Monday, April 15, 2019

Change Your Life: First In A Series, A Public Service Brought To You By The Dept. Of Nance

About a hundred years ago I found an audaciously titled article online that I read immediately, despite the fact it was so obviously clickbait that I felt outraged and insulted. It was right up there with the headlines that used to scream out from that grocery store tabloid The Weekly World News, which used to print things on its front page like HOW TO TELL IF YOUR DOG WORSHIPS SATAN and BIGFOOT KEPT LUMBERJACK AS LOVE SLAVE.

Those are real headlines, by the way.

But I digress.

This article promised that within its contents were 10 Sentences That Could Change Your Life. I scanned it quickly and added it to my blogfodder folder (my life remaining unchanged; can you believe it?).

I'm a bit stuck for a post at present, so I'm going to pull these Sentences out, one at a time, one per post, and see if they are worthy of at least a bit of discussion, Life Changing notwithstanding.

Here is Number One:

People aren't against you; they are for themselves.

Firstly, is your life changed? Did this give you an Aha Moment? Nah, me either. I feel like this is a terribly worky way of saying Don't Take It Personally. I learned this Life Lesson a bit late, perhaps, during my teaching career and from the best possible of all teachers--teenagers.

Don't misunderstand me; I love teenagers as a group. They are a great deal of fun, very warm, intensely loyal to people they respect and care about, and when their fire is lit, it is remarkable to watch them take off on an idea. Having said all of that, they are also ruthless when they have an agenda, and if you are an impediment to that agenda, you are merely that--a roadblock. They will forget that you once sneaked them a Diet Coke from the staff room vending machine, helped them through a breakup, or did not bust them when they were late to an exam. Their hearts will turn to stone, they will lie to their principal, and they will swear up and down that they did/did not do whatever it was in order to help themselves. I can remember being wholly devastated the first time this occurred in my career. A wise assistant principal talked me off the ledge by saying, "Nance, don't take it personally. It's not about you. You could be anyone. It's all about what he wants and what's in his way, and you just happen to be standing in his way. This time." I'd like to say that I learned it right then and there, but I'd be lying.

It would be nice to think that, in this age of social media, people are never against other people, but we know that's just Not True. Bullying is real, and thanks to the ease of online accounts, it's easier than ever to victimize others and to even do it under assumed names. Hell, even the "president" does it, and with impunity. (Although he is the epitome of Being For Oneself.)

Perhaps there is room for some complexity to this Life-Changing statement: some people are against you because they are for themselves. It makes some people feel bigger, more important, and better about themselves when they act out against others. Again, 45* comes to mind--the perfect example. It doesn't make the victim feel any better, however, even though small-mindedness only captivates other small minds.

So, again, the Life-Changing Sentence was People aren't against you; they are for themselves.

Did this sentence, as the article promised, "give you the power to go on"...and "change your life for the better"? Let's talk about it in Comments.

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23 comments:

  1. It’s a very cynical sentence, isn’t it? But there is some truth in it. And no, it didn’t change my life. I did like your thoughtful post about the silly thing, though. Also, I used to LOVE seeing the Weekly World News at the grocery store. I so wanted to work there, it seemed like it would be fun to discuss Hillary’s alien baby. They were in Florida, I remember. Because of course they were.

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    1. J@jj--Florida: Home Of Nutso Journalism, Sinkholes, Hanging Chads, and Assorted Craziness. They really need to rehab their image.

      I suppose it IS a cynical sentence--quite black and white--now that you mention it, because if you had to place yourself in either camp, which would it be? Neither! I'm generally kind to everyone, and I honestly would not characterize myself as "for myself," or narcissistic or selfish. It's a pretty radically bare-bones way to group humanity, isn't it?

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  2. No, that sentence didn't change my life. I suppose if you're a paranoid person and actually believe that people are out to get you, then MAYBE it would would give you an Aha Moment. However, that headline---BIGFOOT KEPT LUMBERJACK AS LOVE SLAVE---made me laugh right out loud.

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    1. Jean--If you google Weekly World News Front Page as an image search, you'll see some more of those. They're all genuine and they're all breathtakingly crazy. And a surprising number of them are about bigfoot.

