Positivity and Opposition
While having dinner at a restaurant with my dad, my kids, and one kidlet's girlfriend, I gave the waitress a compliment. I told her that I thought her glasses looked nice on her. I said it because I liked her glasses, and I thought it would be thoughtful to share it with her. I also did it because I know the value to both parties when one makes an effort to connect, especially when providing a positive springboard.
In this instance, the waitress lit up with pride and appreciation. She paused and looked directly at me and said thank you. She then went on to tell me how she came to choose these specific glasses. She even shared that she had just had her hair highlighted, as well. She oozed appreciation for the compliment and said she had been on shift for 12 hours, and it was the first compliment she received all day. This one small effort on my part had such an impact that she even thanked me again just before we left — with purposeful eye contact.
What an amazing gift to offer both of us! One honest, shared observation elevated this young lady's confidence and energy. I can't help but wondering if the deeper impact was allowing her permission to acknowledge how she felt about herself? And if it gave her a deep sense that SHE was noticed that day — that SHE matters.
An interesting thing happened just after she left the table beaming with confidence — my kids all began chiding me for being a "suck up." It didn't trouble me, I know they learned something valuable through observing the interaction. What interests me is where this mocking originates?
To scoff at the interaction indicates some discomfort. Part one of that discomfort, I suspect, is in a desire to have been the one to cause such enthusiasm. But I think that's just scratching the surface. I believe everyone at the table understood the positive benefit I received in initiating the encounter. I am curious if their reaction was a desire to feel what I was feeling — a profound sense of satisfaction and purpose.
All this goes without detection on the part of the person doing the scoffing, of course.
Their deriding gave rise to exploring other recent similar situations. Those where a strong negative reaction occurs in response to something that doesn't seem particularly threatening or offensive — such as my choice of clothing color and pointing out that life is imperfect. In these cases, I wonder if these people desire things they are unable to embrace and in turn judge or discount its validity.
For instance, the person that didn't like my red, pink and purple clothing combination is someone trapped by needing admiration and appreciation. Perhaps she's unable to embrace individuality because she fears it will taint her image? In the case of the perfectionist, I purport that she would love to embrace imperfection but it's such a scary and unimaginable prospect that she defends the tangibility of perfection instead.
I don't believe these illustrations of opposition represent envy though they do impersonate it. I believe it is about a longing to unbind ourselves from an image we hope will keep us safe in the world. Rather than envy, it is the admiration of the assuredness displayed by others without a worry of judgment, comparison or the collapse of self.
If, before our moments of ridicule, we stop to consider its source and our intent, maybe we'll uncover our authentic selves? From this, perhaps we can reveal our authentic selves to the world as well.
Learner and sharer of all things healthy, active, esteem building, growth promoting, witty and Hawaiian