Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Principle of Ownership, Part 2 - Forthrightness

A few months ago, I feverishly scribed a 2-paragraph statement which elaborated on something I called "The Principle of Ownership", then snapped a picture of it and posted it on this blog.

One year ago, I wrote an entry called "My One Resolution", which I believe was posted on my other blog, "Reality of Christ", and in which I described my felt need to be more forthright with people in various situations. I made it my lone "resolution" for 2012.

Well, various thoughts have been blossoming in my mind which are continuations of both of these principles.

1. One thing we must take ownership of, if we are to be honest men, is our conversation. What I mean is, we must take ownership of our own thoughts, feelings, and preferences, and state them as our own, rather than passive-aggressively making them out to be lifeless responses to what somebody else said. Do you want out of a crappy dating relationship? Consider saying, "I want out of this crappy dating relationship", rather than, "You obviously don't love me anymore," "You're a great friend", "I just don't think I can handle a relationship right now," or something else.

2. The whole process of being forthright is a lifelong endeavor. None of us is made of steel; all of us are growing in the process of fearing God rather than men. So we must grow in courage. But we also must grow in wisdom. The thrust of honesty is wonderfully simple, but there are complex situations that come up. Simply put, there are some things that don't need to be said right away, and some of our feelings need to be evaluated privately before we throw them in somebody's face. There have been times this year when I was offended by something somebody said and took it the wrong way. I had thoughts of speaking in a very plain and confrontational all-or-nothing manner. But the voice of sensibility inside my head told me that, as much as I could not understand why this person would say this, there was a good chance I was either taking it the wrong way, or taking it way too far. I cooled down, deferred my reaction, and was able to handle these situations in a much more constructive way. It's a good thing, because would I have been honest if I had spoken my mind? Yes, but not beneficial to anybody, in fact possibly devastating a person here, ending a friendship there. "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29, ESV

3. Being forthright doesn't heal all wounds. Even if I tell my friend Billy he was wrong to tell all my friends that I eat worms in the backyard and it makes me trust him less as a friend, I will still be hurt that Billy would do this, and that people were so quick to believe him. I will lay in bed at night, thinking, "Do I really act like a guy who would eat worms? Is it my beard? Am I too quiet? When I'm quiet, do people think I'm plotting my next worm feast? I genuinely hate worms. This is all not fair and I hate this world."

More personal:

4. My neurotic tendencies, fears, and hangups are my own burden and nobody else's.

5. As an INTP, my most difficult thing to deal with is when people have sudden and emotional reactions, because I find this dangerous and not helpful. I imagine they are just as alarmed by my heady approach to life. I don't even know how to *begin* in a situation like that. I am detached in almost all situations, and even feel detached when the other person carries on and ascribes to me certain emotions that I do not actually feel. I find that seeking to explain myself in such situations is not helpful, because it is seen as some kind of emotional response, when in fact it is not. What I generally do is, "slowly back away", because the harder I try to seek clarity with the person, the worse the situation gets. Perhaps what is needed is, "Jim, I'm actually not offended at what you said; I think you've misunderstood what I'm telling you. The giant banana was chasing me in that dream, and I killed it with an umbrella toothpick, and I was not telling this story as a parable for your failed business venture, but as a humorous anecdote." I guess that's the best thing to do.


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