13 Reasons Why...We're Unconsciously Unkind
Public Service Announcement: It is safe to read this post, as there are no spoilers, so your viewing pleasure will not be diminished when you do watch the Series.
This weekend I binge watched the Netflix series, 13 reasons why. I really enjoyed it, even though it was emotionally wrenching, as it went into detail on the tough issues of bullying, rape and suicide. It was difficult to watch because it's raw and real, a reminder that this is the reality for so many persons..kids, teenagers, and adults. The series is about Hannah Baker, a seventeen year old teenager who commits suicide. Before her death she records thirteen tapes which explains what led her to her ultimate decision of suicide. Each tape lets the listener/viewer in on a situation which was pivotal to her end decision.
This was an extremely thought provoking series. To me, it was a reminder that there will always be three sides to a story, each person's truth, and the actual truth. The tapes explained Hannah's truth, and shows that she, along with the persons on the tapes were flawed individuals. I was more than once maddened at the decisions she made which led her to worse consequences. It was akin to watching a horror movie and you're screaming at the person to not go in the room because you know they'll just get killed, but they do it anyway. In much the same way, as the viewer, at times I would be screaming don't do it Hannah, but she did anyway. I think the writers made the right decision because it was for the best that she was portrayed that way, as an imperfect being. This in no way belittles what happened to her, as I don't think anyone can go through those things and remain happy or even completely sane, but some people are stronger than others and have a better support system than others that enables them to deal better. Hannah was wronged regularly and atrociously by many persons she trusted and this was terrible. Some people are simply better able to vocalise what they need, and get the necessary help. Every person and situation is unique, and as well as we may think we know ourselves, we can never truly tell how we will actually react when faced with those situations because it's not anything you can ever prepare yourself for before it happens. The main point to remember is that while one unkind action on your part to another person may not be earth shattering in isolation, when it's combined with other such or worse actions, it may be too much for a person to bear. The thing is we'll never truly know what another person is going through, so we need to make an extra effort to be kinder. It's important to resist the judgment and just try to be kind, and if that's not possible, then don't be unkind.
So in this blog post, I decided to go through some of the reasons that we as generally nice persons who do not mean any real harm to others may end up unconsciously being cruel:
1) We're self-centred. We each have our own lives to live, and only the components in this life truly matter to us. We are only affected by things that directly affect us, whether positively or negatively. Yes, we may look at the news or other persons' plights and feel sadness for a period of time, but then we go back to worrying about our own lives, and our own interests. Our little world will always be the centre of our existence, as is the case for the majority of the population.
2) We're insecure. It takes a lot of confidence to not just take ownership of one's own life, but to also become somewhat responsible for someone else by taking on their burdens and problems.
3) We're lonely. Sometimes people get so used to themselves being alone that when others try to reach out, instead of being receptive, they lash out, or give a cold reception. This is often an automatic defense mechanism which they've adopted to shield themselves from letting people in and getting let down.
4) We're frustrated - We all have bad, just bloody awful days where everything just goes wrong, and we can't deal with even one more thing without losing our sh*t, so we avoid interactions, or are curt with them. We don't mean to be, and to us, acting this way is probably the nicest we can manage, but the person on the receiving end doesn't know what's going on and just takes the curt response as a negative reaction to them personally.
5) We're hurting. Sometimes we're waiting on someone to save us, to offer us a lifeline, so we don't have a lifeline to give. At least that's how it feels to us anyway.
6) We're protecting ourselves. If you're genuinely listening to another person's problem, and caring about it, it's impossible to not let it affect you. You absorb some of that negativity, unhappiness and despair, and depending on your level of emotionality, sometimes it's too much. Personally, I care. I care ALOT. I can't help it and I sometimes distance myself because I know in that moment, I'm not in a place where I can physically and mentally absorb any of the world's misery. This might sound harsh, but if I do let it in, it affects me to the point where I can get sad and depressed, and me distancing myself is me saving myself and the world from a cycle of misery. Is this right? I don't know. Is it kind? It's the kindest thing I can do for myself at that point in time, and when I'm in a better frame of mind, I will reach out to assist.
7) We're jealous. We may hate to admit it but there are or have been persons we were jealous of in this life. It may not have been the person so much, as the opportunities and things they had, or more realistically what we perceived them to have that we were lacking. This might be wealth - monetary, family, friends, relationship, job, and so on. This jealousy may have caused us to be mean to these persons, when they did nothing other than be themselves, be someone we may have even wished we could be. I hope that this is one we grow out of, and I think it is. I am personally at a point where jealousy is no longer an emotion in my life because I'm happy with my life, and I use the persons who have things I desire - a successful career, relationship, etc as inspiration. I know now that I definitely would not want anyone else's life, but that's now, and may not have always been the case.
8) We're busy. Everyone has 24 hours in a day, but it doesn't seem enough for today's hectic schedules. We are juggling work, family, school, relationships, family, hobbies, social commitments, and any number of other things, and this just doesn't allow (in our opinions anyway) for anything else to be added to our plates.
9) We're pessimistic. We often tend to go into situations expecting a negative outcome. So, our mindset prevents anything but this negative expectation from occurring. At other times our expectations are just too much, or too specific, and might just be unrealistic. If we were to just take a step back, breathe, be grateful in the moment, and be grateful for whatever happens next, as opposed to just waiting to criticize the parts that are lacking in your mind, life would be overall happier.
10) We're confused. Have you ever known something was wrong with someone but your best efforts to find out the cause because you genuinely wanted to help proved futile? No matter how many ways you asked, you just couldn't figure out the problem? This leads to frustration on both sides. I think in moments like that, as hard as it is, maybe we just need to use a non-verbal form of caring. This may be a hug, a note, a silly present, or funny internet link that will make the person smile. I think if you're really committed to helping someone, the most important thing to do even when you don't understand is to be present, and show that they matter.
11) We're misunderstood. Even though the actions may not be meant in a hurtful manner, they are interpreted as such. Don't be afraid to apologise, and seek to clarify the situation in a non-confrontational manner. This one thing can change everything. If we all ate a bit more humble pie, and give our ego less control, this would be so much easier.
12) We overreact. Often times we have an overactive defense mechanism. No one likes feeling attacked. Hell, no one even likes being made to feel bad, and as soon as we feel like we're getting this treatment from someone, our war bells go off, and we go into defense mode. Often times, it's an overreaction, and definitely something that can be worked on for personal growth. It's never a good idea in the moment, or in hindsight.
13) We're human. This means that we're all inherently flawed. We have emotions. We have issues. We will not always say and do the right thing. But, when we do let our emotions get the best of us, we can always try our best to remedy the situation. We can always strive to be better. I never strive for perfection. That's the definition of setting yourself up for failure, but striving to consistently be a decent and better human being...that's a goal I'm committed to achieving.
We are one, some, or all of the above and that doesn't make us bad people. We just need to be more aware of how we treat others, and in turn be more aware that how others treat us is mostly because of what is going on in their own lives, and has nothing to do with us. We need to accept responsibility for ourselves, and find ways to be happy without expectations, and things. This is a continuous life process in my opinion, with lots of stumbles and crashes, but you just have to keep at it. A lot of conflicts and misery come down due to poor communication. People misinterpret others so often, and then create mountains out of these misinterpretations, which become insurmountable when the parties do try to reconcile these differences. My wish is for me and all of us to be more open-minded, less selfish, and just more caring to everyone and everything in our personal world, and for us to continuously expand this space so that our positive reach is felt further and wider.
Sending so much love and light your way my darlings!