Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our Insensitive/Too Sensitive World

People seem to be offended very easily these days, usually about something that doesn't even make sense or matter.
But on the other hand, people are sometimes too insensitive to others.

On the way home from a road trip, we stopped at a McDonald's to have one of those dollar sundaes. We sat next to a wall where I could "people watch." 
Nearby, we watched a young woman in some kind of uniform that resembled scrubs talking intently across the table to a young boy--maybe ten years old. He wore khaki pants, belt, and a polo shirt that appeared to be a school uniform. The child kept his head down, as though he didn't want to look at the woman. She talked, he sat still and listened. But never looked up. After a few minutes, she stood and walked toward the door, leaving the child in the booth. I thought the woman appeared a little angry, but not really--just intense. Then the boy slid out of the booth, stood up, but still looked down. From his pocket, he removed a gadget that looked like a short metal rod.
Then he pulled on it, extending it out to about three feet long. It had a white tip.
Then he looked up, and we saw his sightless eyes. The woman stood by the door, and talked him toward her. He used the cane to guide himself, making sure nothing was in his path.

We were a little stunned.

Two young men stood hear the counter, obviously workmen on some crew, waiting for their orders. They watched just as we did. One sort of snickered, but the other one looked at his friend and solemnly shook his head.
One sensitive young man, one insensitive.

And then there're the overly-sensitive among us.
In fact, we take great pains in our present society not to offend anyone or any group. Well, this becomes incredibly cumbersome, in my opinion.

As I analyze the "too sensitive" syndrome, I realize the real problem is misunderstanding of others. If there's something in particular that we don't like or makes us uncomfortable, then we'd like to have that changed to suit our own agenda.

We take it personally.

When our children were in school, they would have some sort of problem that they wanted to relate to me in detail. I listened as any good mom would do, but then asked what he/she intended to do about it. The answer usually was, "Mom! Can't you do something?" Each of them wanted me to change someone or some situation so they'd feel happy again, no longer uncomfortable, and no longer sensitive to a predicament.

The best thing we taught our children was to learn to cope in their environment. We cannot change everything--but we can learn to cope and move along.

The little blind boy was learning to cope with his environment.

The insensitive young man was learning that his friend didn't like his attitude.

And the sensitive young man looked, inwardly sympathized, but moved on.

"Live and let live; you cannot control others."

What does all my rambling mean?
~*~We don't like to be criticized.
~*~We don't like to be wrong.
~*~We don't like to be on the losing side.
~*~We don't like a bad review.
~*~We don't like to appear uninformed.
~*~We don't like to be reprimanded.
~*~We don't like anyone telling us what to do.
~*~We don't like to get out of our comfort zone.
~*~We don't like rejections.
~*~We don't like changes.

I'm still learning about the coping vs. the active changing. I face this often with my writing, my publishers, my editors, my...whatever. Do I cope and let them run the show? Am I being too sensitive to push for a change? Am I too aggressive trying to make things go my way?

I wonder if I try hard enough sometimes to understand the other side.
I admit...I'm not very good at it.
Shouldn't the other side try, too?

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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  1. Celia, I'm as stunned as you. I guess I'm sensitive, but then I'd like to think the world would be a better place if we let a little sensitivity and empathy guide our hearts.


  2. What a thoughtful post. I'm with Stephanie, a little kindness, a little consideration goes a long way in making the world a better place.

  3. Celia, a happy balance is hard. I used to be too sensitive, but now I've reached a more live and let live stage. I wish we could all practice random acts of kindness each day.

  4. I've always been too sensitive, and then discovered that people can walk all over you if you let them. Still if there is a place where I can help, I have to do it, or I won't be able to live with myself. I like what I read once: The World is changed one Step at a time; one Person at a Time. If we remain selfishly in our little corner the world will never change or improve.

  5. Celia, good post. It hits home in my life because I continually have to show new folks how to do the face reading game that allows me to keep up with normal conversation.

  6. My children wouldn't let me take care of things when they reached a certain age. it was too embarrassing. I agree I would love to see more kindness, but I don't want to see it when it's done for the show of it.

