MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “social conduct”

Support in actions

If you observe the signs around you, you’ll see a lot more than what you’re asking for in a verbal communication. That is, there are some things words cannot express.

Not everyone can – or will – communicate in the way you expect or want them to. Each person has their own way of demonstrating affection. You just have to be open enough to see it.

Sometimes, showing that you care is simply by keeping the house warm for your partner, cooking dinner when their too busy, or simply calling to check in.

There are many ways to be there, even if you’re not physically present.

And at the end of the long, hard days we often have, all we really need is to feel loved and thought of.

Masked control

She sneezed and suddenly the entire bus felt tense. It was as if everyone was holding their breath and counting the seconds until the next stop so most could get off. The pandemic has made us too touchy, always on edge, afraid of almost everything. We fear intimacy because we’ve been deprived of it for so long.

Mask constantly on, she got off at the next stop – that was the plan anyway.

She was observing people as she walked by. Their eyes had become their most descriptive characteristic at the moment; when you conceal everything else, what remains becomes more noticeable and gains greater power. You could sense their exasperation with the current situation: some had already given up wearing masks altogether, others were wearing two; most were slumping as if literally bearing their troubles on their back; and more often than not, they were all irritated by something.

So that’s where we’re at: being constantly agitated and not being able to explain why. We’re tired in all ways it is possible and we lack the motivation to do the basics, let alone go the extra mile. We’re carrying all this stress that is often inexplicable and unjustifiable and we seem unable to shake it off.

It’s easier to complain than to react. Perhaps that’s what we’ve forgotten. And we’ve allowed ourselves to tolerate it all passively for so long that we’re now dwelling in the comfort of inaction, seeing no reason to change anything.

No one will push you forward or get you going unless you do. You are your own motivation, alarm clock, red alert etc. If you don’t find a reason to move, no one else will inspire you too either.

We’ve become so reliant on others, on having things ready, at our feet – perhaps this is the downside of so much automation and technology in our lives. The fact that we tend to disregard that we are in fact in control.  So much, that we can even regulate the volume of our own sneeze.

Change the perspective

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A storm was brewing. Literally. The weather was turning piercingly icier and the sun was in hiding. You could feel the wind changing.

But also metaphorically. People were evidently affected – they were colder in attitude too. Agitated, nervous, and too easily irritated.

It was all wrong. For no sensible reason.

So she decided to leave.

These are the best decisions; the get-up-and-go-on-the-inspiration moments. Because if you don’t think about certain things too much, they end up being the best decisions you ever make.

She acted upon the impulse to flee. And travelled all across the world to where the climate was exactly the opposite.

She didn’t exactly encounter a heatwave, but a much warmer weather, and a much kinder folk. People who had much less – of material belongings and wealth – yet much more heart and goodness. They knew how to enjoy the utmost of what they had, and to appreciate the instances, the smallest of heart-warming gestures, the gratitude of having even the slightest of everything.

If you step back from your own world and delve into someone else’s, perhaps you’ll just realise how lucky we are but never acknowledge it enough. Be grateful for everyday; for the goodness around you; and focus your energy on all you want to create, not on what you want to get rid of. Know who you are and what you want to achieve, but be careful who you choose to walk with in life, because in the wrong company you’ll never reach your destination.

A hug and a hot beverage

When people are upset, the cultural convention is to bring them a hot beverage”. So says Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.There is an intrinsic truth in that a warm drink offers comfort. It soothes your insides like a warm hug and subconsciously makes you feel a little better. As if giving you space and the capacity to breathe somewhat deeper.

The convention, however, lies in the fact that by offering a beverage, you demonstrate you care. And in essence, that’s what we’re all looking for. Someone to be there when we’re not ourselves. We need the assurance that someone is looking out for us when we’ve given up on that. That there are people who care, because we matter.

A hot beverage is more than just a comfort drink. It is like a hug in a mug. And we all know how important hugs are.