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  3. It does have a tad bit of wisdom in it for me. I do find I have to remind myself that what I'm worrying over (something someone said perhaps that didn't sit right with me) they have long forgotten about and I'm the one ruminating. I do think some of us worry way too much about what others thing of us. I have to remind myself that it is more than likely that some people may not enjoy being around me, and it is fine. I've been reading up on eeanagrams and Im pretty much a needy 2. So the statement has some wisdom for me.

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    1. kathy b--Oh, I agree that it makes a point, as I discussed in the post above. I have no quarrel with that. My issue is that it is touted as a Life-Changer.

      I can also be an OverWorrier/OverThinker about some things. It's tough to just let some things go and be In The Present, period.

      And hey--thanks for using the word Ruminating. Love that, and don't see it used nearly often enough!

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  4. Probably true in *most* instances, but not all. Sometimes someone just may have it out for you.

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    1. Dee--There's always someone who just plain doesn't like us. I don't doubt the kernel of wisdom in the saying, just the claim that it is Life-Changing.

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  5. This sentence actually reminded me of the different but tangentially related, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." Or, more plainly, "People aren't against you; they are just incompetent."

    Neither of these sentences has changed my life, but it is good to remember them when another person is being an asshole.

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    1. Mikey G--Ah, good one! And so true as well. Sometimes, people ARE just stupid. Or assholes. They aren't actually on a vendetta, they are just sadly idiots. Or, in many cases, oblivious, and you are unfortunate Collateral Damage to their incompetence.

      As you pointed out, no, the ideas are NOT life-changing, but merely perhaps helpful to anyone encountering jerks.

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  6. I think most people are wired to be for themselves, but are taught/try to curb it so as not to be terrible. Some people understand how that works. Others, not so much. The one in the White House, not at all, and even worse, he doesn't care.

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    1. Bridget--That's an interesting point: the survival instinct in humans is quite primal and so is the drive for love and affection. Socialization/civilization has introduced some curbs on those instincts, and it's interesting (and sometimes dramatic) when the two intersect.

      Your point about 45* is salient and well-taken. How did he ever reach adulthood, let alone 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? It's scary to know that there are so many others like him.

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  7. I do so enjoy your posts (Bigfoot!!!!) (and now I need to google Weekly World News Front Page - lol).

    Definitely not life-changing, just reaffirming of the way things are. I would add that some are idiots WITH a vendetta....

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    1. Vera--Oh, thank you so much! I must admit that this one turned out far better than I had anticipated.

      Still waiting for someone's life to change! Maybe the next Sentence will do the trick.

      And you make a good point about Idiots With A Vendetta. I feel like that covers most of the social media bullying among "adults". Sigh.

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  8. No, not life-changing. Partly because I finally worked that out after years of taking a lot of (often gratuitous) comments far too personally, and partly because I considered the source and decided their opinions/actions were likely motivated by something deep inside that had little or nothing to do with me. My take-away from your post was this: “Small-mindedness only captivates other small minds.” And while it doesn’t, as you say, make the victim feel any better, it does allow one to move on.

    Regarding the ruthlessness of teenagers (and young adults), one thing I have learned from my students is that I have to be watchful of being on the defensive myself. I have found over and over again, after meeting privately with students who had ‘issues’ (read: personal problems), that bad behavior is often just a defense mechanism. I have seen so many of them change their attitude radically just because I took the time to sympathize with whatever was going on in their lives. So my interpretation of “they are for themselves” is that they are “for themselves” in a battle for survival and haven’t worked out how to get past the “it’s all about me” stage and realize that we aren’t out to ‘get them.’

    As for 45… well, he never grew up. And his mass appeal is frightening because there are so many adults in this country who never grew up either.

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    1. Ortizzle--Good point re: teens and young adults. In addition to using bad behaviour as a defense mechanism, many use it as a way to Save Face in their culture. They have to show their toughness, their machismo, their badass-ness, if you will. I also learned early on to merely not react in class, but later meet with them privately and simply ask, "Wow. Tell me what I did deserve all that so I don't do it again" or "So what's going on that put you on edge today?" Of course, some students who caused physical violence in the classroom had to be dealt with much differently, but there's an exception to every situation.

      The mass appeal of 45* is truly that--he has given all these mental midgets the license to act like the stunted toddlers they are and not be embarrassed.

