Thursday, 17 September 2015

Do you prefer cats to people?

The beauty of Nature never fades : you see elderly people revelling in it. Instead, it is the negative behaviours of people that ultimately wearies us.

How many times has one heard someone say “Frankly, I prefer cats to people”. Such people may be deeply wounded or they may never have understood the basics of how to make relationships work, long term.  It is possible that cats understand this better than some of us?

                             A lesson in constructive, positive behaviour from a cat

No one can be continually abused, negated, ignored, belittled, rejected or unappreciated and stay optimistic forever. Every has their limit. Everything we do has consequences - including not looking into why we are behaving badly towards others. So to avoid ending up preferring cats to people, it is helpful to be able to confront difficult behaviours early on, by attempting to understanding why difficult people behave as they do.

People can be like the seasons - infinitely complex - like weather, changeable. Enduring difficult behaviour can be like battling against an Arctic north wind in driving rain. We need to know how to identify and then handle where this ‘wind’ is coming from, remembering that sometimes, we exhibit these negative behaviours ourselves (we need to maintain a forgiving spirit).

What affects human behaviour?
Poor social skills and poor parenting can affect behaviour. Illness can affect character, as well as age, dementia, accidents, personality disorders, divorce, traumatic shock and addiction. People are subject to genetic, family, gender, political and national characteristics. Holding together a disciplined, moral, compassionate personality in a rampantly secular liberal age is hard work requiring constant self monitoring and examination: such an effort can slip, in any of us. Suddenly coming into a lot of money, winning the Lottery can affect behaviour. Human beings are all vulnerable to flux (constant change).

The Unconscious
We all have basic needs. No one wants to feel unintelligent, lacking prospects, unlovable, unappreciated, completely unskilled, without gifts, or seen as idle. Some people harbour lifelong suppressed wounds from half-informed relatives’ insensitive comments before they were five. Some suffer from an unloving upbringing, insecurities from rivalries at school (which is highly competitive), from imagined vulnerabilities or slights, or even real ones.

Some, rightly or wrongly. feel unattractive physically and 'second class' (not realising that beauty can be a real curse). We live in a very competitive and some would say, over- competitive Western world where, we are told, the perfect winner takes all. This is not true. Some people who feel ‘a failure’ at school win in the end, bringing forth success out of hard work, knowledge, kindness and talent. The 'ultimate' prize is heaven - and that is free!

Unconscious feelings can cause difficult behaviours such as arrogance, bullying, dominating or controlling others, complaining, rudeness, aggression and lack of cooperation. Some start forcing their opinions on others, doing life ‘their way’ to prove their ability and capability (lacking flexibility) - not realising that ‘their way’ is difficult for others to negotiate. They may not realise that this alienates others. Then they see themselves as further slighted, creating a vicious cycle. Some have lost all trust in anyone and don’t care how much they damage people.

Making relationships work v destructive behaviours
Some never learned that there is only one set of reactions which make relationships blossom and work - like sun in springtime, or oil in a car.

One cannot combine destructive behaviours like constantly criticising others or taking pride in finding the perceived weak points (unnecessarily) always responding as if the glass is 'half full' and expect positive, long term, social outcomes. This is destructive behaviour. Equally, passive reactions to the positivity in others, downplaying their ideas, not appreciating them, lacking enthusiasm about them will not create good outcomes. Aggression against anyone is like flying a flag saying: 'Momentarily, I despise you'.

The only way to be sure to make relationships work is to maintain active constructive behaviour at all times.

How to handle this?

The first step to handle someone’s difficult behaviours is to analyse them. First, one asks whether this behaviour is motivated by any of the life events listed in the first paragraph above. Then, one asks whether this behaviour is caused by:
  • aggression (including passive aggression) 
  • jealousy or rivalry 
  • by negativity 
  • a complaining spirit - if so what is causing that? 
  • lack of appreciation - if so, is it your fault in any way? 
One does not share this insight with the person. One’s aim is to get them to see it for themself. One focuses on the behaviour, not on perceived fault, or the 'bad' person.
  • One then asks why someone is taking a certain approach (let them think about it) and listens carefully to what they say.
  • When they express themselves, one reflects back to them exactly what they say as one understands it. “I hear you are saying X,Y and Z” and then check this is right. If not, correct it without being judgemental.
This process helps them to come to an insight themselves (possibly deeper and more informed than yours). This enables healing growth.

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