I am pretty patient in general. With people, I mean. Wait. That’s not true. I am impatient in my brain, but outwardly, I’m patient. I understand people’s foibles because I know the reasoning behind it. I’m not an empath for no reason.
Side note: There was someone at Ask A Manager (a commenter) who wrote, “Of course, there is no such thing as an empath.” She dropped it in like everyone knew this to be a fact.” I did not say but should have, “Just because YOU don’t believe in them, it doesn’t mean it’s not true.” But I didn’t because I know what people think of empaths. I don’t even really like the word, but I accept it’s the common nomeclature. I can understand why she did not want it to be true.
I have known since I was in college that people don’t like being told about themselves. I mean, I knew it before that, but it was when I was studying psychology that I realized that most people don’t know themselves and more to the point, don’t want to know themselves. Jung was spot on when he said that people didn’t want to see their shadow sides.
It’s funny to me because I’m all about my shadow side. For most of my life, I have freely admitted my flaws. I’m a slob and a procrastinator. I am quick to take offense being very thin-skinned and quicker to anger. I am sarcastic and I see the negative in people much more easily than I see the positive. I’m sarcastic, snide, and will always find the fault in everything.
For decades, I refused to look at any of my positives. I liked to joke that my shadow side comprised my positive aspects. This was collateral damage from a childhood in which I could not do anything right. I got it in my head that I would be punished if I said anything at all positive about myself. This was my Taiwanese culture at work, but it was also my parents being overwhelmingly negative people.
Other people, though, cannot bear to face their own flaws. In fact, many of them will go to any lengths not to acknowledge them. And then act up because they’re so ashamed of them. It’s fascinating as a student of psych to watch the defense mechanisms people use. There’s a saying in psychology. You don’t take away someone’s defense mechanism without giving them something to replace it with.
It makes sense. There’s a reason people develop their defense mechanisms–usually as a way of coping with a difficult situation. Such as when I was a kid and I was feeling very depressed because of my shitty home situation, I would read to escape. For hours on end. I was a night owl, so I would stuff the crack under my door with t-shirts and read until well past midnight. My parents never knew.
Now, I’m an inveterate night owl. When I was in the hospital, I was full of sedatives, which made me sleep pretty much all day and all night long. Before the medical crisis, I didn’t sleep much or well. Through Taiji, I went from sleeping 4 1/2 hours a night to 6 1/2 hours a night. I woke up twice, but did not take that long to fall back asleep (at 6 1/2 hours, I mean). I considered that a win.
Then, in the hospital, I slept a lot. I mean A LOT. When I got home, I was in bed by 10 p.m. (unheard of! I hadn’t gone to bed by midnight since…well, ever) and up at 6 a.m. every day. I woke once, maybe, but just to pee and then back asleep. I was amazed because it was so unlike me. After my parents left, I inched my bedtime later and later because that’s my natural state.
Before I went into the hospital, I had been working on changing my sleep schedule with limited success. I managed to get it to 1 a.m., but then I slowly started sliding. This is me being extremely conscious about my bedtime, which I know is bad. Or at least off-the-norm. There was a time when I went to bed at six or seven in the morning, which was not good.
I say that, but was it really that bad? That’s the thing. I read something once about codependency that said that if both people were truly ok with how the relationship was structured, it wasn’t really a probem if one was in complete control. We can argue whether this is actually possible or not, but I would agree with that.
To tell you the truth, the biggest issue I had with that sleep schedule was that it was deemed weird by others. And it made it difficult to do routine tasks like going to the bank. Other than that, though, I really enjoyed being awake while everyone else was asleep. I felt as if the world was mine, and it was glorious.
Now, I go to bed by midnight and get up at eight. Except. Yes, it’s starting to inch backwards again. The last few weeks, it’s been more like one. Onec, it was almost two! That’s my hard stop. I will not let it go past two. Or at least not by much. See? That’s how I slide.
This is what it’s like when people try to fix their flaws, by the way. It’s also why NY resolutions fail so often. Flaws and habits are hard to break. There’s a theory that it takes six weeks of doing something to make it a habit. Sure. I can buy that. But, I do think there are some innate things that are more dififcult to change. Such s when I go to bed. I cannot do it before midnight now for the life of me. I may nap now and again, but sleep itslef? No.
And that’s assuming that the person is actually aware of their flaws in the first place. This is not a given. I have seen people deny their flaws with all their strength. Once, there was this woman I knew (online) who claimed that she was all about the peace and only wanted peace. She had a boyfriend and she said that he made her so angry, she “had” to throw plates and other things at the wall.
She may want peace, but she was not a peaceful person. She was an abusive one, though she would have recoiled in horror to hear that about herself. It’s not easy to face your negative attributes, especially when they are as nasty as being abusive.
Even when you realize you have a negative attribute, changing it isn’t easy. I talk too much. Or I talk too little. Very rarely do I talk the right amount. I know this, but when I start talking, I cannot stop. It’s probably because I don’t talk much in general (I’m basically a hermit with nearly all my interactions being online), so once I get started, I can’t stop. I have told myself several times not to be like that, but then I just didn’t stop. Even as I was talking, I was aware that i was saying too much, but I could not stop myself.
At this point in my life, I know that some of my flaws are not worth working on. I’m fine with that.