You’re Not the Boss of Me!

I get that we tend to navigate toward people who are have similar likes, or dislikes, and become friends. But when we are friends already, and we see our friend doing something different than what we would do, why do we feel the need to correct or change them, if you will? What makes us want others to be exactly like us?

And I am here to tell you, I am just as guilty of this behavior as the next person. I don’t know why I do it. And I really don’t LIKE that I do it. I certainly don’t like it being done to me. So why do I continue the behavior? I’d like to find out. Follow my thoughts and tell me what you think.

I am sure the reasons vary for different situations.

For example, Person A is passionate about making their own clothes. Maybe, because they get an abundance of joy from participating in the activity. They spend an exuberant amount of time focusing on making their own clothes, to the point that others find them odd. But the joy Person A finds in making their own clothes, the happiness it brings them, outweighs any negative experiences they might encounter with those around them, and they continue to make their own clothes. There’s nothing wrong with that. They aren’t hurting anyone in this situation.

Let’s take it a step further. Person A experiences so much joy, they realize they want EVERYONE to experience that joy and they start telling others they should make their own clothes too. They share why it’s so great. They show how easy it is. And maybe Person B tries it, and maybe they aren’t the best at it, but they are happy with their individual efforts in making their own clothes and do enjoy it a little, not enough to go overboard like Person A, but enough to get some satisfaction with their efforts. There isn’t any harm in that either, right?

Let’s push our luck and take this a step even further. Person A happens to run into Person B, and observes Person B making their own clothes too. This is where things can go a few ways.

Person A can be thankful they have made some sort of impact on Person B in a positive way and say something like, “Hey, you’re doing a great job there!”. Person B could maybe say, “Hey thanks! You inspired me to give this a try and I kinda like it.” and feel happy and continue to make their own clothes on occasion.

OR

Person A could see that Person B isn’t as good at it as they are, and they could start criticizing Person B’s efforts. Now, most likely Person B is going to either try harder or get discouraged, right? If they decide to try harder, they might start asking Person A for advice and practice a little more. But if Person A continues to complain about Person B’s efforts, most likely Person B is just going to end up getting discouraged and quit doing it all together. Person B will probably become a little resentful of Person A as well. There’s a really good chance, Person B will start becoming one of those people that makes fun of Person A. This is where there becomes a problem. Person A, trying to force their passion upon Person B, just because they showed a little bit of interest. What make us do that? Is it ego? Selfishness?

Another example is around our political beliefs. Beliefs are funny. We form them based on our experiences. Maybe we do that with our passions too, now that I think about it. Anyway, when we have an opinion on someone in politics or something being voted on, we think we need to convince EVERYONE around us that they need to think the same way we do. We feel compelled to debate with everyone to show them “you know better than they do”. People even stop being friends with those who view politics in a different way or vote differently than they do. This is one reason I don’t “do” politics. None of us are right and yet we continually try to convince those around us we are. I get caught up in it to a point too. I try to convince… well, let’s just leave it at I own this behavior too and I don’t like that I have this behavior either.

So why do we do these things? Why do I do these things? And how can I change?

If we think about “the days of old” when we were hunters and gathers, our survival probably depended on us agreeing with each other on a common goal. It was probably best if we were all focusing on trying to gain food, shelter, water, or even safety. HOW we were going about trying to obtain those things, for efficiency sake, was probably very important. Different “family” circles, or tribes, were probably created based on who was agreeing with who. Democrat, Republican, Independent, Liberal, and so on and so forth.

Maybe part of it comes from wanting validation from our circle. That would make sense. We all, in one way or another, like to be accepted. It makes us feel good about ourselves. It does me, anyway. That probably plays into ego.

So, does that need for acceptance come from our own insecurities? I think mine might. I’m sitting here thinking about it. It just might. I need to dig deeper in that and work on myself there.

And I’m thinking it’s super selfish wanting everyone to be just like me. Why can’t I be just like them instead? If I conform to their way of doing something, exactly they way they are doing it, with the same system and passion, like Person A, does that make me any less of a human being? No, it really doesn’t.

Why do we have to be alike at all?

Something I always say is it’s nice that people are so different. Our diverse backgrounds and cultural traditions are what makes us interesting. But maybe it’s only ok for people to be different than us if they aren’t in our space regularly, like a spouse, boy/girlfriend, or roommate.

Somewhere along the way, we are told not to be a doormat and to stand up for ourselves. This implies it is better for us to do things differently than those around us. So, will conforming to their way really make us a doormat? What if their way really is better? What if their way is the best way for the good of the whole, for the tribe? Or what if we respect each other enough to accept our differences.

So, let’s think about this a minute. Let’s start with when we are confronted with someone trying to change us, what if we stop and consider the bigger picture? What if we consider that they may actually have a better way of doing things? And we could grow as a person if we did change our behavior based on their suggestion? Or what if we just listen to their way of doing things, validate what they have said, acknowledge their way and continue to do things they way you always have done them.

So now here is something else that comes to mind.

I am super capable of taking suggestions from certain people! Others not so much. How interesting for me to realize that! AND that is something I have been working on for a few years with certain people. Mostly because I have come to realize that these people usually DO have a better way to doing something. There’s a layer of trust with their information. So, what moves a person from the untrust pile to the trust pile? If our “friends” are in the untrust pile, are they really our friends? Oh man that just opened up a whole other can of worms to consider for another post.

For myself, if I have time to process the change request, I do better. I don’t feel confronted or attacked. And I typically will see the good in the change and make the change. That’s my personality.

So, we have to choose to WANT to work on our self AND we have to WANT to learn from the other person.

Man, I’ve got a lot to work on now. But I can do this.

What are your views on this? Tell me! I want to know. And I promise I won’t tell you you are wrong!! I just want to listen and learn more perspectives.

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