I don’t think it’s just me. We all do it but we turn it off. There are reasons why people shut it down or ignore it. They don’t trust the power or they hope their feelings aren’t true because there’s much to lose if they are – things like more wealth, prestige or sex. There are times when we want to trust people because they can help us and we hope it will all work out if those subtle signals go away. So we rationalize the contradictions against our instincts.
Maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe I’m just paranoid. Maybe I’m being too critical. Maybe I’m having a bad day, or they are.
Maybe, maybe, maybe…
Or maybe our thoughts about that new guy are totally true. Maybe we’ve already figured her out and it’s a good idea to add her to our NO-GO list. Maybe we should listen to our Natural Knowing and accept that Feelings Don’t Lie.
Maybe if we tuned into the “vibes” more often and steered clear of bad people life would be easier. Maybe more betrothals, bands and business contracts wouldn’t break up so often if we listened to our hearts. Maybe we’d trust others more often if we only joined up with nonthreatening people.
But like I said, many times, most times in fact, we’re not tuning into all those teeny-tiny little hints we’re picking up because…
- She’s so hot.
- He’s really important and such a great catch.
- I need that job.
- She’s close to my sister, my brother, my best buddy so it’s ME that’s not getting along…and I want more friends.
- We’ve already mailed the wedding invitations. It’s too late to stop.
A few reasons why we ignore the red flags. We figure there’s lots to gain if we can just get past the downside. Okay, nobody’s perfect but why do we have to embrace critical downsides of anyone? This idea, that we should deal with things that bother us comes from the belief that there won’t be another opportunity as good as this one, even with its issues. So we accept the start-up problems only to find out later that the DOWNSIDE wiped out most of the potential GOOD SIDE. Now we’re in so deep it’s hard to break away and there’s a lot more to lose.
Sad but true. That’s life. But really, does it have to be this way?
Okay, most jobs are hard to get and they all come with downsides. So yeah, we have to put up with them. But that doesn’t mean we have to buddy-up with everyone in the office. Sometimes we have to be really, really careful and maneuver politically, which means we have to lie. We have to pretend to like and trust people we don’t. We have to tell our bosses what they want to hear, unless of course, that puts someone in jeopardy; or the company we work for is down right wicked and screwing lots of people for higher profits.
Then it time to listen to our Conscience. Actually we should never ignore it.
Some people who follow their conscience and act on it become Whistle Blowers. I thoroughly respect whistle blowers but most of the time those boat-rockers are hated. No one wants to be reminded they’re selling out, especially when there’s so much to gain by lying and cheating. Consequently, people-of-conscience are scorned.
I’ve been a whistle blower. Exposing the bad shit led to losing my job. And worse, nothing changed. Still, I’m glad I honored my principles and that others also fight the good fight. Sometimes GOOD does triumph over EVIL. Sometimes telling the truth makes the world a better place. Sometimes people win the Nobel Peace Prize for following their Inner Voice. Most of the time though, saints are stoned. When you’re surrounded by assassins, sometimes it’s best to just walk away and protect yourself. Sometimes I do that.
One of the upsides to retirement, at least for me, is that I don’t have to kiss ass to keep working. Two months ago I picked a new vocation – local activism. I’m volunteering to help fight a freeway project California wants to build through the middle of my community. Most everyone who lives near me wants the project to die. Most everyone who has something to gain from more trucks hauling stuff wants the project to live. The lines have been drawn: The People vs. Government and Big Business. It’s David and Goliath again.
I’m bringing this up because not all Davids get along, even when agreeing to agree. I’ve joined a group of irked do-gooders and I’m meeting them in various committees and organizations. Each time I shake hands with a new him or her I’m checking my internal vibe meter and searching for behavior clues. Who can I trust? Who feels safe? Who is overly angry and who is appropriately pragmatic? Who is stubborn and who listens?
I have a personal rating scale where ONE means I’m comfortable and trusting while TEN means I’m wary and defensive. Most people I’ve recently met fall into the SEVEN to THREE range. Yesterday, in a community out-reach meeting, I encountered a TWO.
“Are you okay?” she asked me.
“Of course,” I mumbled with a smile and slight laugh.
I had just lied. The woman to my left knew my resolve although I never said one negative word to her. She probably felt it ten minutes before when I asked her, “Why does it have to be that way?” Why did the unused freeway pit need to be filled in rather than letting it stay as it is? After all, we WERE given a Plan B allowing a no-build option. So, in front of the six others seated around our planning table, I pushed the lady to explain her reasons for an 80 million dollar fill-in.
“I’m sorry,” she answered with an irritated tone, “but city parks have to be at ground level. I know this from what I’ve done. It’s too dangerous to get in and out of the park if it’s below grade.”
She didn’t have to say, “I’m sorry.” We weren’t heated, although I did consider her argument to be flimsy. I live next to a famous community park that’s situated in a canyon with roads leading down into it. No one has ever said it’s too dangerous to get to that open space and its facilities.
But I didn’t challenge the lady again. She was dominating our brain-storming session and we were already behind in our assigned task – determining land use for eighteen city blocks that would have been a freeway…assuming we kill the project.
So yesterday, at this community input meeting, we residents became amateur urban planners. There were eight tables with eight design groups supervised by real engineers and architectural experts. My table didn’t click. No one introduced themselves and no one seemed to have any organized thoughts, including me. The vacuum left room for any pressed idea whether it was practical or not. The lady next to me insisted on a huge park. I listened, knowing that without commercial or residential use of that precious land, without selling it and then taxing it, the 80 million dollar rebuild could not be paid off. When I started to explain the ramifications, I was cut off. I lost interest and pushed a foot away from the table.
A few minutes later, our insistent lady asked, “Are you okay?” which meant, “Are you upset with me?”
I mumbled, “Of course.” Then I left my chair for the rest of the meeting.
Why then, can’t we listen and respond to real thoughts instead of phony rejoinders? Why don’t we trust our first impressions and avoid negative connections from the get-go? Why don’t we use the powers we have to know what we should know? Why don’t we listen to our hearts?
The good news? Many people do!