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    2. Funny you should mention 'physical violence in the classroom.' I am sure that what I have faced is nothing compared to your experience, but last spring I had a real ding-dong with a couple of African American students who were twins and spent the entire semester with their earphones plugged in during class, and one of them walked out several times during class to make phone calls, often talking loudly on his cell before leaving the class. The African American reference is important because the students in question were very 'entitled', disrespectful of their fellow students, and when everything erupted into a situation of 'I'm going to call the university cops' threat, one of the other black students in the class stuck up for them and said we had no idea of what it was like, etc., etc. (There were 2 other black students in the class, both very good students, but they were sadly absent that day.) Half a dozen white students fled the classroom or just left in disgust when I threatened to call the university cops. It was really nasty and involved the Behavioral Intervention Team in the end, since the abusive students also sent an email to the entire class about how they had been abused and ratted out unfairly by other students. In the end, I had to arrange for half a dozen students, who refused to come back to class, to take their final exams in a separate room! Bottom line: This shit happens, for sure. I should have been more strict with the black students earlier on when they turned in bullshit assignments, barely participated in class, copied (read: cheated!) on exams (I did not detect it, but other students reported this at end end of the semester) etc. The fear of backlash from being accused of being 'racist' and the fact that my school is campus-carry (students can legally carry concealed weapons) kind of put the brakes on everything. I did offer to meet with both of them early on when I knew they had used a translator for their written assignments, but they denied it adamantly and refused to meet with me. I could have turned them in to Student Conduct, but figured if I watched their test-taking during the final exam and gave them assigned seats (which I did), that their test grades would out them anyway. Which is exactly what happened. All of that said... it was a holy mess. And sadly, not one that could be solved by being sympathetic with their 'needs.' They had no dire personal problems. They were just lazy shits and entitled to the hilt. *sigh*

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    3. Ortizzle--What a mess. I'm sorry that happened. And who needs all that crap when all you're trying to do is Teach The Material? To Everyone? It's all so unnecessary. And tiring.

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    4. Nance: Indeed! The additional problems at the college level involve the fact that they believe they are entitled to 'run the show' since they pay tuition. Plus: "I am black and discriminated against." Plus... guns... which we all think will never happen, but it scares the crap out of me.

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  9. I learned this so very early in life. When my four-year-old peers were all screaming "NO FAIR," this skeptic already knew that life was not fair. If it were, then I would have golden ringlets and blue eyes and would have been born into unbelievable riches. I do believe that FB and selfies have magnified that people are for themselves. Twitter, FB, and blogs give some people (not you or me, of course) an elevated sense of importance.

    The proof of the statement can easily be found in the blinders worn by so many of our "leaders" in government. Let the Nation go to hell in a handbasket as long as I keep getting my big money for the campaign. So what if the POTUS is a big liar? Don't take it personally, folks.

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    1. NCmountainwoman--Sigh. So true, especially your reference to Politics. In that case, the politicians are not For you either. They are all wearing jerseys with their name and political party, and they could not care less about what their constituencies or country would benefit from.

      Compounding the sadnesses of that is how so many of 45*'s followers don't see or refuse to see how he has bamboozled and outright harmed them. All they know is he's not letting brown people or "terrorists" into the country and he "tells it like it is". Sigh.

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  10. Nance, always having food for thought with your posts. I have to say that this statement did not change my life as I feel in the world we live in people can be very much against you and they are indeed very much into themselves. Social media has made a whole new level of bullying possible, and of course our president has helped move that along very nicely. I also think social media has created so much narcissism with selfies and everything is me, me me. Maybe I am just old fashioned but I doubt that everyone want to see me all the time taking a photo of myself.

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    1. Meredith--I'm in agreement with you, and if that makes me Old Fashioned, too, so be it. You'll notice that I don't publish any pictures of myself here (or anywhere). I'm intensely private, along with being uncomfortable with being photographed, let alone seeing myself in any photos.

      As far as Bullying, yes yes yes--social media has escalated bullying to unforseen heights. I recently saw an interview with a television actress who was crying as she recounted the devastating effects that social media comments had on her. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook really level the playing field in that anyone with an internet connection has an instant gateway to celebrities, politicians, authors, athletes, etc. and can "speak" to them (or their families) as if they had their phone number! It's scary.

      I think if I were a person of some fame, I'd hire someone to manage my social media platforms--a sad necessity in this day and age--and then NEVER EVER LOOK AT THEM. EVER.

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Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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