Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: What goodness can I find in myself? How can I bring it to the surface?
I generally think of myself as “a good person.” I hold myself to high standards. I strive to treat others well (part of that sense of justice that’s so important to me). I try to get beyond bad behaviour in others to reinforce good behaviour. I publicly support those working on the side of kindness, courage, and justice. It’s part of my daily life. But where I fall down the most is on the petty stuff. I am prone to snits. My friends probably haven’t seen this a lot because it’s not a behaviour I trot out in public, but it happens when I feel I’ve been treated with a lack of basic respect. I’m pretty much incapable of sustaining one for more than about 24 hours, and usually they last somewhere between about 5 minutes to an hour unless they involve someone close to me. Even then, all I usually need to do is to remove myself from the situation–physically and/or verbally. I’ll go quiet until I can trust myself not to unleash the anger or snark.
The other challenge for me is what I do when I’m criticized. I’m pretty good at accepting and incorporating feedback when it’s meant to help me–even when delivered awkwardly. I’m good at giving people I trust the benefit of the doubt. What I have historically had more a problem with is the “frog in the boiling water” issue around being bullied or mistreated by untrustworthy people. I’ll think it’s me, try to “fix” the mistakes, and then wonder why all of a sudden my creativity has dropped off the cliff. Or, I won’t acknowledge to myself when something is bothering me and affecting my confidence. Or I won’t share with others feelings when I’m not having such a great time, since I’ve been conditioned over the years not to show that vulnerability. And then I’ll blame myself for not being “good.”
Evening: The odd thing about many of these is they’re actually examples of what I would term stereotypical Stoicism–again, the old “suck it up, buttercup” approach. Don’t show feelings. Don’t be vulnerable. Don’t cry. But there is nothing in the actual Stoic approach that encourages being an unfeeling robot. And when one of the best parts of me is the ability to show compassion and kindness, I by necessity have to have the ability to feel–I mean, it’s right in the word “compassion” (literal meaning: suffering with)–and the ability to express those feelings as well.
As a chance of pace, just a song tonight, heard, strangely enough, on the 9 pm blues show on CBC Radio 1:
And then it went into this one: