I have a strong desire to put up a good image in public. Which I think is natural; unless we have a good reason to, we normally do not show our bad side to people, not intentionally at least. I guess that explains why I can be quite defensive. I don’t like to be put in a bad light, and I don’t like for people to think bad of me.
A month ago, I accidentally took a parking spot from another car. The driver was about to reverse into the spot, but I thought he was reversing into another spot exactly opposite. I saw that spot first and was about to take it when I saw his car, so I thought I better drive past first so I don’t have to wait for him to reverse. I was passing him when I saw another spot on the opposite (the one the driver meant to reverse into), and I impulsively parked into it. When he honked me, I realised my mistake. I apologised to him when we were out of our cars. He looked very irritated, almost angry, because I must have looked terribly rude to him for stealing a spot he meant to park into. That spot was also nearer to the entrance of the shopping mall, so I did look as if I was stealing his spot. Even though my conscience should be clear (I did apologise, and it was an unintentional mistake on my part), I felt upset because I knew he thought bad of me, and I hated that, because I’m not the person he thought I was. I would hate it if someone did what I did and I would probably felt what he felt.
(So if you do have a glimpse of my bad side, that means I’m secure in our relationship and think that this will not make us drift apart. It’s impossible to see nothing but good in someone the longer you get to know a person.)
That said, I am not faultless, though I try to keep that image up. I can be bitchy, discriminating, biased, stubborn, manipulative, rude, judgemental etc. I’m sure that must have come off somewhere in my blog, in one of my posts. I’m sure there were times you read what I wrote with disapproval, but perhaps you did not make your opinion known to me in a comment.
On the one hand, I would be glad if you held your tongue when you disapprove of my faults. I find it hard to take criticism and would probably take it negatively if you disapprove of me. I might feel that you don’t like me anymore. And after all, I am not perfect, as I keep saying over and over again. The implication of you pointing out my flaw is that you want me to improve, or give me tough love to make me realise, keep my feet on the ground, see things the way you think is the right way to. Whatever your motive is to point that out, the fact is that I cannot be perfect. So why should I try to improve my flaws? Flaws they may be, but they are mine, and therefore part of me as a person. And since a person is made up of good and bad characteristics, would it be a futile attempt to constantly better parts of myself that can be considered morally wrong or less than desirable? Would it be taking away part of who I am? If that is the case, wouldn’t it be better if we all keep our judgements to ourselves? Wouldn’t it be easier to just try to accept me for who I am?
On the other hand, I would be grateful if you show me where I am wrong, in a constructive and kind approach, not meant to belittle or crush my spirit, but to empower me as a person. I know different people have different ways of getting their points across, and it does not indicate their true feelings of the issue. Someone who critiques me in a polite and eloquent manner may actually be euphemistic of his or her true feelings, which may be one of scorn and contempt. Someone else who gives it to me the way he or she sees it, without embellishments or politeness, may actually have my best interests at heart. The fact is, I would take the former approach much better than I would the latter. I find tough love… well, tough, and I don’t like it. To me, it feels disrespectful, condescending, impolite, demotivating and imposing, even if you have no such intentions. But truly, if you took the initiative to point out my flaws, with the right intentions and care for me as your friend, I would admire you for doing that. I don’t like to hear I’m doing something wrong, but someone has to do the dirty job, and if you dare to speak up, knowing that I may take it defensively, the wrong way, and may react in a way you don’t expect me to, possibly at the expense of our friendship, but still going ahead and say it because it was important to you that I see the fault because you want to see me become a better person, well… you do truly have my best interests at heart.
Which kind of person are you? The kind who keeps his or her views of others to themselves and try to accept people as who they are, or the kind who says something if he or she feels the need for it? If the latter, how do you approach the person – do you call a spade a spade, or do you try to get your point across by bruising the person’s ego as little as possible? Do you think character faults as something part of you, or something you should improve on?
No matter what kind you are, I think both kinds are good in their own ways. You can’t keep criticising everything that you don’t approve of. But you also can’t just keep quiet when there’s a need for someone to speak up.