Others and I

18 June 2013 at 04:30 | 2468 views

By Agustํn P้rez

Human relationships are always complex, hence the interest in cultivating a sixth sense to tune in to people around us, to get to know them, to learn what they are like and what their dreams and hopes are. All this as far as possible and within the framework in which the relationship occurs. Certainly, the relationship with one’s wife, her hopes and desires, will not be the same as the relationship with one’s colleagues at work.

We need affection and respect from those who are close—family, friends or colleagues. However, it so happens that whatever is received, is received the recipient’s way. Therefore, it may well be the case that the sender and the receiver are not on the same wavelength, or that the message is not appropriately judged. Our state of mind at a given moment, an extremely awakened sensitivity, can make us judge negative what was a positive gesture by the other person. Let alone the fact that people who approach us may not always perceive our state of mind, as this belongs to our privacy.

We are judged by our actions, not by our intentions. Surely enough, we do not think too deeply about our actions when they affect other people. Our gestures toward others are rarely neutral. They may be scarcely relevant, or routine, but those around us are never indifferent to them. It is true that each and every action will not be separately assessed, except in unusual circumstances, but consistency with what we expect to get is a must. A common gesture, repeated a thousand times, could be misunderstood if by the time I receive it I happen to have been waiting for a different thing, or I feel I have been sidelined, or that an inappropriate tone of voice has been used—it is just a question of harmony among context, the others, and oneself.

This complexity should prevent us from valuing harshly our relationships with those around us—that is, being able to excuse others. Many things are done routinely, mechanically, without awareness of the impact of our actions. When we are happy, nothing matters, we are more generous in our behavior toward others—but we are not always in such an ideal state of mind. The incidents of the day can break our emotional balance and leave us flustered by a false perception of events, with our sensitivity like an open wound, so our self is likely to revolt in anger against others.

Professional practice, where different ways of doing jobs sometimes create confrontations, where efficiency can turn us into stubborn pursuers of a personal idea, can result in selfish attitudes, ignoring the personal circumstances of the people around us, thus generating icy atmospheres, with a breakdown in communication.

As a counterbalance, it might happen at times that an originally despicable gesture, even in the middle of anger, can lead to positive consequences for our self—it helps us understand ourselves better, showing that we may have been overestimating ourselves, or suggesting a personal weakness we had not noticed before. Not everything that initially seems bad is really so. A negative gesture can be a touchstone to change for the better, to make us get rid of some ballast.

The complexity of personal relationships is better seen in the distance and with peace of mind. A few words in time, a few roses in the case of one’s wife, will pave ways that pride does not know, or easily forgets, how to go through. What should never be missing is respect, affection, and mutual understanding in human relationships.