People today have become Desensitized towards one another and feelings. More and More I see people act/say whatever they want, accept no ownership for the consequences; often times not caring at all how their actions affect others, AND/OR they hide behind phrases such as:
“I don’t do drama…I hate drama…. I avoid drama…. I don’t like drama”, yet their very actions, attitude, words, etc. are causing drama. Let me make something very clear: There is a big difference between claiming to be ‘drama free’ and AVOID TAKING FULL RESPONSIBILITY/OWNERSHIP. That is only going to CAUSE the very ‘drama/issues’ that people state they don’t like/want. When your actions/words result in negative emotions, then you should evaluate what you did and ask yourself the following questions: “have I listened to them, have I shown respect to them and towards their feelings about what I did?? Have I done all I can to Fix It? Have I done any damage control??” In addition to this, if someone tells you upfront “Look this is what you did/do/been doing, and this is how I feel about it.” You can no longer claim ignorance for any of it. I Like how Tyler Perry as Madea puts it, very simply: “WHEN YOU LET FOLKS KNOW HOW THEIR ACTIONS ARE AFFECTING YOU, THEY EITHER CARE ENOUGH TO OWN UP TO IT AND THEY CHANGE THEIR ACTIONS, OR THEY DON’T. IF THEY DO NOT, THEN YOU MUST DECIDE TO KEEP THEM IN YOUR LIFE TO KEEP DOING IT TO YOU, OR YOU WALK AWAY.” Boom!! This truth applies to every type of relationship. Life is all about relationships, (not only romantic ones). It is about PEOPLE relating to one another. Respecting one another. Appreciating one another. Listening to one another. Understanding one another. Helping one another. Anything we do that NEGATIVELY affects other people’s lives/feelings/emotions, becomes our responsibility to take full ownership of and take action to do ‘damage control’. When we blow off people’s feelings, ignore them, disrespect them, mock them, play games with them, etc. not only is that going to create drama, but it is also going to result in the deepening of those negative feelings that were caused by your actions/words in the first place. And that is how relationships (all forms) end up damaged, distant or coming to an end. Sometimes betrayal is felt, and trust is lost and the dynamics of that relationship changes but not in a positive way.
When you consistently treating others the you we want to be treated (living your life by The Golden Rule) also leads to your own increased happiness and peace. You start to feel better about yourself and about life in general when we practice the art of doing Good Deeds and treating others with respect, kindness, compassion, going out of your way and helping others without expecting anything in return. Generally, you will notice that when you treat others as YOU want to be treated, many (not all but many) will treat you better as well. It’s as if your living by The Golden Rule ends up soaking into other’s through a form of osmosis. Isn’t that a lovely result; to have happy (or happier) people in the world simply by your consistently treating others well on a daily basis, even when they may appear to be undeserving of it or even unappreciative. How others act (or react) should never prevent you from treating others well. It is also important to keep in mind that this does not mean literally only as you want to be treated because although we, as human beings, have the same ‘basic needs’, we are also individuals and have our own individual needs as well. It also consists of putting yourself in their shoes, looking at things from their perspective to help you gain a better understanding of that person, their needs and even why they act as they do. The better we can understand someone, the more we practice looking at things from another’s point of view, the better we are also able to respond to them and cater to specific needs of theirs that, perhaps, may not necessarily be the same for us. Ask yourself, how would YOU want to be treated, in certain circumstances.
Two excellent examples of public figures practicing this with others on a large scale are John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. During his June 11, 1963 speech to the American people regarding the Civil Rights movement he challenged Americans to ask themselves, how do we want to be treated? What is the right way to behave towards others in a country founded on equality? Finally, the speech was a call to action; Kennedy challenged individuals to act, to treat each other with respect in their daily lives. (http://dubois.fas.harvard.edu/sites/all/files/JFK%20Civil%20Rights%20Speech%20June%2011,%201963.pdf). And most Americans past their teens know about Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. While it was focused on the racial injustice at that time with peaceful protests and his unrelenting push for equal rights for ‘Negros’ as he referred to people of ‘color’, he also strove for every human being to be treated equally with a blindness to color, race, religion, social status. (http://www.ushistory.org/documents/i-have-a-dream.htm). While there are certainly countless other public figures who publicly supported equal rights and justice for All Americans, I mention these two as they are two of my personal favorites of which I remember all the way from my childhood. I was born in 1970 and witnessed a lot of racism growing up but was raised to see the character and heart of a person, NOT what they look like, where they come from, their bank account, what type of job they had or what family they were born into (you can’t choose the family Born into, but you can choose who you add to your personal family). I was taught from a young age about The Golden Rule. While I won’t be a hypocrite claiming I always practiced it when I was younger, I will say that I do my best to practice this in my gained wisdom today.
