This one resonated with me, and so I wanted to share.
If you participate in various social media platforms, you will inevitably come across a post that says “That’s it – I don’t need anyone! I’m alone, and I’ll show them!” … to which others often reply with some variation of “Good for you!” But it’s not. It’s not good.
We live in community with others, and I see such posts as a cry for help, a declaration of isolation, of loneliness. As the photo above suggests, when people engage in “attention-seeking behaviors,” it’s likely that they’re actually seeking relationship (or else why would they do it? Something to ponder). Under such circumstances, the person who answers the bid for attention, responds to the cry for relationship, might not be the most wholesome person to bond with.
So what does this mean? Are we supposed to befriend every lonely person who crosses our path? Are we required to break down their walls? Of course not. It’s not practical, or necessary, or good for our own emotional well-being. But thinking about these things can help us to reflect more deeply on others’ behaviors, and on our own.
When someone “acts up” (behaves like a jerk), what if we stopped for half a second and considered that maybe he’s feeling disconnected from others? And maybe his jerky behavior is the outward manifestation of this feeling of disconnection? Would we become slightly more compassionate, perhaps? And then there’s the need to reflect on our own behavior. Do I push people away, when I’m really longing for connection? And isn’t that a counter-productive thing to do?
It all comes back to this: We live in community with others, and often, it’s hard. We bump up against each other. We want different things. We don’t like being vulnerable, or admitting that we feel isolated even in a crowd, because it seems like nobody understands. But instead of lashing out, we can count to ten and examine why we’re acting this way, and whether this behavior will really help us reach our goals.
Today, let’s be compassionate with ourselves and others. This “being human” thing isn’t easy, but we can be kind to each other, one day at a time.