Opinion: Don't Let that Change You II

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When I wrote the original Don't Let that Change You, I didn't mean to write a sequel. But a wonderful comment made me realize that I might have failed in expressing my point. This is a new behavior that I have been working on and it is still a bit hard to explain it. I am only sharing it here because I am finding it significant to my self growth. So here goes a second attempt.

At a certain stage in our lives I think it safe to say we come to know ourselves a little bit better. We are then somewhat confident in saying "I like these things" or "I dislike those things." And we may describe ourselves as, "I am always on time." or perhaps "ah time?! What animal is that?!" We may say we like people "who like the things we like" and "can't stand people who behave in certain ways." Hence we have a better sense of where we stand as individuals.

Knowing this, we step out into places and we meet new people and they come to us with their own set of habits and ideas of what is cool and what's not. We start talking and we realize that we like certain things about these people.  So we start to spend time with them and come to see that they  have some ways about them that we don't think cool.  Say we decide that despite these flaws of theirs, we still like them enough to stick it out with them: at least for the meantime.  This is where my theory of change comes in.  I think it's important that we pay attention and do not start adopting the unappealing habits of our friends.  Being careful not to adopt the bad is what I mean by not letting 'that' change you.  I say 'that' and not 'them' because I like to differentiate habits and people. Think of habits as a coat of paint and the people as a wall. With some effort one can repaint a wall.

In the original post, I tried to use tardiness as an example, and I shall continue to do so here.  Hence our friend's issue is a disregard for time.  It is important that we do not start adopting that attitude ourselves, by reasoning that "well, so-and-so never shows up on time, so I won't either." This way of thinking and acting is normal and happens almost unconsciously.  In time, that way of thinking starts painting a new shade over our self discipline, making us into that something we didn't like in  the other and didn't practice ourselves.

The obvious question here is, of course, why be friends with someone who disrespects something we hold valuable?  Well, there are different measures of importance to the things we value.  Sometimes we meet someone who has something of a higher value to us,  and for that matter, we stick around until we fulfill that desire.  Of course, this only happens when the value of that something that they possess is superior to our dislike of their bad habits.

Spending time with a new friend has led me to this reasoning, as I kept questioning why I remain acquainted with them. Opening myself to the opportunity of seeing things through the eyes of someone who has had different experiences, and possesses a point of view that might be dissimilar to mine; but whom I find intriguing and believe I can learn from.  As no two persons are the same, I think it an excellent exercise to learn to see the world as others see it, to learn to accept people as they are while still remaining true to whatever selves that we are at those moments. In the long run, I believe this strengthen how we deal with others. It is however, essential that we learn to pick up the good and stay vigilant in resisting the bad so we do not go backward, in character, rather than forward.


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