drinking? Tell someone. And then tell another person. Chances are you have someone in your life that knows exactly what you need to get through it or over it. Being cautious and secretive only blocks you from the possibility of others helping you. You might not want other people to know your secret. But they’re damn sure going to find out when your life explodes, aren’t they?
One of the ways you know that emotionality has seeped too far into your head is when you find yourself exaggerating. Often, when we’re lashing out, we take a small version of the truth and stretch it ridiculously. If we don’t have such a truth to work with, we either invent one or attribute a motive that we have no way of knowing. We villainize.
All of us hear dozens of vicious encounters in our daily lives, wherein people jab, snark, and exaggerate about the people they are currently upset with. That’s not going to end as long as humans are walking around.
For example, I’ve always had a real problem with fundamentalists or extremists, especially religious ones. Regardless of where I was on the spectrum about the existence of god or the futility of interventionist prayer, I’ve had a stable attitude about the foundation of people’s beliefs.
Any dogma, doctrine, commandment, or rule can be created out of whole cloth. It often is. It’s part of the reason no two religions or denominations agree on everything. Often, the divergence is massive, leaving no recognizable overlap.
My derision has always fallen on those who would demand adherence or obedience to the imposition of their chosen religious beliefs.
I distrust rigid authoritarians about religion; they can’t be trusted to honor the line of observance.
But, in anger or exaggeration, I’ve been accused of having a horrible attitude toward Christians as a category. That’s ridiculous. As with most religions and denominations, the individual observing it has massive leeway in how they treat others against the backdrop of spirituality. Many use it compassionately and intelligently; others would burn the world to get agreement. It is the latter that pisses me off.
It’s a small thing, but one which, if repeated unfairly, can grow to discolor the true nature of how I look at Christians and others.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed this sort of exaggeration in anger more frequently. It’s no great revelation, of course.
To start, L.I.T.S. = “Life Is Too Short.”
Secondly, I may be a person on other people’s lists. I admit that fully. We’re all villains in someone else’s eyes; accept it. Yes, it will feel hurtful.
Since I started seeing a counselor, I’ve probably become more annoying in a few ways. If you missed it in my previous posts, anytime you change, even if entirely for the better or positive reasons, people often don’t welcome the change. Change requires adaptation and often new boundaries. As the difference becomes more substantial, so too does the likelihood that someone will take issue – and probably not directly.
I keep a few of these printed in my wallet. Instead of getting frustrated again, I take one out and hand it to whoever is trying to trap me in a situation with the person on my L.I.T.S. List.
For most people, this opens up a conversation about my motivation. At its most simple, it lets the person know that I take issue with how the other person engages with me as a human being. If the person inquiring is a good person, I will take the time to explain. If not, I short-circuit the encounter as politely as possible.
It’s also possible that handing out these might get me in hot water. But let’s be honest, dealing with narcissists or unkind people often lands us in hot water through no fault of our own. I won’t put someone on my L.I.T.S. List unless I’ve been unsuccessful in getting them to stop mistreating me.
There will be situations in which nothing can be done. Even so, at least people will know that I’d prefer to minimize my exposure to the person in question.
Life is too short, indeed.
A monologue that I heard that I tried to capture…
“It’s not about intelligence. Think about it. How many intelligent people have chosen drugs or alcohol? Or had an affair? Or ran their careers into the ground? Or became fat? Or smoke? Make a list of all the pitfalls you’ve done or watched other people do. Intelligence helps us in unimaginable ways. But it also arms us with rationalizations and ways to convince ourselves that everything is fine, we’re not wrong, or that we’re somehow strong enough to handle it or react differently. Look at lawyers who embezzle, bribe, or commit fraud. Doctors? They succumb to the same drugs they are prescribing – and hurt or kill people in the process. Teachers sleep with their students or teach intolerance. Therapists who commit suicide or become addicts? Spouses, who forego a relationship for excitement? Or, conversely, those who stay when they shouldn’t. If you think they’re stupid, you’re wrong. If you can ever figure out the alchemy of the human mind, you’re going to be the salvation of humanity. We all do it – questioning someone’s intelligence for stupidity or misbehavior. In almost every case, the person doing the stupidity has an entirely different narrative running in his or her head. Knowing this, we attribute weakness or folly to others while telling ourselves that it is for a good reason when we do it. Human minds are incredibly complex and simultaneously very basic. A parting note is to remember that no matter what people tell you was going on their heads and hearts when they were doing whatever it is that looks questionable, they mostly either don’t know or aren’t going to tell you the right answer. We all want meaningful lives, great relationships, and health. And we commit the same mistakes over and over, all around the world. We are hard-wired to be both intelligent and stupid. If you can understand your mind, you’re way ahead of the rest of the crowd. And if you can translate that understanding into better and more satisfying and honest behaviors, I will ask you to do my job for me. Instead of labeling misbehavior from others, give them a pass so that you can ask for one for yourself when you do something equally stupid. Let time be a big part of your solution. If you can hesitate before speaking, before acting, before reacting, you have a better chance at being happy or at least comfortable.”