Archives for posts with tag: be considerate

It’s just a list. It isn’t personal. πŸ™‚

1. It isn’t always about you.
2. You don’t know everything.
3. You probably don’t know “exactly how that feels “, even if you have “been there/done that”.
4. Your emotional experience belongs to you, only.
5. You can’t “fix” anyone else, or force them to change.
6. No one owns you. You don’t own them, either.
7. Rejection is painful. For everyone.
8. Heartfelt convictions don’t become facts because you believe them.
9. Sometimes you are wrong.

Have a flower, think things over. Do better today than you understood to do yesterday. Be the person you most want to be. πŸ™‚ You’ve got this, it just takes practice.

Don’t forget to pause and notice something lovely. πŸ™‚

I recently read a meme or a post or an observation somewhere to the effect that we “don’t owe” “basic human decency” to [insert preferred list of “bad people” here]. I found myself astonished that “basic human decency” is so often seen as something we provide on a limited basis, and only to specific qualifying individuals. Then I laughed. Then I felt incredibly saddened. Seriously? “Basic human decency” is something to aspire to because we are human – and decent. It’s a literal baseline for decency; the minimum we offer, because “decent” is a human quality we cultivate. We provide that experience because it is characteristic of who we are. Portioning it out to just those who are adequately deserving suggests to me a fundamental lack of actual decency, altogether. Just saying.

I’m not pointing any fingers. Been there. I’ve been in that place where I was so angry (generally) and so wounded (emotionally), that behaving with any sort of decency seemed… unfair, or unreasonable, or… well… I wasn’t gonna do that. :-\ I did not understand at all that it was not about whether that person was “deserving” of decency – it was always about whether I was sufficiently developed as an adult human being to be capable of decency in those circumstances. It said more about me as a human being than anyone else. It’s very much the sort of puzzle that kept pulling my focus back onto me, when I started down this path – what I am capable of? What I can learn? What I can do to change myself? I have so little ability to change the world, or any one individual, and so much opportunity to become the woman, the person, the human being I most want to be. At this point, I could describe it as my life’s work. (I find it hard to accurately describe how far I have actually come as a person, and how far I recognize that I still have to go.)

My housekeeping? Not perfect. I’m prone to untidiness, but thrive within the context of a lifestyle that is very orderly, well-kept, and managed on a calendar. I have to work at order. I do. There are tons of verbs involved and my results vary.

My self-care? Hit or miss under stress, but generally pretty good these days, otherwise. I work at that, too. It’s a very human experience. More verbs. More practices. I begin again every single day.

My sanity? Mostly fairly well-managed these days. I do what it takes. I see my therapist when that is the needful thing. In years that I’ve been medicated, I’ve stayed the course on my medication(s) and taken prescriptions as directed as much as my memory (and coping skills) allow. I’ve made a point of getting off of medications that were doing me harm. I practice good practices, and I no longer punish myself for my very humanity. I’d say I’m generally sane, mostly fairly rational, and entirely willing recognize my mistakes, whenever that comes up (often). πŸ™‚

My ability to be a basically decent human being? Pretty good, generally, with some misses here or there when I’m not entirely myself, or during some moment of severe stress, illness, or in the throes of misadventure. It’s a work in progress, frankly, I’d like to be more reliably wholly a basically decent human being, as a reliable default setting. I continue to work at that, because from my perspective on life, now, it seems the literal least I can do for the world… which make it sort of obligatory to at least give it a shot, and to really practice it until I am quite skilled. πŸ™‚

My experience is my own. Same for yours. When we make wise choices that are appropriate to our circumstances, we tend to enjoy our experience a bit more. When we practice, and demonstrate, human decency, we are decent humans – something to aspire to, right there. The world would most definitely benefit from having a higher percentage of basically decent human beings. Life gives us opportunities to change, to grown, to learn, to practice – and we become what we practice.

Today is a good day to practice some “basic human decency” – certainly it is worth being good at that. It’s not about whether you deserve my basic human decency, though, is it? It’s about whether I do. (I definitely do.) πŸ˜‰

Eat less or exercise? Personally, I have to do both. It’s non-negotiable. If I get less exercise, still keep my caloric intake well-managed (and low) and eat healthy food, I gain weight anyway. If I get plenty of exercise, but make poor nutritional choices, I also gain weight. If I eat a poor quality diet, don’t manage my calories closely, and also don’t get sufficient exercise, I not only gain weight, I gain a lot of weight, and I pack on the pounds fast. Some medications cause me to gain weight, too; that’s something I reliably find out the hard way. So… eat less or exercise? I don’t get to choose, I’ve got to do both. πŸ™‚

There are quite a few things in life that we sometimes get snared viewing as a choice between options, when, actually, it’s a choice to change, or not to change; all the options involving change may be required to make change occur in the direction we’d specifically like to see. Real-life doesn’t tend to negotiate with our whims.

