Image courtesy of digitalart at freedigitalphotos.net/Even the worst person can show an act of kindness. Even the best have had a moment of impurity
As I become older, a lesson that I have been learning is that it is important to maintain a healthy balance between “seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses” and being so cynical that you believe that everyone is out to use you, or has no capacity for real love.
Many people are sceptical of this, and it is merely my opinion – but I think each of us has the potential to be. I don’t believe that anyone is “fully bad” or “fully good” – no-one is without some act of caring, even though they may have slaughtered millions. No-one is so pure that they have never had a motivation that might be considered not as selfless as it appears. Underneath altruism, there may be an ever so slight need for recognition for example. In other words, I believe that in humanity, there are only shades of grey as far as “good” and “bad” go. (I don’t believe people are “good” or “bad” in themselves – only demonstrations of behaviour are of course).
Different circumstances bring out which shades of grey that are exposed. For example, if you are unwell, you may be crankier than normal.
A repercussion of allowing people to use you, or being too humble, too giving and not sceptical enough is that people’s nature is often thinking they can behave badly and that they “will get away with it” in the sense that you won’t be deeply affected.
Deeply caring people who are ethical find it difficult to believe others can take advantage the way they do. We tend to see in others personalities we have ourselves. If we wouldn’t behave a certain way, other people are like mirrors to us in the way that we think “why should they?”
Sometimes people who are caring and loving are used, unfortunately. After a while, they may become hardened. They may become angry and without realising it, feel that the world owes them something. These very people may become “users” themselves, feeling it’s the only way they can survive.
Conversely, there are people who are initially perhaps naturally more cynical. They can’t see for a number of reasons why a person would want to do something because they cared, without an expectation of receiving anything back. They believe people are naturally untrustworthy, don’t tell the truth and have unethical motivations.
Thus, even when true love and care is present, they can’t see it. They literally can’t let it in. I guess a positive side of this is that these people rarely get used. They quickly see the potential for what is often a natural part of human behaviour, the need for survival. They do not feel safe and cease to participate.
Over time, because they have learned to protect themselves, and not get hurt, perhaps they are open to love a little later in life when they have learned to trust.
So, where does this ability to finally trust come from? It may never come. However, consistent demonstrations of reliable, truthful, caring behaviour without any need to get anything back may convince the person that love is possible.
If one is too naďve, too trusting, it is human nature, more for some than for others to take advantage. These people often stand out as targets, and therefore this occurs. However, not wanting to abandon their need to see the good in others, this unfortunate situation may occur time and time again. Hopefully they finally learn that not everyone is to be trusted. The saddest part about being too trusting is that one may keep on giving and giving. Resentment may build up. They may not learn to receive, learn to believe they deserve better. They are used as a tool. Or, they may get so hurt that they shut people out completely one day, not realising that it is more complex than people are completely altruistic or completely selfish.
The saddest outcome of cynicism is probably the beauty these people miss out one. When told of a beautiful altruistic act, they see something negative about it automatically. There’s always a catch. They miss out on the beauty in people. They can’t learn they are truly loveable, because they don’t think that someone would love them without wanting something from them.
I don’t know the statistics, but I am guessing we are often somewhere in between both in terms of being trusting and being cynical. We may swing from one extreme to the other in response to situations. Perhaps we need to look for the good, but watch our boundaries. Try to see the best, however, be cautious. If something looks awry or suspicious, don’t fully immerse yourself in a relationship.
We are complex creatures. Try to see the best in people, but life is not like a fictional “Polyanna”. With commercialism and unemployment, and ultimately the ever-present survival instinct, we need to watch that we don’t believe things that will cause us to behave in ways that will hurt us. Look for the good, but get to know people slowly. Realise we are also both good and bad. Don’t judge one act and label a person as one or the other. There are only shades of grey.
However, if we look there really is beauty surrounding us – the sun, nature, sea air, a baby’s smile, pet’s. Also, one random act of kindness that occurs in a day may make your week – if you are open to this feeling.