Monday, June 7, 2010

Undesirable Qualities

I spent time recently with a person who got under my skin and really bugged me. I decided to invest a little time in thinking to determine why certain people drive me up the wall, when I like to think I can get along with most personality types. I think it's a common problem to experience friction with people who are similar to us, but I've isolated a few particularly undesirable qualities that make it very hard for me to be in the same room with a person, and I think these traits frustrate me so much because I've struggled with them in my own life.

Anyone who is not genuine, who fakes their way through social situations with a bravado that tends toward blowhardiness and exaggeration of their own sterling qualities, instantly sets my teeth on edge. Generally these people aren't kind to others around them, because they are so busy puffing up their own accomplishments, real or perceived, that there is no room for anything else. They tend to be patronizing, always have to have the last word, and everything they have ever done, said or thought trumps everyone else's, to the thousandth degree.

As I type this, my heart beats a little faster, and I'm in danger of my rage building to unhealthy levels on this fine Monday morning. I get down on my knees and thank God that I have come through the worst of these qualities in my own life, thanks to family and friends who have taken the time to point them out to me over the years. Marriage has also been good to refine my sharp edges and carve a nicer person out of me.

All bragging and self-exaggeration is born of insecurity. I know this as gospel fact because I was once a person with very low self-esteem, and I thought the way to build it up was to make myself sound so impressive that I could convince others of my awesomeness by the sheer volume of my promotional campaign. It doesn't work like that. It turns people away from you in droves, and rightly so. It is always better to let your life speak for itself, not your words telling people what your life is like, because generally the two don't match up, and this fact is obvious to others.

As I get older, I'm happy to realize that the world is filled with people, and I am simply one of them. My opinion is not right all of the time, and my voice is not the only one that people want to hear. I should not dominate every conversation as a way to prove how smart I am. I know many times I fail in this challenge. I am still a person who talks a lot, and I have come a long way in my convinction that the world is fascinated by me, but I know I still have a distance to travel to learn genuine humility and a respect for others.

It was helpful to identify these undesirable qualities by name, and realize that the handful of personalities I struggle to get along with share the same traits. But I am not perfect either, and must continue to improve my negative attitude toward the people I don't like. I would like to be kind and warm to all people, regardless of how I feel toward them, and I certainly have not come anywhere near that goal.

The first step is to recognize what bothers me so that I can understand why it frustrates me and slowly improve my reaction to it. Until I can see it for what it is, I will continue to react on an unconscious level to it, and now maybe I can find a little more compassion for people working through their insecurities without judging them so harshly.


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