Tonight as I came home I realized that I am a poor human trainer. I do a poor job of setting clear limits and expectations. I am often frustrated with poorly trained companions. Upon reflection on this problem, I have realized that I am to blame for this. I am even stupid enough to compromise things that I am not at all willing to accept.
Each set of interactions between two people constitute a give and take that make up the accepted behaviors for the relationship. Let's say that one of those people has a habit of blasphemy because of their Atheistic beliefs. If the other person is offended by the use of the blasphemy but says nothing then they have given implied consent for the blasphemies to continue. A polite request to not use blasphemous language is typically enough to establish new boundaries for the relationship. Seems simple?
Here is the flaw. Many people, like me, care about what other people think and have internalized a need to be liked. I am very guilty of allowing behavior I disapprove of to continue in my presence for long periods of time keeping my silence or even playing along with the behavior rather than voicing my objection. This comes from a lack of a sense of self-worth. The pathetic logic behind it all being," It isn't worth losing the acceptance of this person to stop them saying words. After all, it isn't that big of a deal and I enjoy their company." In other words, I would rather accept the pain they cause me than face the pain of being alone without them.
Never allow yourself to accept this compromise. This is emotional suicide.
If the behavior is minor it will probably just grate on a person's nerves. What if it isn't minor? What if it isn't a single behavior? What if the majority of a person's behaviors are major violations and offend you? If you have said nothing you have taught the person you are dealing with to treat you badly. This is how people wake up married to one another after 5 years and suddenly are complaining to one another about things that happened weeks, months, or years in the past.
Who wronged who?
To be fair, you have to treat all complaints about how you treat others seriously. You cannot define their feelings. You cannot limit how they define the pain you cause them. I certainly would respect a person's right to object. Their objection may or may not actually change anything.
At the same time, you cannot answer for past wrongs. You can only be responsible for trespasses after they are brought to your attention. Moreover, you have to care enough about the person to be willing to change your behavior. If you are not willing, you also have to have the balls to say so. It is NOT ok to agree to change, and continue offensive behaviors.
I am guilty of violating every aspect of this blog up to this point. I have made many of these mistakes multiple times. I am responsible for the failure of many friendships and relationships I have had over the years by not training or refusing to be trained by the other person.
As an example:
I hate to be texting while I am at work or when I am driving.My phone going off, especially on the late shift I work, distracts me. I feel an obligation to answer the text. Rather than stating this, I find myself having unwanted conversations frequently. I have only ever told one person to not text me while I am working or driving. She violates this request daily. She is guilty of crossing a boundary. She is also the only person I have a right to be frustrated with. My lack of complaint and my engagement in the conversation has encouraged everyone else. I have taught them that I am available and that I don't mind. Even my lack of consistency in the person I have objected to texting me gives a completely mixed message. When I am willing to participate in the behavior one minute and resent it the next, I am the problem.
A person really should be consistent with their expectations.
Different humans require different amounts of intimacy and involvement. I am very frequently aloof. I prefer to be alone as often as humanly possible until I desire companionship. The exception to this is that I value intelligent conversation.
I do seriously mean intelligent conversation by this. Messaging me or trying to start a conversation if you have nothing at all to say will earn you an eye roll at best or contempt at worst. Telling me you love me is NOT an intelligent conversation. Love is an understood thing for me. It is a binary condition. You do or you do not. "What are you doing," also does not constitute an intelligent conversation. I do not mind it as an opener, but please have some additional direction for the conversation to follow up.
All that said, I am not all that smart. My idea of intelligent conversation can be as simple as talking about a TV show, book, movie, or the current status of your genitals. Almost anything related to booty or boobs will catch my attention. Maybe I really mean that I want interesting conversation more than intelligent conversation.
Because I value being alone I seriously enjoy humans capable of sharing companionable silence. I want to be able to sit next to you and write in peace. I want to be able to concentrate on things other than you without you feeling neglected. My focus not being on you does not mean I don't like you or that I am mad at you. I very frequently like people who can exist around me without demanding my full attention. Provide me with this and you may find that I am much more interested in you than you previously expected.
For many of the people, I have shared time with I didn't set clear expectations. In enjoying their companionship, I have allowed myself to paint a picture of someone who deals well with clingy or needy people. I am NOT good with those types of people. Spending time with takes a ton of self-confidence. I cannot constantly comfort, console, maintain, or pet you. More than cannot, I do not want to.
I make the mistake of believing that other humans think like me. I am observant. I reflect on the behaviors of others. I try to decipher the mystery of others. My experience with other people is that I am VERY different. I don't think too many people have worked hard to understand the David Engima. The same self-esteem issue I have talked about in past blogs had me believing that I was not worth the effort, and that was acceptable.
I don't feel that way anymore. I have a heavy expectation that the people in my life take the time to understand me. My blog is basically a big how-to guide for me. It displays very intimate thoughts and feelings for anyone to see. I advertise the damned thing. I am basically flopping my psyche out on the table and saying, "If you want to look deeper into me, feel free. Oh and I don't you telling me what you think of it."
Best of all, People change.
I think I go through a major life change about once every few months. It may be more often. I have gained a massive amount of self-esteem. My confidence has gone from being mostly affected swagger to hide insecurity to genuinely seeing myself in a positive light. I accepted my past. I didn't forgive myself or come to terms with it. I was that person at that place and time. I acted the way I did for reasons that were valid to me at that time. There is no apology needed. Acceptance is extremely powerful. Letting go of my own past let me stop holding other people responsible for theirs.
It is seldom that it is too late for someone to choose to act the right way.
Training the humans around you is a constant process. As you change, your expectations may change with you. The David I was January 1, 2018, didn't survive until the 19th. It is very understandable that my friends have changed. The people around me are having to learn to deal with the person I am 11 months later. Some are coping better than others.
I can tell you that a few of the people in my life believe I am willing to compromise and deal with things that I would have a year ago and absolutely will not now. Some of these people will have to be retrained. Some of these people are not going to survive my metamorphosis. Change isn't always comfortable. I am not afraid of growing pains.
I have become adept at finding new homes for the strays in my life.
This is a theme I will probably build on some more, but I think I have struck upon an idea I needed to learn about 30 years ago. I certainly would have put up with a lot less bullshit. I would not have broken Rule # 10 quite so much.
For those of you in need of a recap, Rule #10 states:
Don't take any shit that you don't have to take. Pick your battles. It is your responsibility to not give anyone else unnecessary shit. Own your shit.
To sum this up I think human training involves some steps. They are as follows:
- Be honest about your expectations.
- Accept the expectations of others or walk away.
- Do not compromise things that are meaningful to you. Be willing to walk away for yourself.
- Be consistent.
- Communicate as you change.
- Second chances are acceptable. Don't allow there to be a third chance.
- The only meaningful apology is changed behavior.
Really, seriously, expect more on this subject. I would love some feedback on this one. I want this to open a discussion.
I feel I have failed to talk about training humans and not have once mentioned cuffs, collars, or riding crops. Yep, there will be a lot more to say on this. In the words of Tigger, "Ta Ta For Now."