I never realized how selfish or rude I can appear to be at times. Tonight someone pointed that out to me and not in a manner to attack me, rather to help. I guess being the introvert that I am, I tend to draw deeper and deeper within myself, and not realize what an impact that has on the world around me. Maybe not the world, but people and events around me that are affected.
I tend to be an impulsive person. When it strikes my fancy to do something, usually I will start right away, never mind what else is going on. For instance, I could be in a meeting, and I open my notes and start jotting down something that just came to mind. In my mind, I am just writing something down for future reference. However, to someone else it may appear that I don't show an interest in what is being said, or that I don't have time for them.
I never really looked at it that way, but it made sense. For the first time in a long time, I was able to accept some sort of criticism and not get defensive about it. This is a HUGE step in the right direction. It was in that moment, that the "floodgates opened." Alot of things that were either complete mysteries to me, or what I wasn't willing to face beforehand, were bought into plain view. It was like an epiphany! I think that most of this "mess" is based upon a few things: Self-esteem and Fear.
I am constantly second-guessing myself and my abilities. My self-confidence is not high, as you have probably already guessed. Sometimes I just resign myself to the fact that I cannot do something. It's easy to play the victim. When you are a victim, you don't have to accept as much responsibility, if any. It keeps you "safe."
I think that If I really broke the fear down further, it would relate to the self-esteem. Generally the fear of failure is very prominent in my life. I have learned to run when things get too rough, or they reach a certain threshold. It's an unhealthy coping mechansim. I believe that is what keeps me from taking risks. There is always a chance for failure. I see failure as the be-all-end-all and that there is nothing after it-almost like death. Yet so many others have failed time and again, and they become succesful later because they learned from their mistakes. I, on the other hand, tend to dwell on them and start to feel sorry for myself. Some coping mechanism, eh? Maybe I need to take a few lessons from Thomas Edison. I believe that he failed nearly 10,000 times before getting the filament to work properly in a light bulb. That, my friends, is persistence.
The point is, I see why I have a hard time dealing with people in a normal setting. I don't look at their situation, only mine, or where theirs intersects with mine. For instance, in a job situation, I see it as an inconvenience or an interruption when someone approaches me with a question. If you don't see the other side of the situation, you will most certainly have a closed mind when it comes to dealing with others. Another instance would be; why is someon being rude? - I take it personally and naturally become defensive. Perhaps they have just had the worst day of their lives and inadvertently took it out on me. I take out my problems on people all the time and expect them to not react to it. I guess I have a "double standard." I am striving to see beyond that wall which restricts me from seeing the other "side" of things. Rather than trying to learn and improve these life skills, in the past, I have chosen to accept that "I'm no good at them," and leave it at that. It's definitely time for a change, don't you think? (please email or comment as you wish.)
The funniest thing happened- The second I laid my notes aside and focused on the conversation, I felt more of a participant than a spectator. I was able to get inolved, to understand, and most importantly to contribute a point of view which showed that I had a genuine interest in the person's dilemma. At first, it was awkward and uncomfortable, but a short while later, that feeling was gone and I found myself quite focused on the situation at hand. I even found myself asking them simple questions as to why they felt a certain way or did a procedure in a certain manner. I never really did that before - the only time I questioned anything was when I felt threatened or didn't like something; never on someone else's behalf. I left the meeting with a very good feeling - that I had gone up yet another step on the ladder of life.
Single Sided Mind
I always found it much easier to express how I feel about me than about others. I believe that it has more to do with a self-esteem issue, or even the fear of rejection. In a group situation, I would say what I had to say and be done with it. However, when it came to my turn to listen, my mind would be off somewhere unrelated to whatever was being said. I can't say that I didn't care, but I know that I was too afraid to participate and to ask questions, or even offer suggestions to the person. It was rather selfish of me, and now I realize it completely. This person is literally pouring their heart out, and I'm over there thinking about what I'm going to do. What a pity.
This should give me a much better perspective when dealing with people. The key point is not to take offense to everything. I don't have to fight for my life anymore, no one is out to get me. I can begin to let my defenses down. I know that alot of it is years of self-programmed negative self-talk (perhaps slight schizophrenia?) that causes it. Instead of protecting myself, I am slowly dying and depriving myself of any future opportunities that may come my way. Maybe I'll meet that right person and start dating again, or make some new friends to hang out with. I will only know if I take that risk.
Look To The Future...
I know that this will be a tedious process, also that it will be frustrating and time consuming, but I truly believe that I can do it. I want to be able to reach out to others and to genuinely be able to help them, rather than to keep drawing further within myself and dying a slow torturous death, all because the mindset is more than a few degrees off-kilter. It's amazing how you look at things once you change your perspective or point of view. You learn something new every time. They say you never stop learning. I can definitely attest to that fact.