This morning, I woke up and the first thing I did was text Kate. Kate is my spirit animal, when we are together I feel like I am in my original world. Our personalities are quite similar (affectionate and gentle), so this morning when I began to ponder over the thoughts that have been bugging me pretty much all my life, I knew that she would be the best one to talk to.
It's about human nature: why is it that when we are very affectionate and very gentle with people, they seem to take us for granted and not appreciate us? Then when you basically treat people like lesser beings, that's the time they will take you seriously and appreciate you? This is something that has bugged me all my life. Somewhere along the way, the two-way street become a one-way street, and suddenly, I have to be the most supportive being in the universe, forgetting myself in the process, expected to put up with all kinds of irreverent attitudes.
I think that the fault I have played in this can be found in how, deep inside, I have this core belief that keeps on persisting: If you just keep on giving, at some point, the best in people will come out and things will be a lot better and a lot different. And I consider this to be a "fault" of mine, because, one must realise that rarely is there any "best" about any human being. Usually, what you're already looking at is already the best! There are these rare instances when people are worth it... but those are rare and worth waiting for. All the other times, it's as good as it gets! What you see is what you get!
I think that people so easily mistake generosity, kindness and affection as traits that other people develop within themselves in order to please. So, then they think that, they are rewarding you by letting you please them. I don't think that people understand that many affectionate people are not people-pleasers! And if there is one takeaway from today's post that I want you to always remember (and that I really hope changes the world soon), it's that many affectionate, brightly natured people are not being kind and generous because they want to please you. They are being that way because they were born that way. I think one woman has put this into words the best, it's when Audrey Hepburn said,"I was born with an enormous need for affection and a terrible need to give it." That's not a trait of a people-pleaser, that's just a personality. People like Kate, Audrey and I— we thrive on human relationships and the warmth that these connections generate. But if it's going to be anything less than authentic, then we don't need you in our lives. We don't keep people around just for the sake of keeping people around so we can please them and in doing so, thus feel successful and fulfilled. No. I have never been a people-pleaser. The most insulting thing anyone has ever said to me, was when a guy once told me (a very, very, very long time ago), "I really appreciate your desire to please", and that was the most insulting thing I have ever heard in my life. Never talked to him again after that! I guess then he realised I couldn't care less if I pleased him or not (and I don't mean sexually, I am only referring to kindness and my embodiment of a joyful disposition). If people are pleased with me, I want them to know that it's because of me, it's not because of them. You're not pleased with me because I'm trying to please you; you're pleased with me because you are blessed enough to have me around. I know I'm a blessing and really, I'm not afraid to say it, either.
Kate told me, "If you're toooooo nice, that's really what happens. I think it has to do with the fact that if you have an attitude and you come across as this person with a strong attitude, then people know they need to think twice before they treat you a certain way or say something that might be offensive and could hurt you." And she's right, I think that's the cherry on top of this sundae cone of thoughts.
She and I are related, my first-degree-cousin married her, which makes us pretty closely related as in-laws. Couldn't have asked for a better in-law. She regularly gifts me with cakes and greets me with a presence that I often see reflected in the mirror when I look at myself. It's like when you look into the mirror and wonder if anyone is remotely like you and then you one day see the answer walking around outside of you (yes, there is a person who is remotely like you). That's what she's like, to me.
I wonder if it has to do with "spoiling" people. You know how you can spoil a child by giving it everything it wants? Perhaps it happens between adults, too. Although, I genuinely do not believe in this concept applied to children. I gave my son absolutely every single form of attention and affection that he could have ever dreamt of and he truly is a well-rounded, well-founded young man today. I don't believe that children can be given too much of a good thing. At least, not my children! When something is good, it is truly good and it doesn't spoil. I suppose I think too highly of people in this world and maybe I see them as I would see my own children? That's wrong of me, though. We have to have a clear distinction of what we can expect from people and have a very clear distinction between the value of people. Really, no matter what the systems of this world tell you, not all people have the same value, and they shouldn't. Some people in your life need to have the utmost value and from there on it becomes a pyramid-shaped visual. We can't place the same value upon all, nor the same expectations upon all. Our expectations must be in ourselves and those closest to us in soul. We just can't expect the same from everyone out there.
At the same time, I also have mercy on all of these people in the world! Why? Because we are all learning and some of us have learnt more than others. Should those who have learnt less, be chastised for their own stupidity? We treat stupidity as if it is something funny, or to be angry about... I know it's hard to realise this... but stupidity is just like a disability. We don't mock or hate those who are differently-abled. We help them. And that's where my perception of mercy comes from. And also, I feel mercy because, I am beginning to realise that appreciation is actually a form of art that not all are fluent at. The art of appreciation does not come easy to some. I would go so far to say that appreciation is a language and people really do need to learn how to speak that language and just like any language-learning endeavour, it takes time and hard work! I myself, learnt the beautiful art of appreciation from a little girl in my elementary class named, Heaven. Yes, her name really was Heaven! Anyway, she would write "notes of appreciation" to me, every single day for 3 years! I kept every single note! I looked forward to going to school each day to find those notes in my desk, saying things like, "I really, really like the way you smile, it lights the room", or, "Your kindness makes my life worthwhile", or, "Your outfit yesterday was so perfect." She would draw hearts and flowers and glue glitters on her notes... I really did keep every single note, those notes changed my life and opened me up at a subatomic level to what it means to appreciate other people. Before I learnt it from Heaven, I didn't know how to do that, either! She taught me a language over a period of 3 years and that's how I know how to speak it, today. So how can I not have mercy for the inability of others to speak a language that I myself had to learn over a long period of time? This is where my understanding comes from, where my patience comes from. Because I was once a student, myself.
People want generosity when it's not coming from them. People want understanding when they are not the ones required to understand. People want loyalty but they are not the first to give it. And this is universally the character of mankind, the sooner you accept it, the faster your life will get better. So how are we supposed to live our lives whilst being our genuinely authentic, affectionate selves? I guess the answer is to find people who understand affection, who speak the language of gentleness and who know that kindness isn't a noun; kindness is a verb! Look for those people, but until then, keep the best of yourself to yourself. 🌹 On the other hand, you can be to others what my classmate Heaven was, to me. You, too, can teach others a language they may have never even heard before! 🌹