Pregunta del día – why in Spanish you ask? Well, I promised myself that I would continue to practice my Spanish after our year of travel in Mexico and I have yet to sit down and do it, so indulge me a little, ok? By the way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, it means question of the day.
So, my question of the day, and one that comes to mind quite often, is why are some people so mean? We all know the Golden Rule, right? Do unto others as we would have others do unto us. It seems like such an easy concept but much more difficult for many to put into practice.
I remember back when I was a young, eager manager, working with the public. I decided to have a staff meeting and one of my first reminders to the staff was the importance of treating others as we would like to be treated. Something our mothers taught us and simple, right? Everyone should just nod their heads in agreement now and I can move on to other business. What I got instead was the big eye-roll. What the heck?!
We certainly can all theorize over why people are so mean. So let’s start by laying out some of the reasons for this behavior:
- unhappiness with our own lives
- emotional or physical pain
- low self-esteem
There are any number of reasons, or excuses, some might say, for why we are mean. It is true we are products of our upbringing but this becomes a tired, worn-out expression, doesn’t it, when we use this as justification for being so hateful to others. To me it just feels like I expend more energy being mean (and yes, I can be) than when I practice compassion.
Martha Beck, PhD and columnist for O Magazine, wrote a very interesting piece on the subject, addressing how we can and should respond to those mean-spirited people we meet in our lives. No, you guessed it, we shouldn’t slap a “Mean People Suck” sticker on our back bumper and call it good. There are much more fruitful ways of empowering ourselves.
Given the world we now find ourselves in, it is not surprising to hear more reports about bullying, domestic violence, hate crimes, and child abuse popping up in the news. Sometimes I’m shocked I don’t meet more hateful people than I do! I’d like to think that maybe it has something to do with how I treat people (for the most part, lest you think I have a Mother Teresa complex, or something).
Since I can’t fix anyone else (and goodness knows I’ve tried!) I choose today to practice compassion with everyone I meet. Given that it is an overcast, chilly day (a good day to stay indoors), one of the few I will see today is my husband. What a lucky man he is, at least for today!
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