    Too much of that going around.

    There is scripture that says ...don't let the left hand know what the right hand is doing.

    Too many people are trumpeting all the kind, helpful things they do and hurting people in the process. So much so people don't want any kindness because they wonder what it will cost them.

    My take... stepping of soap box now.

  7. Some insightful ramblings here. It's hard not to be sensitive, but when we try to look at the other person's situation, it gets a little easier.

  8. The trouble is that not everyone lives by the Golden Rule of "Do unto others as you'd like them to do to you." Folks feel no accountability for their actions these days. I think its an erosion of our culture.

  9. I so agree with your post, Celia. I am tired of all the negativity that surrounds us. I like to be happy. I like to see others happy and do my best to help them along the way. One day while I was walking down the street in our small mountain town, I smiled at every person I passed and told them to have a good day. You should try it some time. The results were amazing. Most people looked at me with a stunned expression first, then smiled and returned the courtesy. I honestly thing people are afraid they will be rebuffed for being first to be kind. How sad!

    All we can do is our part to be kind and caring.

  10. Steph--yes, you are a very sensitive person. One of the best. You have someone in your life who is more vulnerable than most, and I think that makes you even more aware of others and their feelings. Thanks for you note...

  11. L--sometimes I think we're a little fearful of showing kindness. Thank you for visiting.

  12. Caroline--I think we balance out as we age--a little aging--I, too, got my feelings hurt so easily. I feel more secure, now, as most of us do. I just hate it when someone deliberately hurts another.

  13. Mona--I like that saying. All it takes is one little thing to act pleasant and sensitive. Thanks for sharing with me.

  14. Delores--I understand. You must have a special way of doing this...and I applaud you. Thanks!

  15. Tina--I know what you mean about some announcing to the world how good they are. That really rubs the wrong way.
    Oh, yes, our kids as teens--our son did not want any help, heaven forbid Mom would interfere. But our daughter was super sensitive and we talked a lot during her teens years. She actually wanted my advice--I had to be careful not to take over for her--she would have let me.

  16. JUNE--we can always find other worse off than we are.I feel fortunate, as I'm sure you do.

  17. Maggie--it definitely is an erosion of our culture. Too many citizens have turned inward--note how many heads are down as you walk around on the street. Total self-absorbtion.

  18. Paisley--you probably shock everyone you meet! People don't expect that from strangers. I admit, I want to shop and not talk to anyone--other times, though, I feel rather happy and smile and say hello.Thanks for you thoughts. Very good.

  19. I think you should at all times try to be kind. And smile! Smile often. It makes a better world.

  20. Zequeatta--I like your attitude. One of my local friends is like that--she has the prettiest smile and she bestows it on everyone. She's like a ray of sunshine in a dreary world. I love her to pieces. I don't smile big..but I try to speak and ask're you doing? Is your family well? Are you grandchildren coming to visit soon? It doesn't take much, does it, to make someone happy?
    Thank you so much for your comment.

  21. Celia, I've heard it said that when someone is the most obnoxious is when they need kindness the most. But it's hard to turn the other cheek. Service people who are grouchy make me want to remind them that they owe their job to people like me. But I try to be pleasant instead since I don't know what problems they may be dealing with. Great blog today.

  22. We live in a time when people are disconnected from the present moment. Too much reality TV seems to initiate an attitude that rude, crass behavior is cool.
    I believe that good manners make society run more smoothly. Perhaps we should all try to be present more--see that sunset, listen to that person we're with.
    Try not to judge but make a stand for what's right when we see injustice. Sometimes a person has to fight but it's always best to listen to the other point of view first.
    Of course, if you can do all that, you might be a saint. LOL
    A very thought provoking blog, Celia.

  23. HI Celia!

    Wonderful post! I agree with your being stunned. I wish a lot more people would try to be good and think with BOTH head and heart.

    My favorite saying is stolen from Scout, "Walk a mile in his shoes." For example: My son has had 4yrs of intensive speech therapy. He is about 80-90% inteligible, but it takes him saying things once or twice sometimes-- we go out into public and he'll go up to kids and try to talk to them (which is a huge milestone!) and because his speech is tricky they ignore him! Some adults too! Oh, you talk about mad mama bear syndrome! It breaks my heart.

