Sunday, January 7, 2018

C'est moi, maybe

Sometimes people get irritated with me.  They say something like "You're a pain!" I try not to take it personally.  I realize they are probably having a bad day.  I can explain their perceptions based on their brains, their sensitivities, their fears and problems.  

I don't tend to be as quick to remember that MY perceptions and MY moods tend to come to me from me.  I don't first think that I am having a bad day.  Instead, I tend to first think that other driver is creeping along at a slow pace that actually makes his car a dangerous obstacle on the road.  I can see that I am not as quick to allow for the mental and emotional mechanisms involved when they are my own.

When a person is involved in marriage, teaching, business, social exchanges, much of the action is in the minds and habits and aims of the speaker or the listener.  But both the speaker and the listener are members of groups of others, some rather small and intimate groups and some with large number of members.  Family, team, region, religion, political parties and causes, cultures, chronological age groups, historical periods - they can all matter.  

So, sometimes, a person's ideas or impulses are propelled by neither the maker of a remark nor the hearer.  The way my grandmother acted when praised, the way my pastor reacted to references to sexual matters might be the root of my own reaction.  I don't have time nor sensitivity nor memory enough to notice all my own filters and habits, let alone recognize their sources and the models I learned from.  

All my perceptions actually come from me.  I am the first system things in me come though.  Your reactions and comments come from you, carefully thought out or dropped casually, before they get run through me.  Other people than either of us, having whispered about you or me or us, or openly and directly talked to or influenced us, are often connected to what you and I talk about and feel.  But like my grandmother or her grandmother or my pastor's grandmother, people we don't know and many that we never met, such as an emperor of the Roman empire or Clara Barton may have laid down a path or an obstacle that is guiding us both without our realizing it.  

One of my heros, W.E. Deming, emphasized in his influential study of organizations and their improvement, that rules as well as actual physics have their influence, too.  If I drop dishes often, we can suspect it's me.  But a single slippery dish or a startling noise or a slippery floor might be the basic cause, whatever you think of my carefulness.

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