Tuesday, May 09, 2006

learning about things

I have a friend whose website is called learning for living. That's all I have to say about that.

Except that a few of the things I've gone thru in the last while (eg, divorce) have reminded me that we're always learning about living. Or we should be. I'm less about having things figured out now. More about just being the best I can be in my situation and being willing to be wrong, being willing to change my mind, being willing to learn. Most of the stuff I spew about relationships is basically "Here's How It Seems To Me Right Now". Your mileage may vary.


Some things I have observed lately:

A while ago I watched someone field a request for a favor from a friend. It was the type of thing I'd have handled by either
a) saying yes, and possibly regretting it, or
b) saying no, and feeling guilty
The person I was watching did neither one -- she said (paraphrased), "You know, that really sounds like a lot of work. Let me think about it, and decide if I can do it or not. Let's talk tomorrow, okay?"
That may not seem like a big deal to you -- but to me it was very instructive. It was honest, it was authentic, it was not offensive, and it allowed her to make her own choice about whether to take on the favor.

Person A was supposed to meet person B at a certain place and time, but fell asleep and missed the appointment. Instead of telling a white lie ("I didn't feel well"), or making a lot of excuses for *why* she fell asleep, she simply said "I'm so sorry. I fell asleep. Please forgive me."
Simple, straightforward, disarmingly honest, effective.

Person C needed to tell person D not to nag her any more (about something D felt needed fixing in C's life). C said "You're my friend. I love you. I appreciate very much that you worry for me. I respect your views. But the things you want me to do are *my* decision, for *my* life. I value your friendship. I value your concern. Thank you for everything you have done for me. But I need you to not tell me what to do, to not insert yourself into my affairs, as I don't insert myself in yours. "
Once again, honest, clear, and non-offensive.

My point with the above is that one of the things I've learned recently is that I had developed a habit of managing people. That is, of attempting to manage their perceptions of me. I surmise I learned it in Jr High, when I found that the real, authentic me didn't command a lot of (okay, any) respect or admiration.

There's a limit, of course -- depending on who we're interacting with, a certain amt of perception management may be necessary. And we probably all have aspects of our personality we're better off not expressing fully.

But I am trying to learn to be more authentic, more present, less judgmental, less manipulative in the way I live my life. It's different, and good.


At Wed May 10, 01:40:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Bryan,
I feel there is much to be learned in the approaches you describe. I think, however, that there are times when one much step out of "the sage philosopher" mode and risk offending the person you are close to.
Example: Person A:(you) Jane, I just don't know why you're doing thus & so.
Jane: You don't need to know. I have my own reasons.
Person A: Well, we've been friends a long time and I just wanted you to know how I felt.
Person B: Go to Blazes.
Person A: (runs out of the room crying.)

I notice my dialogue didn't turn out quite right. I'll watch your column for further tips.

At Wed May 10, 09:27:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Amy said...

Sounds like you are having a midlife readjustment not crisis but close.

At Wed May 10, 10:29:00 AM PDT, Blogger Kylee said...

Thats what its all about right...always learning and being open to learning. Not thinking you know all because there is no way that is possible...never thinking that you can't be better than you are....remembering that we can care about others without running their lives....never taking for granted what you have and how you treat people but at the same time being true to yourself...it can be done without hurting others. It just takes some effort, some time and awareness. But it feels good doesn't it....

At Wed May 10, 02:20:00 PM PDT, Anonymous si said...

(this is not very philosophical...) you know how i can translate a few of your posts to something that i tell/mention to you? well, this is another one that *i will* indirectly take credit for (based on our conversation of passive resentment towards a possible vendor). of course, you may choose not to think so but you'd be wrong. ;-)

oh, and i should try to emulate these as i'm more like you rather than your friend...

At Wed May 10, 07:48:00 PM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

Anon: I fail to grasp your point, but that didn't stop me from laughing out loud.

Amy: When do I get to the part about a new sports car full of scantily-clad cheerleaders?

Kylee: Yes.

Si: full credit for whatever you want.



Post a Comment

<< Home