Van E. Harl
NOT HOW YOU FEEL – HOW YOU ACT
Other than your mother, nobody really cares how you feel – they care how you act. Moms by the very composition of the role as female parent are required by God, and nature, to ask about and care how you feel. Don’t get me wrong Dads care also, but they are men and are pre-designed to go out and fix things. There comes a point in a child’s outlandish human drama when even Dad has had enough. At that point he no longer cares that you are having a bad day or bad month or bad year. He cares about what actions you are manifesting toward the rest of the family because of your out-of-control feelings.
For the most part in life, you have to remember that the average person you interact with truly does not care how you feel but is very concerned about your actions. Yes, a person will ask how you are when they first greet you. This however is done more as an expected interaction of a polite society. All anyone really wants to hear is “fine.” You do not want that person (especially if she/he is your boss) to stop at your desk and spend the next ten minutes telling you the reason they look so bad is because their sixteen year old daughter is three months pregnant and was throwing up all night. And now, because of the lack of sleep and the self-destructive nature of the daughter, your supervisor will take it out on you and the rest of the office for the next 72 hours.
What is more important to a person is how you will express your actions toward them during the day, based on your control or lack of control of your emotions. If the boss walks into the office some morning in a foul mood you really do not care why she is so out of sorts. The first thing that comes to mind is ‘how do I survive the workday with this person on a potential rampage.’
You had big plans on asking for a raise or presenting a new project. Instead you now have to worry if you will still have a job at the end of the day. You are extremely concerned how your boss will direct her actions based on emotions toward you in the upcoming hours of this very scary workday. You just want to survive until 5:00PM and get home in one piece. You are genuinely not concerned if her daughter ran off with an outlaw biker or her husband is leaving for the fourth time. You just don’t want her to verbally destroy you in front of your co-workers this morning.
We do care if people have real serious problems. If there is a death in the family or a sudden illness everyone has a certain amount of compassion for their fellow person and that emotionally debilitating new life-problem. But even some of these legitimate human problems can take on a force of their own if not brought under control and can generate a new set of reasons for bad behavior. What we are tired of dealing with is the constant “bad-behavior” that a person feels she/he has the right to inflict on us simply because they have “major issues” in their life.
Everybody has issues in their life; this however is not a license to constantly take it out on your family, friends or fellow workers. Worse yet is taking it out on subordinates or vulnerable family members. Bad behavior is bad behavior. “I have this addiction to love or gambling or sex, this is why I treat my family so poorly” says the person who has just been arrest for beating his wife half to death. This is a lot of Bravo Sierra (BS). Addiction is a negative physical reaction to the removal of a chemical substance such as caffeine, drugs or alcohol from the body. Destroying your family life because of your lust for gambling or sex is just flat out “bad behavior.”
But there it is that “bad” word and in this day and age you are guilty of unacceptable labeling if you call someone’s actions “bad.” The problem is if someone is demonstrating bad behavior then their actions might truly be, (surprise-surprise) their own responsibility. Responsibility for bad behavior is what a person tries very hard to avoid, many times spending more effort avoiding the responsibility than working to curb the negative actions that are hurting the innocent.
Try telling some mother that her little darling boy who is acting up in the grocery store is behaving badly. She will cut your heart out right there in the store for daring to pass judgment on her little angle and emotionally scarring for life the young future criminal. This, as the child is stealing snacks, breaking milk bottles and assaulting his sister in front of your shopping cart. Who are you to say this child’s actions are bad behavior? It is bad behavior and the fact that the parent is refusing to deal with the issue is also a demonstration of parental bad behavior.
We have all heard the expression Drama Queen. Theatrics have a small bit to do with this, but beyond the occasional quest of attention seeking, what the actions of a Drama Queen are, is a demonstration of bad behavior. So what poor person who is trying to demonstrate good behavior will be the target of opportunity of this new round of calculated bad behavior? Will it be you on the receiving end of an emotional outburst or are you the unrestrained individual who is having a meltdown at work and trying to take it out on the rest of the office? Nobody cares how you feel; they care how you are going to act and more importantly how your actions will impact their lives. If you push the limits of poor inter-human actions there may come a day when even your mother will fail to ask or more importantly care how you feel.
Bad behavior is something you can control, if you choose to. Now go call you mother, she most likely can give you some real insight into your actions and how you need to work on treating others.
©Copyright June 28, 2004 by Van E. Harl