Saturday, August 3, 2013

Instruction manual, version 2

As you can see from all the griping in my recent posts, lately I have been upset about people who tell me what I should do and how I should feel.  I recalled that four years ago, someone said there should be an instruction manual for how to get along with me, so I wrote one in my blog.  I looked back at it today, and found that what I wrote then is pretty much the same thing I would say now. I find that reassuring, that there's some consistency in who I am, that what I have been feeling lately is not just some strange whim.

Looking back at the instruction manual though, I wanted to make some edits.  I did make some tweaks to my post from four years ago, but then I found that I wanted to make more substantial edits.  Therefore, I decided to leave the four year old post with just the few tweaks, and to re-write it now.

Now I am focusing on shortening it, and focusing especially on how I want to be treated.  The previous version had a chunk about what brings me joy.  That too is something to be focused on, and that too is something that has remained pretty consistent for years.  However, at this particular moment, I want to zero in on the parts about how I want to be treated and how I want to relate to others.

I do not expect that anyone will ever take this instruction manual in hand and try to abide by it.  I write it for me, because if I can clarify for myself what it is that I want, maybe it will help me to better manage my relationships with others.
  1. Don't tell me to cheer up, or that I should not be upset about something.  If something bothers me, respect the fact that it bothers me.
  2. Don't tell me what to do. Conveying some useful facts can be acceptable at times, but don't tell me that I'd be happier if I spent more time doing a particular thing. Your advice on how to reform myself is not what will help me blossom. Instead:
  3. You help me blossom just by listening to me and believing in me. When you point out my strengths, that helps those strengths to blossom.
  4. Value what I have to offer.  Let me help you.  Partner with me to help others.
  5. I know my flaws. When you accept me for who I am, you give me space to work on correcting them. When you criticize me, I flare up on the defensive, which does not leave me room to grow.
  6. I might not know all my flaws, or all the ways that I might hurt you, so if I do something that bothers you, just inform me that it bothers you and trust me that I'll try to fix it, rather than yelling at me for doing it.
  7. Any subtle hint that I did something wrong or that you don't like me I'm likely to pick up on even if it's subtle.
  8. Although I want you to be kind when criticizing and rejecting, in general, it is better to be direct and open, even if it is clumsy.  I don't like smooth and charming. I don't like when you beat around the bush.  
  9. Listen.  For me it's a waste of time to talk to people who are not interested in listening to me.  
  10. Be responsive to how other people feel. Back off when you bother someone.
  11. Although it's true that it's disrespectful to talk endlessly about topics that don't interest me, or to tell me things that will hurt me, on the other hand, keep in mind that I am flattered when you choose share your thoughts, feelings, and interests with me, even though they might not be the same things I would be interested in. I want to know who you are, even though that includes parts that are different from me.  When you choose not to share something with me, you are shutting me out of a part of you.
  12. At the same time, I do respect that there are some things that you don't want to talk about.  As I get to know you, I'll make note of the topics you don't like to talk about, and I'll stay away from them.
  13. If you want to know what I think about something, ask.
  14. If I don't agree with you, that does not mean that my understanding or intelligence is lacking.  
  15. If you tell me I should do something (read a certain book, engage in a certain activity) that may decrease my interest in doing it, because I want to make my own choices. However if you tell me that you like something, that may increase my interest in it.
  16. Don't talk about what morons other people are. It's okay to talk about how much they annoy you, because that's about your own feelings.
  17. The measure of a person is their compassion, respect, and integrity. I don't measure you by your lifestyle, habits, quirks, prestige, etc.
  18. Don't think that you are better than other people. Don't think you deserve a high salary because you worked so hard to get where you are.
  19. Live a life of conscience, and understand that I also live a life of conscience, even though our consciences may lead us down different paths. Strive to be the best person you can be, and support me as I strive to be the best person I can be.
  20. If I invite you to do something and you don't want to do it, just say no.  Don't clutch at straws in a desperate attempt to find an excuse.  When you clutch at straws, what I hear is that you're lying to me, and that you are desperately trying to evade me.  
  21. If you are done being friends with me, then go.  I deserve to be with people who cherish and respect me.  If you keep hanging around for fear I'll be devastated by your departure, stop being so full of yourself and just go.  It may be helpful to tell me in a tactful way that you are departing, so that I can adjust my expectations accordingly.

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