Family therapist Virginia Satir once said: “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth”. But even then, they may not be enough. Hugging is an intimate expression of safety. You feel the other person’s heartbeat on your chest and instantly feel comforted and reassured that whatever it is you’re facing it will pass. What we’re really doing – if you come to think about it – is fighting away loneliness. Because that’s what scares us the most. Of grieving alone, of being overwhelmed by sadness alone, of not having anyone to alleviate the suffering you most probably create by overthinking.

So, offer hugs abundantly. And a hot beverage too.

People-watching

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It’s called “people watching”. When you sit for hours at a café on a sidewalk, gazing at people passing by, at the world unfolding, as you passively enjoy a cup of coffee.

It’s seemingly doing nothing. But more often than not, it’s actually very interesting to observe people as they go on their way unknowing that someone is watching them.

It’s not really gossiping or weirdness, it’s curiosity about our social behaviour.

People tend to act differently when they think no one is looking at them. We tend to be lighter – in our walk, our posture, our attitude in general. Because we’re not compelled by some unwritten code of conduct or some social norms we must adhere to. We even talk to ourselves, or adjust the rhythm of our steps to the music we’re listening to, or simply let our minds wander as we allow ourselves to automatically go on our daily routines.

Watching people is enlightening. Because every person has a character of their own. Sometimes even more than one. Because it’s that side you don’t usually see that really tells a lot about a person.

It’s that third face you show to no-one that is your truest form.

Talking to strangers

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We have an insatiable need to talk during the day. As if we start the day with a bunch of words that we absolutely must get rid of by the end of it. And if we have no opportunity to share them, we talk to pretty much anyone.

We all have something to say about one thing or other, no matter how futile, silly, or unimportant it may sound. Because everyone has an opinion. Whether you agree with it or not.

The thing is, it’s sometimes easier to do the one thing that as a kid you’re taught not to: talk to strangers.

Have you noticed that when you’re standing in a queue or waiting for the bus, it’s so much easier to start a conversation than anywhere else?

People want to talk. It’s liberating. We have all these words to share. And talking to strangers, to people who don’t know you and whose beliefs you are unaware of, may actually open up an entirely different world for us.

This interesting article describes it well: “Strangers hold the keys to all kinds of knowledge that we want. They help us understand more about people and how we relate to each other. They unlock cultural misunderstandings and bring freedom to the oppressed.” Moreover, “talking to a stranger is inviting someone to challenge our belief systems”.

In fact, like this compliments, “It’s easier to open up to strangers more because they do not know you like a friend would. A friend can be judgmental and it can be scary because they might think of you differently afterwards. Furthermore, a stranger is someone that be “discarded” if things do get worse while it is harder to let a friend go”.

In addition, “Consequential strangers anchor us in the world and give us a sense of being plugged into something larger. They also enhance and enrich our lives and offer us opportunities for novel experiences and information that is beyond the purview of our inner circles”, an NY Times article notes.

In short, we talk to strangers because we secretly hope we’ll find someone like-minded, who shares our problems or who can at least understand them, and who doesn’t have to agree with us out of courtesy or as an obligation of being a friend. We seek alliances in this world, and even if we never see that stranger again, for a brief moment we don’t’ feel alone, and we are alleviated from the burden of facing this world of problems (whatever they may be) on our own.

A kind of bug

© Miles Rost

When someone asks you to describe yourself, what do you focus on? Your achievements, personality, character? We often regard ‘me’ people as egocentric, narcissistic or show-offs.

Yet, we usually undervalue our successes and we don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve. We don’t promote ourselves enough. And it is usually only when we hear others talking (positively) about us that we truly realise how much we’ve accomplished. When we view ourselves in the eyes of the right people, we comprehend the greatness we’re capable of.

But in the end, it’s all marketing: you’re either a ladybug or simply a bug.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

A time forlorn

Remember how we used to look forward to our evenings and weekends to dress up, go out, meet people and have fun?

Well, hardly anyone does now either.

After almost an entire year in on-and-off lockdowns due to Covid-19, the simple pleasures of entertainment, of mingling, of even meeting someone new seem so far away.

