I bet you think you know how to be a good person. Most of the time, I’m pretty sure you do your best to end the day with a sense of calm and a modicum of ease. I doubt you’re asking yourself, how to be good. So, if we’re good people, what makes us experience feelings of shame and guilt a lot of the time? These feelings usually don’t make us feel good or awesome! It’s time to get to the awesome truth about how to be a good person.
I think I know how to be a good person.
You see, when stuff happens, when we’re fighting with a friend or a spouse or our kids, neighbors, friends, etc… we lose track of how to be good. I know I do. We get caught up wanting others to redeem themselves. Hopefully, by experiencing a little bit of shame for what’s happened (especially when we think they’re in the wrong). When they feel shame, we tend to feel we know how to be good. We feel good about ourselves.
Think of a judge and jury who want a criminal to feel some sense of remorse.
On a personal level, we think remorse will help us feel less agitated. And it does. We depend on someone who’s hurt or betrayed us to help us feel good about ourselves by apologizing and feeling sorry for what occurred. They are in fact, helping us to know how to feel good again.
There’s something about the feeling of regret or at the very least a teeny bit of sorrow that goes a long way towards salvaging our faith in the judicial system or the relationship between lovers, your boss or even a friend and colleague. Remorse makes life easier when we’ve (or they’ve) messed up. Remorse helps us remember how to feel good. When we feel good, we believe we know how to be good.
It’s infuriating when we don’t get that.
We get irate, angry, self-righteous. We build cases against them every time we think about what did and did not happen because we feel justified and self-righteous even though we may not like to feel the anger. (Anger isn’t usually a feeling that we associate with being good people. It’s not awesome and hard to admit to feeling.)
I was taught to be nice. (I hate niceness.) Polite. To smile and walk away. But I fail those lessons a lot; I’m more of the “speak directly” kind of girl. I may or may not succeed at being kind but I’m usually a pretty straight talker and for me, that’s how I get to be a good person. Rather than a manipulative person. Or a liar or someone who’s nice on the surface and back-stabbing later.
I hate that.
You see, betrayal or lies cut to the core of who we are. We feel violated, used, taken for granted, victimized.
Our self-esteem hates being in the vicinity of victimization. So we build cases against others in service to our anger and self-righteousness. We build cases to feel good again. We have to feel good about ourselves so we can feel calm at the end of the day.
In other words, in the court of public opinion we make others “the bad guy” while all too often, in the quiet moments, we often wallow in self-pity, guilt, and shame. We second guess ourselves and over think what happened asking, ‘Why is this so hard to let go of… ? Am I really allowed to stand up for myself… ? Did that really just happen… ? What was my part in this… ?’
You have to speak straight to remember how to feel good. You speak straight to be a good person.
I say “yes!” to
We’re not as mad at them as much as we’re mad at ourselves.
That’s why we get irate and angry and do our best to build cases against them. We have to in order to feel good about ourselves. It’s how we try to balance our feelings. And remember that we’re good people.
Instead all of these mental gymnastics and emotional pity parties, I think we need to place the anger we’re it’s appropriately needed. We’re allowed to become angry, to protect ourselves, to walk away and have clear boundaries when it’s necessary. We do this because it’s up to us to train other people on how to treat us.
How to be a good person? Niceness be damned…
Shame comes when we feel guilty. It’s a way of balancing out how we feel about ourselves; shame,
And, in order to feel a sense of ease at night, speaking straight helps. Setting boundaries helps. Walking away from manipulative people is healthy. Teaching others how they’re allowed to treat you is paramount to feeling good about yourself. That’s the awesome truth about being a good person.