Search This Blog

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Throwing mud at the good only makes it muddy, not destroyed.

I don't know if it's a guy thing, it's a humility thing, a self-negating thing,  an escape thing or what.  But I was talking to a friend about a sentimental feeling--something like am a good dad or similar--and I found myself shifting gear in the conversation.  It was a guy friend and the subject matter was personal, so I to 'undignify' the conversation a bit by saying something goofy. It dawned on me that I was throwing mud at the conversation/subject matter in an attempt to minimize it.

In society, we will always have people that are egotistical and self-promoting (beyond what their job requires), but there will always be a segment of society which strikes a pose that could be seen as humble.  We see in everyday life, heroes dismissing their bravery, grown-ups dismissing their positive impact on kids, friends dismissing the nice things they do for others, people soft-pedaling their birthday, men not showing or owning their soft side, etc.  I will take a moment to focus on the why of it, but I did want to address what it means to throw mud at the 'good' and how it doesn't change it.

So, why do we try to dismiss, minimize or negate the good we do or feel?   I've got a few thoughts on it.
  • We have been taught not to 'brag' about our goodness.  Our parents, ministers, coaches, etc. have imparted in us that our nature should be evident and that to self-promote is unseemly and not proper.
  • We don't like the attention of being 'praised'. 
    • Some people are just humble.  
    • Some people just are uncomfortable with the positive spotlight and would rather live in the shadows trying to do the right things.
  • We can be self-negating and recognizing our goodness gets in the way.
    • This can look like modesty (humility), but it really is not allowing ourselves to be framed positively.
    • This can reflect a general low sense of self-worth.  If you don't necessarily feel good about yourself, there is no space for recognizing or allowing others to recognize your inherent goodness.
  • We can feel vulnerable.
    • We don't want to acknowledge ourselves too much.  I've said to others, "You're a good person, but I won't let anyone know."  The less others know about us, including the good, the less we are known, and therefore potentially vulnerable.
    • If we accept others noting our good side, potentially we are implying permission for them to note our flaws as well.

So, how do we throw mud on the good?
  • Minimized the good we have done.
    • We say things like anyone in my situation would have done the same.
      • If I hadn't jumped to help, someone else would have.
    • We say deflect credit for good deeds to others.
      • I'm just trying to help, but so and so deserves the real credit.
    • We minimize the kindness we've shown. 
      • I was just paying for the kindness shown to me.
    • We deflect from showing positive sentiment. 
      • Sometimes I'm an okay person.
  • Maximize our flaws.
    • I've made mistakes and I'm just trying to do good these days to make up for it.
    • I've been insensitive to others and I'm just trying to correct that.
    • I've lived a rough life and I'm just trying these days to do the right thing.

I've said before I think there are few completely selfish people and even fewer truly evil people in the world.  I think most people have a good side and a bad side.  Most people have the mind to do good things or bad things given the right or wrong stimulus.  Obviously, some are more inclined to do good than others, but still.   No matter what negative in our lives, it doesn't negate the positives.  We can throw all the mud we want on the good about us, but it doesn't negate it.  It can deflect others from seeing it or openly acknowledging the good, it can help us dismiss the good, but at the end of the day our good still remains.  Just as with our flaws, properly recognizing the good is important to mental and spiritual health.

Just some observations.