DAMN, but if there aren’t a ton of jerks out there. Seriously. Coworkers (or bosses), People you live near (neighbors, amiright?), in-laws, and family…
And you. Yes. YOU are sometimes the asshole.
Same with me. I *promise*. I have often, according to some people in my life on a daily basis, I am, in fact and deed, an asshole. In fact some of my best and closest friends have frequently pointed out when, why, and exactly where I was an asshole.
So, how to deal with assholes in life when the sad fact is that you frequently are one.
Conscientiously, of course (thanks, Jesse Rucilez). And with ownership.
I like the part of the definition of ‘conscientious’ that mentions acting upon one’s principles. To quote Obi Wan (who had to *already* be sick of Luke’s whinging) “you must do what you feel is right, of course.” The fact that you think someone has behaved in an assholish manner implies that they have violated your principles. “Decent people just don’t do that,” you think. “Not-assholes would *never* say something like that to me,” that awesome voice in your head says. But the tough bit is where YOU have to respond according to your principles, which hopefully do not dictate reacting to petty thoughtlessness by being a total cock-knuckle.
Because the tough part is this…they are only assholes because you let them be. I know, that statement *could* contain a lot of woo-woo, but seriously, it does not. Case in point:
I have a friend. Close friends for years. I did something that made him so angry that he refused to talk to me for months, at least not without a condescending tone making it very clear how much of an effort he was putting into remaining friends. We finally had a ‘all cards on the table’ talk. He let me know in very clear language just how I had mad his life harder, how upset he was with me for putting him in that position. Turns out I violated a major expectation of his, which then led him to be upset with me. And guess what…
What I did had nothing to do with him. At all. He was a spectator. So I responded by basically saying “that is your deal, bud. Whatever. Don’t put that crap on me!”
But how I reacted WAS my fault. Not in a self-flagellation sort of way, but in purely action/reaction sort of way. I did not react to his truth concienciously, or with any ownership. He didn’t wake up in the morning and say “Today? Today, I shall be an asshole.” Neither did I. And that is the whole point.
You (and by you I mean I) have to take ownership. I interpreted his reaction as the actions of an asshole precisely because I was unwilling to a) take two seconds to act conscientiously and do what I *know* is right- try to see the situation from the other person’s point of view, and b) I didn’t want to take ownership. Because that would mean owning up to the fact that actions I take actually effect other people, even those who are watching from the bleachers. Do I need to judge every action I take through that lens? No way, that way craziness waits. I can imagine second and triple guessing every action because of who it might have an affect on. Forget that, life is way too short.
But…I do think that when someone says ‘heh, when you did or said that thing, it had this impact on my life’ it is not fair to write it off as the other person’s problem and refuse to own it. What might have happened if I had owned it in that moment? I might have apologized. No harm there. Doesn’t mean I have to wail and gnash my teeth and make a big deal of it. But a ‘dude, sorry that happened. That sucks, and since it was because of something I did sucks even more.’ Okay, suddenly the possibility of the relationship growing and improving exists.
Where it doesn’t exist otherwise.