Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thomas Kempis, Have you heard of him?

Yeah, I hadn't either. And yet, the other day when I was distraught that someone wasn't doing things the way I thought they should, my sister pulled out this Thomas Kempis quote... 

"Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."  

Oh Thomas, you medieval monk you! How wise your words are, and yet how very difficult to keep that perspective. 

I knew as soon as I heard them that they would require a blog post. How often does it happen that we have expectations of how someone else should be behaving and when they fail to meet our expectations, we are upset? For me, probably much more often than I should allow it to happen. I know better. I've been in this world long enough to know that expecations cause more trouble than almost anything else. 

Now, as an aside, I will say when I tell a child to specifically do something and she fails to do it, well, she is making her own bed. And she gets to deal with those consequences of making me angry. I might have had an expecation, but I made sure she knew the expectation. 

AND, when I lay out my expectations for others, I would like to think it is reasonable to expect them to meet those expectations or to tell me why that is not going to happen. Hell, just tell me it is not going to happen. Because I think then they lay their expecations out for me, it is reasonable to expect me to meet those expectations or at the very least to be sure the other person knows I can't meet them. 

Because a lot of problems could be aleviated if people would just communicate. Talk. Say "I don't understand" or "this is what I need" or "you must go away right now." What has happened that it is so difficult for people to communicate? What is the fear? What is the concern? Why choose not to communicate? 

Somehow we are living in a world in which we've decided it's better to slink off rather than deal with any difficulties or unpleasantness, we try to avert trouble by dodging it rather than dealing with it and moving on. We choose to come to conclusions that may or may not be supported by fact and then we act without every communicating those conclusions or verifying their veracity.  We live in a world that is making me slightly insane. 

I admit it. I don't like it. I would so much rather deal with people that are honest and straightforward. I would rather hear the bad news and deal with the problems than KNOW there is a problem but not be able to do ANYTHING about it because no one is talking about it.  It's exhausting.  

And lest you think I was ignoring the second part of that quote let me go on... I think one of my greatest struggles is dealing with who I am versus who I want to be. I am very aware of my shortcomings, many though they may be. In fact, I've been amused more than once by someone telling me of a shortcoming in a fashion that indicates I might not know about it. Oh, I know about them. I struggle with them. One or two I've just grown to accept. They are my shortcomings and I am sleeping with them at night quite comfortably. 

Recently, as I sat discussing personality tests with someone, I mentioned that on Myers-Briggs I am an ENTJ...loosely translated as mean, cold hearted bitch ( I don't think that it is meant to be that way, it just seems to come across that way at times.) I was asked if I wanted to change that. I don't think I gave a very good answer at the time. I would love to call a re-do. 

No. In this area, I don't want to change. I think the world needs people like me, and we aren't a better place because people are scared of truth and honesty. Because in a world of "oh it is so important to be polite and to not say anything that might upset anyone or hurt anyone's feelings" Honesty, even when honesty is hard, is now considered mean and cold hearted. So, that part of who I am I do not want to change. I'm ok with that. 

BUT I do wish that I had more patience. I wish I was less uptight over things that really don't matter. I wish I had more discipline. I wish I didn't get so crabby when I'm tired or hungry. I wish I wasn't quite so cynical. 

About that honesty?  It probably wouldn't hurt if I learned to choose my words more carefully. I wish that when no one is asking for my opinion, I was better at keeping it inside. I hope that I can learn to temper my words and choose them carefully. 

So, I guess I'll keep trying to make myself as I wish to be and try NOT to be angry with others for not doing what I wish they would.... 

1 comment:

  1. Oh Thomas, indeed! This quote hit me hard. I think all the time that things would go so much BETTER if everyone would just do everything MY WAY. I don't ask much. C'mon.

    I think one of the biggest opportunities for grace is to realize that we are all works in progress, each with his or her own path and journey.

    That said? I still think things would go better done my way. Just sayin'.