Emotion, and the skillful management and expression of strong emotion, specifically, has some things in common here, with a twist; incremental change over time is super slow, but our emotions jump to the head of any queue, lead every moment, and arrive to every party too early. So sure, it’s reasonable, and true, for someone mid-freak out to have the recognition and understanding that their experience is based on “irresistible” internal forces beyond their immediate control; strong emotion, particularly powerful emotions like rage, frustration, and sorrow, can erupt from within us, sweeping over us, taking away our sense of control, and eventually leading to regrettable words and actions. The “I’m sorry”s begin to pile up (if you are that decent sort who regrets treating others badly). So do the rationalizations (about hormones, childhoods, provocation, circumstances…).

It’s also quite true that our behavior is a choice. Yes, all of it. Yes, pretty much all the time, every time. The first time someone lashes out with an act of violence, they might get by with “I didn’t know” or an expression of astonishment that they could be provoked to that point, but second times? Third times? Times that occur after someone – anyone – has pointed out that’s not okay? Yeah, those are choices. Yielding to strong emotion and relinquishing control over behavior is a choice (unless maybe you are profoundly mentally ill and urgently in need of inpatient treatment). Well, if that’s also true, is everyone who ever treated a loved one poorly, or punched a wall, or lashed out with horrible words deeply mentally ill and urgently in need of treatment? Some of them probably are! Most of them likely are not. That they are choosing such behaviors is still a choice, and they could choose differently, and no you can’t “make them” change, and omg – if they decide to change themselves, that is a process that can be infernally slow, fraught will failures, and varying results.

…And before we can change ourselves through our willful choices in the direction of being our best selves, we actually need to 1. be aware that we would like to be other than we are, and 2. understand that change is possible, chosen, and must be practiced. It’s a lot to hold onto. It’s a lot of work. The practice has to come ahead of the need to be changed. It’s necessary both to feel, and to practice our best behavior under the stress of an “emotional load”. We’ve got to do both. It’s work that will have to be done in the face of real-time failures, disappointed frustrated loved ones, relationships that don’t make it through the process, friendships that end because it turns out some of them were invested in what is being changed. It’s work that is continuous and ongoing. Change is a verb – and you have choices.

Another school shooting. I read about it and can’t help but wonder where so many people have gotten the idea that their anger, disappointment, frustration, or any other emotional experience, entitles them to take a life – any life. Where did that come from? How long has this toxic seed been part of our culture? Did the shooter understand this is unacceptable behavior? If he did understand that, and chose to do it anyway, where did he get the idea that this is a course of action appropriate to his emotional experience? Why do so few people understand what poison their “righteous anger” actually is? Even otherwise good-hearted people can be drawn into making the most outrageously hateful statements about the value of another life (don’t read the comments on the internet, People, I’m just saying there’s an astonishing amount of rationalized hate out there), given the opportunity to frame that other human being as a bad guy of some kind. We most commonly succumb to hate due to a lack of empathy… I don’t know how to fix that for the world, or my nation. I’m still working on it for me – one practice at a time. Changing myself is within my control; I have choices.

Time to begin again.

Consideration is a funny notion. The idea that there is value in making a specific point of considering another person, other people, animals, children, the moment, the circumstances, the timing, the consequences, the lighting… all of the things… it’s complicated. What we choose to consider matters, and we often don’t seem to… consider that, too.

Consider a common enough commuter scenario; congestion, cars close together between intersections, blocking side streets, waiting for lights, pedestrians crossing in their turn, and someone in the oncoming lane, stopped with their left turn signal on, waiting for any chance to make their left turn – but the intersection is blocked by the car ahead of you. When the car ahead of you pulls forward, do you considerately remain stopped, allowing that left turn vehicle to turn left? If do you, did you also consider the cars waiting behind you, maybe for more than one cycle of lights, also eager to get home, also possibly waiting a long while, or faced with a time crunch of some kind? Did you consider, too, the car on the side street hoping to turn right, blocking most of that narrower street, maybe making it difficult for the left turn driver to make their turn efficiently? More delays. What about the cyclist coming up on your right, have you considered whether that left turn driver can safely make that turn – does the driver even see the cyclist? So many details, so many perspectives – it’s probably why we’ve made rules about rights of way, and order of operations (life, traffic, and math – all have their rules). Things may work ideally well in a particular sequence, or using a particular set of rules that, if everyone does it just that way, it all goes so smoothly. (When given a manual, tutorial, or opportunity to study the rules – for fuck’s sake, please do!)

