Sometimes, when you see the word "Why" with a question mark, it automatically designates some kind of negative feeling. Think "why me?" or "why now?". Me being, well me, it's not going to be that simple or direct. No, I have other plans.
Now I don't have that many people I confide in. I simply don't. That's in part a trait of strong introverts, but it's also a function of practicality in that I just don't have time for all that much in the confiding department. Anyway, I was talking to someone on my short list-o-confiders a few months ago, explaining some nuance of my life (both past and now) and they remarked how remarkably calm I was in talking about it all. That thought stuck with me for days afterwards.
Why am I so calm in the face of what are some difficult issues? For the record looks can be deceiving. My digestive system, for example, is anything but calm in the face of adversity.
Why am I the one who is able to navigate the complexities my upbringing and history and not yet be some version of mentally unbalanced or at least kinda-sorta-mostly unhinged?
Why don't I fall to substance or other forms of abuse?
Mind you for the most part I am grateful for these things, but in the face of it all it would be nice to understand why I am the way I am.
Part of it is learned behavior, of that I am sure. I think that, as children, there is this tiny little switch in our heads that gets randomly (or is that genetically?) switched into some position, in response to stress, that in turn dictates how we end up reacting to stress for the rest of our lives. I know that the operation of that switch can be cultivated, in both good ways and in bad. In my way it wasn't cultivated in good ways, that's for sure. In fact, I learned growing up some pretty damning things:
- When someone is mad, it's usually your fault.
- When someone is mad, they are mad at you and your behavior.
- When someone is mad, they tend to stay mad for a long time.
- How you feel means less than how others feel.
But probably the worst was the simple fact that I had no way of mirroring my experience against the rest of the world. With my business hat on, I'd say there was no metric or standard available to me. I knew that the world operated differently than my family did growing up, but yet I had no way of really understanding that whole "rest of the world" part. It was all so internally facing. Growing up we didn't spend any significant time with our extended family and we didn't really know many other families all that well. I had no model for this stuff, and we're talking pre-Internet, so I couldn't exactly Google or ask Siri "how do normal families act?".
In the face of all of this is transposed what I've learned...make that continue to learn...later in life, namely that there is no normal. Television lied to me as a kid in that there is no real Brady Bunch. Every family has it's own versions, in varying degrees and colors, of what I had to face as a kid. Well maybe I was closer to the edge of the Bell Curve, but it's the thought that counts.
One last thing I've learned growing up: When it comes to the people around you, it's the behavior that is bad, not the people. That, in and of itself is a powerful thought.