I love watching Project Runway (see Georgina Chapman Talks about Creative Breakdowns, 5 Self-Help Lessons I Learned from Reality TV) not just for the awesome clothes but also for the lessons about human behavior and human relationships. Recently, I caught up with season 14, and at first I thought the life lesson was along the lines of hell is other people, but then I realized something a little more inspirational. People who hate you will hate you, and people who like you will like you. That’s inspirational? Let me explain.
I’ve always been insecure about my social skills. I’m not charismatic, and in long periods of my life, I was painfully shy. This is why when I read this quote in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, I got really inspired. The quote goes:
What you are shouts so loudly in my ear, I cannot hear what you say -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I watched this Ted Talk by Kio Stark entitled Why you should talk to strangers. Of course she’s not talking about how it’s ok for men to harass women. She’s proposing that we talk to each other for real and to form a connection with each other even in that fleeting moment. So why do I like this talk so much?
In my notebook I saw this phrase “ask because you need not go it alone”. I wish I could say that I follow this advice, but it’s really hard for me to ask for help. I’m such a lone wolf so used to licking my own wounds. There’s a lot of pride involved there and distrust of other people. Or maybe I don’t trust myself. I don’t trust myself to be valuable enough that people won’t leave me if they find out that I am broken.
Nowadays I get confused about Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones, so I’m lumping them together in this post. Both written by Natalie Goldberg, they taught me about first thoughts. According to Writing Down the Bones, whenever we write, “the aim is to burn through to first thoughts, to the place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness or the internal censor, to the place where you are writing what your mind actually sees and feels not what it thinks it should see or feel.” After I read that, I was able to write more freely.
People think that How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a guidebook for manipulation, but they are gravely mistaken. If you read the book carefully, there’s a line there that says “I am not suggesting flattery. I’m talking about a new way of life.” That new way of life means understanding that “criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself”. He also says, “instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness.”
There was a time when I made this mistake. I asked someone about what he thought about a certain thing, and I didn’t like the answer. Then, I realized that I never asked the question to know what he thought; I asked the question because I wanted someone to approve of what I had already thought. Not a good thing, no.