How Well Do We Know Ourselves?
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Apr 9, 2012
Here’s how the conversation went:
@JustKissie When people tell you you’ve changed, it’s only because you stopped acting the way they want you to act. #BidTheeFarewell
@Mitch_M Or the way they got used to you acting; just sayin’… 🙂
@JustKissie Either way. They could be who they really are … but we never know the entirety of anyone … so how can we say they changed?
@Mitch_M I think if we know people well enough we know when it’s either them or us; have to really know people though.
@JustKissie Do I smell a blog post coming? Do we even know ourselves?
@Mitch_M Possibly; you writing it? 🙂
@JustKissie WE will write it. You know I write quarterly … if that.
Since I knew the “we” was me, I guess I’m writing it, and it’s this post. To start with, how many of you remember a post I wrote last year titled What Makes People Change? If you didn’t read it, you might want to check it out before going further with this one for some back story.
Anyway, Friday I went to visit my mother for Easter. Yeah, I know Easter was on Sunday, but we knew the crowds would be murder on Sunday so we always do our get together on the Friday before whenever possible.
While there, she’d called and asked the lady who lives across the street from her to come over because Mom had bought a gift for her little girl. So they came over, Mom gave her the gift, and the little girl loved the gift.
We sat and started talking about property values in the area and how they’d dropped since representatives had started trying to sell the house of the man who’d killed his wife, which was right next door to this woman. As we kept talking, we weaved through a history that each of us had with this man and it seems that my mother and I, for the most part, had a very different history and knowledge of this man than Mom’s neighbor did. The only thing I knew that was confirmed by this neighbor is that this man was doing cocaine; that was the easy part.
It seems this man actually had a very violent history, all while living across the street from Mom. He’d actually physically hurt all 4 of his wives (I only knew of 2, Mom knew of 3) and that one of his wives actually had to do one of those midnight special moves when he was out of town to get her and her daughter away from him and go into hiding; shocking stuff.
While it was shocking to see just how little my mother and I knew about some of the demons of this man, the conversation above with Miss Kissie made me start to think about just how little most of us know about ourselves, or are willing to accept about ourselves. Would we become different people if we were suddenly rich or poor? Would our behavior change drastically if suddenly we were famous or powerful? What about our behavior would change if one of our friends suddenly had some of these things and we weren’t as much a part of their lives anymore? Would we be jealous; would we be happy?
I guess overall I’m kind of lucky because I’ve spent a lot of time being introspective. I have no jealousy or envy of others, no matter what they do. I might want to emulate success, but I don’t begrudge anyone their good fortune, whether I believe they deserve it or not.
I almost never think anyone owes me anything unless I’m accused of not doing enough when I feel I’ve done all I’ve needed to do. If people never acknowledge that I’ve done something good for them, I’m okay with it, although it would be nice.
Could I kill? Well now, that’s the interesting question to respond to isn’t it? I have to answer it this way; I probably could depending on the circumstances. If I had to kill to save my life or the lives of those I love, yes. For any other reason I believe I can say no, but that’s after I learned to control some aspects of my younger behavior that I wasn’t overly proud of. Hopefully there are negative aspects of our childhood that we change as we get older. If those are the attributes that people look at and say we’ve changed, I think most of us would be happy with it.
One final thing, addressing my friend Kissie’s question as to whether we can say people have changed if we don’t know their entirety. My response would be of course we can. I knew a musician friend of mine had changed many years ago when he started doing cocaine, even though I only saw him every few weeks. I didn’t need to know his entirety to notice that.
I’ve known people I’ve worked with who were timid and quiet that, over time, became a lot more vocal and stood up for themselves. I don’t need to know their entirety, to know if that’s how they were in their real life to know they’ve changed at work.
It takes perception to notice changes in others. It takes bravery to notice changes in yourself. My longest friends will probably tell you that I’m the same as I was in my late teens. In some ways yes, but in some ways I’m not even close. I sometimes think we’re harder on ourselves than others are on us. Sometimes that’s not such a bad thing if it propels us to try for great things.