Carter G. Woodson, the Father Of Black History Month
“If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have to worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told”
In earlier episodes of Daggers Of The Mind, you have heard me say that what you think determines the decisions you make, and the actions you take.
There is a simple explanation for this. If you think you can, you will give it your best, but if you don’t think you can, you won’t even try.
That is very telling for specific situations, but what if a person feels inferior to those around them in general? How would this affect how a person behaves?
Don Shula said:
“The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others.”
Failure is something that takes fortitude to accept. People who consider themselves inferior are in a weakened position, and there is a desperation to prove, first to themselves and then to others, that it simply wasn’t their fault. That is when the whining begins. It is incredibly easy to spot people with inferiority complexes, they are constantly whining and blaming others for their own mistakes.
Alternatively, when a person feels the equal of all those around them, it is easy to see when they messed up, and they are quick to admit it without fear. Why is this?
It’s simple, really. Literally everyone messes up regularly, and it isn’t that big a deal if you did your best. The only people it really bothers are the aforementioned desperately inferior ones. Of course, the inferior ones didn’t do their best to start with, totally sure they couldn’t measure up.
An illustration if you will. Have you ever been driving behind someone in town, and every time they approach a green light, they begin to start slowing down a half a block away, just sure that the light is going to turn red to stop them. This self imposed failure is completely prophetic since they probably will get stopped by the light since their belief dictated their actions. They KNEW it would catch them, so they slowed down to get ready for it, thus MAKING it catch them.
You are the equal of everyone around you. If you believe it, your behavior will induce others to believe it as well. The reverse is also true. If you don’t believe in your own equality, others will sense this, and their behavior will change accordingly. Which person would you rather be?
A final quote by Hank Aaron:
“I never doubted my ability, but when you hear all your life you’re inferior, it makes you wonder if the other guys have something you’ve never seen before. If they do, I’m still looking for it.”
National Park Service, Carter G. Woodson Home
Alan Alda, Actor
“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.”
Yeah, I know we SAY we listen, but is it possible we are just hearing, but not really listening? Hearing means sound is going by and being intercepted by our outer ear, being processed by the inner ear, and being interpreted by the brain to let you know what is being said. What you do with that info determines whether you are actually listening.
“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I am going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
There is so much to learn from listening, but what or who do you listen to? Listening to new ideas is great and actually necessary, but there comes a time in every conversation where you must decide if what you are listening to is a good idea to continue. At work we can get into some really cool philosophical conversations, and I am constantly given information on the subjects that I had never thought of myself, and it gives me major food for thought. As Alan Alda says, I am open, and it actually changes me.
This being said, when would be a good time to stop listening and tune it out? If you do this too fast you can miss out on a lot. Many miss out simply because of who is talking. Since many teens just know that an adult, especially the parents aren’t going to say anything useful, they tune them out categorically. I know many older people who do the same to teens since they haven’t learned anything yet.
Neither of these things are true, and as I’ve said before on Daggers Of The Mind, every one you meet knows something you don’t.
Ok, here is a situation when I tune the conversation out. There are times when the content of the conversation grieves me so much I just don’t want to listen anymore. There are people I know who drop 4 f-bombs in every 10 words. There, I said it. By adding suffixes to them, every form of speech can be substituted in, and you have a major all purpose word there.
I remember asking my dad about this when I was young, when I was first exposed to a lot of cussing in a new school and he, with a straight face said, “It’s because they don’t have a very big vocabulary.” I resolved at that young age, that I was never going to be caught with such a small vocabulary I would be forced to use the same word over and over in a sentence. So far, so good.
This doesn’t mean that everyone who spices their words with constant profanity are stupid. Many times a person will talk to me in a perfectly normal and intelligent conversation, and when the cusser shows up, it’s off to the races.
The official bottom line: Your first reaction should be to listen. Really listen. Once the content is established, you have a decision to make. Most of the time you will benefit quite a lot, and maybe even help others by continuing the conversation. Sometimes, it’s time to get out of Dodge. It is your decision, and yours alone how much you are willing to be changed by others. Make the right choice.