Exclusion: Defense mechanisms

I’ve talked about exclusion of the “different” people.  Perhaps there’s a flip side. Maybe you’ve experienced it when you tried to reach out to someone.  You try to be nice, but they act as if they want nothing to do with you, or may even be hostile, or rude. Maybe they’re just a little guarded or aloof. These are, of course, defense mechanisms.

When a person is used to being excluded, or teased or rejected, they are suspicious of everyone and end up pushing others away, because they’re convinced they’ll just end up being hurt.  While no one can blame you if you let it drop at that point, it could be fruitful to give it another shot.  If you’re sincere, they’ll see that.

It shouldn’t be purely out of pity.  Nobody wants to feel pitied. It also shouldn’t be done out of a sense of obligation or an overactive conscience.  If it’s not your forte to be an ambassador to those left out, the “socially challenged”, that’s okay. But if it is your thing, give them a couple chances.

If you’re one of the people who is feeling left out, be ready for opportunity.  Be yourself and don’t assume everyone is judging you or that they think they’re better than you. You must also give them a chance.

We’re all in this together.



First impressions (are often wrong)

The first time I waited on an older red-haired lady at work, I hated her.  She was fussy and impatient.  I saw her talking to my manager afterward and assumed she was complaining about me.  I thought she was a real bitch, and wrote her off in my head.

The next time I waited on her she was polite but cool towards me.  I responded in kind.  It went like that for several encounters.  Then one time she greeted me a little less coldly.  I thought to myself that maybe she just was having a bad day the first time I met her.  I tried to be a little more attentive.  She seemed to get it.

Then she was talking to someone else about voting.  (It was near election time last year.)  The conversation had turned to how expensive everthing is getting and she said that she’s on social security since she’s retired and how it’s hard to get by on that.  She ended up saying to vote Democratic so we don’t lose any more.  Since I’m progressive, I was in total agreement.  I let her know I agreed and the next time I saw her we made more friendly conversation.  Since then, we’ve had many more good conversations, including our dislike of antibacterial products and how they aren’t good for you.  A person needs to be exposed to germs to keep your immune system strong.  Plus, those products help create drug resistant super germs.  I commented that it’s all the marketing by companies trying to sell more antibacterial products that’s creating a society of germophobes.  She enthusiastically endorsed my observation.

So, now, whenever I wait on her, I know I’ll have an interesting conversation, if there’s time.  (We get pretty busy at ye olde dollar shop.)  I don’t know if I’d get tired of her if we hung out, but she went from a dreaded customer to a pleasant “regular”.

It makes me wonder how much we miss out on in life when we stick to our snap judgements and treat first impressions as absolutely accurate assessments of a person, written in stone, never to be reconsidered.

What if you met your potential soulmate when you were both having an off moment?  If fate allowed another meeting, as it well might, if you’re meant to be soulmates, would you be open to a fresh start?  A new encounter not based on a single previous meeting?

Of course, I’m not saying to disregard your instincts or intuition.  They often serve to protect you.  If you distrust someone, there may be reason.  I’m just saying that sometimes, this busy, varied, modern life sometimes leads to crossed signals, missed opportunities, and needless animosity.

Don’t throw caution to the wind, but do remain open to your fellow humans for at least two encounters.  You never know what might happen.