    Thanks for shedding light on a very improtant topic. :)

  24. A very thought-provoking post, Celia. I remember someone once stating that she automatically 'disliked' people until they gave her a reason to like them. It struck me as a very negative attitude, and I realised mine was the exact opposite - I like people until they give me a reason to dislike them, and even then, I try to understand why they might have done something I disliked i.e. is it just them, or is it me over-reacting to something?
    See, I told you your post was thought-provoking!

  25. Very nice post, Celia. You make a great point that people naturally try to form their world into the little box that is most comfortable for them. That's where I think the perception of intrusion or unkindness comes about--something jars the boundaries of the little box. My dad gave me the true man's perspective on this, I think (and I still have to laugh). He always said, "If you don't like what I are, there's plenty of room where I ain't." Even while I laugh, though, I think there's a lot of truth in that. It's a very big world. What irritates you can be gone the moment you stop thinking about it. Move on with a smile.

  26. Celia, excellent post! I don't think you can really understand a person if you haven't walked in their shoes. Never make judgements on people without knowing their situation.

  27. Hi Celia: May I add to the list what bothers me: We don't like to be told something we already know. Very good thoughts. I'm afraid I try hard not to offend somebody or be critical of someone. Perhaps I'm overly doing on that one but I want to be sincere and helpful and tactful. It works but I don't want to be a soft touch either. That last one is really hard. It looks like you had a lot of responses on your post and that is great. I need to show on blogs and posts more often.

  28. Thanks, Linda. You have insight, as you always do. I think being a clerk or salesperson in a store might be the hardest thing in the world to do, unless you like people. I feel as you do, except I have encountered a few who really should find another line of work.
    No, we don't know what kind of day they've had...that's for sure.
    Sometimes I find myself thinking, "I'm glad I don't have that job."

  29. Sarah--and I'm no saint! But as you say, we should have an agenda of treating others as well as we cna. Sometimes, it's really hard! If someone annoys me, I move away...if I can.
    I'm also thinking of the atheists who want crosses removed from places. Now that makes me mad...but in reality they are being just overly sensitive. We don't have to cater to every sensitive topic.

  30. Sarah--thanks for sharing that. I think we become the angriest when someone tramples on the feelings of someone who is vulnerable. I have some personal experience, too, concerning a child. You really want to step in!

  31. Paula--your first statement made my jaw drop! That is outrageous. I can't say I've ever known anyone who would admit that, although I have encountered a few people in my life whom I thought felt that way. It's like you have to prove yourself to the person. In the end, I guess I could do without the friendship of that kind of person.

  32. Miriam--I love your dad's saying! Very true, and good for him.
    Yes, the little boxes.
    As we mature, it's easier for us to understand not all people and situations are going to suit us.
    I always thing--Choose your battles. You can't fight everything.

  33. Ilona--that's the bottom line, isn't it? Don't judge until you know the whole story.

  34. Larry--I don't think being thoughtful and caring makes us a soft touch. But I can see how someone might feel they cannot act any other way. Have you even known anyone like that? A person who always smiles and agrees? There aren't many. Certainly we want to be as nice as we can...
    Like you--I don't like to be told something I already know, either.
    Two of a kind, here, and I didn't think of it. Thanks!

  35. Your post reminded me of an event that happened years ago.
    My friend stopped at a drug store after her three-year-old sons chemo appointment. Two women loudly expressed there disapproval of his 'Shaved Head'.
    They never knew that she lost him a few weeks later.

  36. Sandra--this broke my heart.
    It's astonishing, isn't it, the stupity and nearsightedness of people. I would have though immediately that the child had had chemo. And you would have, too.
    Thanks for sharing that.

  37. Yes, many of us are too sensitive and many aren't sensitive enough. I guess it can be hard to find a balance. Maybe the trick is to be sensitive toward others but also learn to just let stuff slide off our backs. Too much overreacting in general these days. Nice post, Celia.