“Mistakes are a part of
being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life
lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal
mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.”
"If you don't have
enemies, you're doing nothing worthwhile."
So went a response to a
blog post I read recently, written in reference to another blogger who had
apparently gotten himself into some trouble. I can no longer remember what
the dustup was about, or which side appeared to be on the right side of
the argument. But the whole scene - and especially the above statement -
got me thinking.
While on many occasions this may be true, such a declaration, especially
as a blanket catch-all, can be extremely misleading. More often than not
it is a simple cover up for bad behavior – an excuse. People use it either
when they’re being just plain stupid or absolutely insensitive or nasty to
those around them, and they just fail to control themselves sufficiently
to avoid a heated difference of opinion.
It's true that when you get into a public forum and do or say something
that will get people talking about you, it will at times draw out
unwarranted criticism. But it is also often a simple fact that you get the
exact reaction you asked for and deserve (not always the one you wanted,
but definitely the one you asked
for by your behavior).
“ Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to
recognize a mistake when you make it again.”
– Franklin P. Jones
watched people using such a rationale for excusing themselves from
behavior which brought them criticism. Probably even have done it myself a
time or two.
hear some form of: "Oh well, you can't get love from everybody," when they
know full well that the negative reaction received was due wholly or in
large part to their own repulsive or harmful actions or reactions. It’s a
pretty weak excuse for negative behavior.
Naturally, humans being what we are, we cover bad behavior with more bad
behavior – we obfuscate, and if that doesn’t work we make excuses. If that
doesn’t bring the desired result we lie outright. (Is it any wonder there
are so many words for lying in the English language – dissembling,
untruth, mendacity, misleading statement, falsehood, dishonesty, deceit,
fabrication, invention, tale, fib – need I go on?).
things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure
about the universe.”
bring it home: We've all known building support workers just like this,
haven’t we? Maybe even some supers?
Impetuous behavior or a reaction that’s out of kilter to the situation and
off-the-charts, an insensitive criticism at high decibel, a downright
idiotic comment, all will bring a swift and negative reaction to those
listening to what is being said or reading what was written, and suddenly
the overwhelming urge to defend their own stupidity is keenly felt.
What usually happens is an initial
thrashing around for a good defense, but since there is no truly good
defense for bad behavior, all that can be mustered is something along the
lines of: I've been mischaracterized, I've been victimized, I'm being
picked on because I’ve always been this way (what - an insensitive
jerk?!) – it’s just the way I am, there’s nothing I can do about it –
take me or leave me.
Or, you’re reading me wrong because I’m
a woman (or other minority), or I have too little education, or I meant
something totally different from how it was taken; I've been
“Yes, we love peace, but we
are not willing to take wounds for it, as we are for war.”
–John Andrew Holmes
not to say that now and then there isn't a real misunderstanding. Of
course it happens. On occasion there is even the simple explanation that
someone may have said something in the heat of the moment that he later
regrets. Which means that now there should at least be an apology for the
tone, yet many times we can't bring ourselves to do so.
all found ourselves in that spot. It’s a simple fact of human nature that
sometimes we get worked up and emotional and say things that, as the
over-wrought emotions cool, we come to regret.
Now the question is, how do I make it
right, how does one go about smoothing things over? Do I say, that's not
what I really meant, I meant this instead of that, when everyone around
you knows you're now lying to cover up your bad behavior? Do I say, I was
totally misunderstood, my words have been twisted? Even the average person
can see right through such dodgy footwork.
“Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable
ways it can change someone else’s life forever. -Margaret Cho
often the absolute best thing to do, but still the hardest by far, is
simply to say, "Look I reacted excessively. I'm sorry. My behavior was
wrong. Please forgive me."
extremely hard to do, and doesn’t get much easier with practice. (Humility
is easiest accomplished in small doses.)
sometimes such a fresh start is all we need to pick ourselves up, dust
ourselves off, walk away grinning and sensing real peace within ourselves.
And with new resolve, new purpose in our spirits. There are times when it
can make all the difference.