A benefit and curse of being ‘a nice guy’ is I have a lot of women friends and they confide a lot of information to me, including their insecurities. I often make the statement, “Men are stupid, they don’t know if a woman is hot until she tells him she is.”
Of course this is a hyper-simple statement, meant to bolster ego than anything, but there is a gem of truth in it and it doesn’t apply to just men. In terms of how other people treat us, a lot of it is based on how we treat ourselves. Our words and actions in how they relate to ourselves is a giant, huge, massive road sign for how others treat us.
If we constantly talk about ‘being fat’ whether we empirically are or not, people will treat us as if we were. Talk about how dumb we are and all the brilliant ideas we have will never carry the same weight as the trivial errors we have made. We set the paradigm and then those around us will only pay attention to those words and actions that fit that paradigm.
Another aphorism I am fond of is ‘Perception is reality.’ It is an overly simple and pragmatic point of view, I agree. Yet, it works. When two drivers on the road have a near miss and they go on to tell other people about what had happened, neither will know the full Truth of the near-accident so they relay just the parts they perceived and I guarantee, they perceived it incorrectly. There are two realities of that moment because there were two different perceptions. Managing people’s perception of us is as important as managing their expectations of us. When we verbally degrade ourselves in front of others, we are guiding their perception.
I counsel my women friends to not talk about ‘being fat’ in front of their dates/potential-dates even if it is just in terms of ‘Oh, I’m not going to have that ice cream, I don’t want to get fat.’ or ‘I exercise so I can eat whatever I want.’ Both those sentences contain a logic element that implies “if I eat the ice cream, I will be fat” or “if I stop exercising, I will be fat”. I don’t take my own counsel very well.
In terms of attitude adjustment, I’ve allowed myself to beat the crap out of myself for a long time. “I’m not wealthy.” “If I don’t manage my money I’ll be in the poorhouse.” “My car is crap.” “I’m goofy looking, of course no woman will be attracted to me.” Yada yada yada and on and on. Really, I can get on such a roll beating up on myself that it can take days to recover. I’ve always thought that I was trying to prevent self-delusional behavior. I’ve always thought of it as being ’emotionally honest’. There is a time and place for emotional honesty, and that is alone or with close personal friends who have enough information to have formed their own sense of Truth about us.
Some key questions come out of this line of thought. How do I want people to see me and Who do I want to be to other people?
I’m the guy who you can count on, absolutely when you say you need me. There are caveats here because I will use terms like ‘social obligation’ and will gripe about doing something that takes me out of my normal routines. I’m an introvert and that just comes with the territory.
I’m intelligent and analytical.
I’m creative and innovative.
I’m pragmatic, cautious but adventurous.
I’m a romantic, a sensitive soul. I enjoy creating a sense of wonder around a person, bringing stuffed animals to life, crafting a world of whimsy, care, and comfort. Love for me comes in one form, unconditional.
I’m kind and empathic. I feel others’ pains and worries as if they were my own.
I value justice, fairness and taking action to make things just and fair.
I’m a leader. I make things happen.
In some of these cases, I can hear the voices of friends chuckling, but I don’t think anybody would out right argue I’m wrong on any of these points. The argument, I think, would just be in the extent. I’ve picked up friends from parking lots at odd hours of the day when their cars broke down, but I’ve often bailed on going to parties because I wasn’t eager to deal with people. I’ve watched pets, helped move and even attempted to broker relationships over barbecues.
Do I make all my words and actions conform to these elements or am I also providing a paradigm of something else?
I’m ugly. I’m cheap. I’m afraid of the world. I’m incompetent. I can’t handle stress.
I’m sure a thorough survey of my tweets, journal entries, and private emails will demonstrate all sorts of negative paradigms that I don’t want associated with me. If I expect the world to view and treat me in a particular way, I need to take steps to treat myself in that way first.
When I treat myself with kindness and respect, others will treat me with kindness and respect.