In the spirit of full transparency, let me share a part of how I used to be a long time ago and what I learned from my own past mistakes, selfishness and bad attitude which resulted in me hurting others, disrespecting them, making them feel betrayed or broken trust. There was a time when I made excuses for my actions, blew off people’s feelings or refused to accept MY part in them. Due to immaturity combined with my own personal issues, I hurt people I cared about and loved and was even worse to those I didn’t know and made the excuse of ‘I don’t know them, so they’re not important.” Sometimes, if it was someone I cared a lot about, I would try to make amends, but more often I refused ownership and twisted things around to make ME the victim, rather than the offender. Let me also state, truthfully, that deep down I knew what I had done, how it affected others, saw their anger/hurt/pain which then caused me to feel ashamed, or embarrassed, guilty and full of ego and pride. However, rather than owning up to it and then taking action to make amends, I dug down deeper, buried it all; pretended that their feelings were not MY problem. I would even add insult to injury by saying things such as: “it’s not a big deal…. you’re making something out of nothing…I don’t know what you’re talking about…your feelings are not my problem…just get over it.” Oh yeah, I had quite the stinky attitude towards people in general. That was over 20 years ago before I started making changes within myself, in my attitude and taking responsibility for how I treated others. I am not saying I have never hurt or upset people ever again. I have on occasion because I’m not perfect and still make mistakes sometimes. But I do not do it intentionally. I do MY BEST to consider others, be mindful of my actions and words and their feelings. I do my very best to practice the ‘Golden Rule’ because I now understand and respect how important emotions and feelings are. More importantly, when someone, especially a loved one, lets me know I’ve done/said something that resulted in them feeling offended, disrespected, angry and/or hurt I make a conscious effort to do the following: 1. Apologize SINCERELY (no half ass “well I’m sorry BUT…” No! There are no BUTS in a genuine apology). I take FULL OWNERSHIP even if it was Unintentional because the result/consequence is still the same. 2. Acknowledge their feeling (because I understand how important feelings are). And then 3. I take immediate action to fix/repair the damage. It is important to not wait to take action to make amends as that adds to the negative emotions. And it is the bigger the damage/wrong doing the bigger the apology in both words and actions. It is equally important to understand that a ‘True Apology’ involves TAKING ACTION, and in many instances also CHANGED BEHAVIOR, not just a few quick words or worse…making excuses. When we make excuses, we only add to the negative emotions another is feeling. I want to stress the importance of this, because some people will do wrong, then apologize, then repeat what they apologized about, only to apologize again and then KEEP doing the same behavior instead of changing it. Just because someone SAID I’m sorry does not really mean they are, in fact, truly remorseful. It is what they DO to make amends that matters. The greater the offense the larger the apology must be. Actions will always tell you the truth. Pay attention to actions, not just words.
Bottom line: We ALL have a responsibility to pay attention to and respect the feelings of those around us that are affected by anything we do. When we fail or refuse to do that, we have no one else to blame but ourselves for the consequences of our actions, or lack of them. Treating others are you want to be treated is how we should do our best to live our lives. And respecting the feelings of others, even if we may not fully understand them, once we are made aware of them and our part in how they feel, we then are responsible for them. I encourage you to practice living your day to day life by The Golden Rule. Every day, make a decision to act in Selflessness, and giving more Respect, Appreciation, Understanding and Love to one another.
Other ways to practice living your life by The Golden Rule:
- Help others
- Listen to understand (and then act accordingly)
- Be friendly
- Don’t hate; No racism
- Don’t criticize
- Don’t stereotype or prejudge
- Don’t seek revenge (leave it to Karma)
- Act in Integrity
- Act with Honor
- Be a person of strong moral character
- Your word/promise is YOUR PERSONAL BOND
- Be a personal of strong character and values
- Always do what is ‘right’ even when it’s difficult/painful
- If you don’t want it done to YOU, do NOT do it to anyone else.