in which james is a bad person

the malfeasances

in the past month or so, i got in trouble for:

1) being irresponsible and abandoning a friend who drank too much and not making sure he got home okay
2) being selfish and expecting to maintain rapport/intimacy/affection from someone even though i was the one who broke things off with him
3) being fake/disingenuous and ostensibly pursuing someone for friendship when all i wanted was to use him for information on my ex

part of me thinks the above is unfair and i have infinite excuses and want to defend myself, but more importantly, earned black marks on at least 3 scorecards with people i care about.  (the other part of me is disappointed in myself.)

everyone makes mistakes; two things that matter

angeles and i spent an evening that was supposedly earmarked for studying to develop a 2×2.  in the end, i don’t think the 2×2 quite came together, BUT we did isolate the two key (MECE, if we’re continuing consultant-speak) things that are, in my mind, critical to conflict resolution:

1) self awareness.  knowing what you did wrong.  understanding where other people are coming from.  living life thoughtfully. 

2) willingness to change.  a sincere desire to better yourself and improve relationships with those around you. 

and for the above three situations, i can say confidently that i’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what i did wrong, what i could have done better, and how to avoid outcomes like those in the future. and if other people have wronged me, and they demonstrate the two qualities above, then there’s no reason why i shouldn’t forgive them, right?  that’s all you can ask. 

tangential hypothetical question that inspired the 2×2 discussion

when you have done something wrong, is it better to have done it (1) knowing full well that you were doing something bad, or (2) not knowing at all that something bad was going to happen. 

while the knee jerk reaction is to say that (1) is way worse, angeles made a very compelling argument for why (2) could be worse.    

tangentially related tenets that i strongly believe; would like to live by:

1) perception dictates reality.  if people think you are a bad person, then you are a bad person.  if people think you are angry, then you are angry.  if people think you are fake, then you are fake.  etc.

i mean, obviously the comment is a bit absurd, but the underlying motivations for the comment i believe in 100%:
–it is incredibly easy to lie to yourself.  even if you think that other people are crazy, it is important to at least consider and understand what they’re saying to challenge your own beliefs.
–it does not particularly matter if you are “justified” in how you act if you cannot change the perception that you are justified in how you act.  if people think you’re an asshole, it’s arguably irrelevant whether or not you actually are an asshole.  in other words, empathy beats self-righteousness. 

(converse is also a little dangerous: you’re a good person if you’re perceived as a good person even if you are in actuality quite evil.  it is also dangerous always pandering to public sentiment, yes. but if you respect the public, agree with the values of the public, believe that the public is made up of good people, then…. it’s not so much pandering as it is taking advice?)

2) the only person who believes your excuses are you.  rule #76: no excuses, play like a champion.  no excuses (coach hughes, 7th grade PE; stuck with me for a long time).  totally impressed when people take responsibility for actions.  i feel like i am always fighting the urge to defend myself, make excuses. 

3) life is too short to hold grudges forever.  need to let things go, need to not always get in the last word.  sometimes “being right” is not worth burning bridges.  always working on this.  hope the aforementioned people feel the same way.

4) it is important to care about people. as much as i like to tout the importance of selfishness on the blog, it does really matter to me that i care for others and treat them well.  ugh, inconsistency in the blog.

5) it sucks being the one making the decisions.  so easy to yell/blame the person who makes things happen.  makes the hard/unpopular decisions.  bystanders rarely get blamed, but where would we be if nobody was willing to get their hands dirty?

finding the balance between ignorance and overanalysis

the one thing that i think is dangerous about the “self awareness” bit is that… i think on the spectrum of things, i already am quite indecisive and tend to overthink things.  not to say that my increased self-awareness is necessarily a lengthening of the decision process as it is a change in priorities, but at the very least, it does seem to fly in the face of the “don’t worry about it” (it=everything) sentiment espoused by dave, which i also think is valuable. 


i am, for the record, not a great person.  selfish, irresponsible, fake.  i mean, i’d like to think that, on the whole, i am considerate, responsible, and sincere more so than the above, but i definitely do not act that way all the time.  no delusions. 

hmmm, whether i would like to be considerate, responsible, and sincere 100% of the time?  tougher question.  who wants to be perfect?!  fuck if it doesn’t make sense/feel great to be selfish/irresponsible/fake sometimes. eggs/omelets.


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