I use traffic as an example because it’s hard to take it very personally, unless you’re in your car reading this right now – in which, omg, please do not do that. Not while you’re driving, anyway. Save it for later – literally nothing I write is worth dying over. Seriously. Nor worth taking a life carelessly. Just don’t. It’s terribly inconsiderate to drive distracted, anyway. So rude. So unsafe.

Life doesn’t create a lot of easy puzzles where consideration is concerned. I’m still figuring a lot of that stuff out, myself. Is there such a thing as “too much consideration”? What would that look like? Certainly, there is “consideration gone badly wrong” – we can so easily take actions based on the best possible intentions, truly noble compassionate and loving actions, and still cause terrible harm. I tend to think of consideration as also a possible solution for that particular problem, but we are each having our own experience – and like it or not (I don’t) it isn’t possible to be entirely right, entirely good, and also have nothing but beneficial (to all beings) outcomes of each of our actions and choices. Sooner or later, we’re likely to find that the good we thought we’d done turned out poorly for someone (maybe us) – or that something that experience suggests should have gone very badly indeed has some profoundly positive result… for someone else. It’s easiest to be sure after the action is completed, and the moment is a memory – that’s just not very helpful at decision-making time.

I don’t have any answers to this one. I do know that consideration – basic consideration, delivered in each interaction I have throughout each day that I can manage to remain sufficiently aware to do it has benefited greatly. I just don’t know the words to tell you how. I wish I did. Maybe if I were better at it myself? I’ll work on that. πŸ™‚

In fact… I’ll begin again tomorrow. πŸ˜€

The commute home tonight was rich with one of my least favorite things that is so common that it seems quiteΒ ubiquitous, perhaps even a default in our so very human behavior… a lack of basic consideration. Consider that, if you would, for a moment – consider the nature of consideration, and of “being considerate” – what does that even mean? Is the meaning quite literal, as in “to give consideration to a thing, person, moment, or choice”? To consider something? Is it more subtle? Certainly, consideration doesn’t seem very common.

Tonight I saw drivers pause as a light turned yellow, clearly positioned to note that the row of cars ahead had no room for an additional car to queue up – then choose to pull forward into the intersection, from a stop, and able to see that there was no additional room for another car, and continue to pull forward until they were stopped in the intersection. A four-way intersection with a signal light – filled with cars filled with people so lacking in consideration that the increased congestion during the commute, and the inconvenience to cross traffic, just wasn’t as important as pulling forward some 20 feet or so, to avoid waiting through the next light. Weird, right? No, uglier than that; inconsiderate.

I saw, also, drivers so anxious in traffic that they were driving at the extreme left or right edge of the lane, crossing over into (left side) the left turn lane or (right side) the bicycle lane, or right turn lane, and making it basically impossible to see further down the road (their own visibility was more important than being safe). Inconsiderate and unsafe.

I saw drivers commuting in full darkness without any tail lights at all. I saw them commuting without their headlights on. Dangerous. Definitely – but also really inconsiderate; any other driver affected would likely experience some additional stress. Rude. Thoughtless. Seriously? Driving in the dark without lights?

For a while, I was behind a transit bus driver clearly making it a committed point not to pull out of the traffic lane to make pick ups or drop off passengers. Instead, he just sort of angled the nose of the bus toward the curb, and in one case managed to impair two travel lanes, a bike lane, and a right turn lane – within a few feet of an intersection, which immediately filled with cars operated by drivers too inconsiderate to watch ahead of themselves far enough to recognize the congestion developing, and so filled up the intersection, impeding the cross traffic, too.

People crossing the street, in the dark, during rush hour, on a busy road, filled with inconsiderate angry drivers… crossing the street, but not on a cross walk, or at an intersection, just jaywalking right on across all 7 lanes (two travel lanes in each direction, a center turn lane, and right side bike/turn lanes in both directions) – wearing all black. What the fuck?? Seriously? That’s… wow. Yeah, I can’t see those pedestrians at all; I count on detecting the interruption in oncoming headlights to alert me of the jaywalking pedestrians. I wish they would consider wearing reflective clothing.

Each choice we make, in each moment of impatience, frustration, or hurry, affects every human being’s path we cross. Every dick move. Every bit of entitled bullshit. Every shortcut, every cheat, and every time we “break the rules” to convenience ourselves holds the potential to seriously fuck over someone else – and if you don’t care about their experience, well… that’s inconsiderate. Simply that; you are not considering them, or their experience, or even, in some cases, your own safety.

I’m not pointing any fingers. I have my moments. Being considerate is a really big deal for me, and I put a lot of work into it – I try to keep that set to maximum consideration full-time. Sometimes I miss. Sometimes I’m the inconsiderate jerk.

Tomorrow I get another chance to begin again, to be more considerate, to be more kind, to be more aware of the human beings around me, each having their own experience.