We are now so suspicious about everyone we meet, we’ve become too uptight, too OCD-ed, and too closed up to even give someone a chance. But the thing is, no one dares take it anymore.

For single people, dating has become something that belongs to a distant past or, at best, to a hopeful future.

Dating apps have seen an increase lately with all the more people registering, hoping to “swipe right” and find a match.

But is there even a point now?

This interesting article explores how various single people have experienced online dating during this strange period. All share the same frustration of not being able to go out and meet people. Some enjoy being alone, getting to know themselves better instead and do things that fulfil them without having to think about pleasing someone else.

Others believe that if you can’t feel the sensation of being a little tipsy and flirtatiously touching someone’s arm, then there’s absolutely no point in courting a screen. For some, steamy messages are an outlet to vent the caged annoyance of all that is going on, but they caution that everyone is bored during a quarantine and nothing will last when all this is over.

Yet, others find that you might meet someone with whom you can talk deeply for hours without the physical distractions of the outside world. As such, you may even get to know each other better, and eventually feel as if you’ve spent a lifetime together.

Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to meet your match on an app. All it takes is the courage / desire to meet in person afterwards too. You never know who you’ll meet, where and when. Life is unpredictable like that.

But the real question is whether dating apps are actually worth it. Isn’t there something more constructive/useful/fulfilling to spend your time with? Wouldn’t you like to connect more with the people who are in your life even during this awkward time?

People have different needs and different ways of searching to fulfil them. But in essence what matters most is what makes each person feel good with themselves first and foremost.

Right is right regardless

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We, people, are too concerned about appearances. About what other people think. About how we may seem to others; the image we portray.

We are often more concerned about the impression we give, than about acting right and with integrity. We lose ourselves to please others, but, worse, to fit into social confinements.

There are certain ways of acting that we can realise on our own if they are right or not. No matter the norms of social behaviour, we can discern if it is acceptable to shout in public, to speak badly to service workers, to be rude to anyone. They are part of those things that frankly should be common sense.

But what most people fail to comprehend is that just because everyone does something doesn’t make it right or even acceptable.

Similarly, just because certain people act in a similar manner around everyone – e.g. flirting or being overly effusive – doesn’t make that behaviour acceptable or appropriate either.

There are some things we need to respect when it comes to friendships and social conduct.  We need to take into account the people we have before us and adjust our manners accordingly.

But essentially, it is one single thing: don’t do unto others what you don’t want done to you. If you want to be respected, treat the people next to you with respect. It will elevate you much more than anything else you could say or do.

Remember, “right is right even if no one is doing it. Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it” (St Augustine).

Social relationships under self-isolation

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It’s interesting to witness how a state-imposed self-isolation affects our social relationships. Funny memes are going viral in that, during just the first few days of quarantine due to coronavirus (COVID-19), people are rediscovering their homes and the people in them.

If we choose to remain optimistic and see the positive in every situation – even this one – we may realise that this is an opportunity to take a pause and allow the world itself to breathe. By staying home, the decrease of environmental and atmospheric pollution is already evident. But there is more to that: we can take a break from the routine we keep complaining about and rediscover ourselves and the people around us. We live in a world where we can communicate with everyone / anyone anywhere at the click of a button, we can work from home, view films and series, tour museums online, read books, go online for shopping. There are so many things available at our fingertips.

It is during this time that we acknowledge how important it is to have people around us who we can communicate with even if only via a digital chat. People who can keep us strong and positive, and with whom we can exchange useless information simply to keep each other distracted and busy enough to forget to despair that we are “stranded” at home.

Some of us are actually “stranded” in another country away from our families. And due to the closing of borders as tight precautionary measures we will have to wait for a few months it seems to be able to hold them again. Because via videochat we can see each other every day and check-up on each other.

This is the time to realise that we can never tell what the future holds. Even if we plan things, they may not turn out the way we hope.

Most of all, we are given a chance to acknowledge all the things we take for granted and don’t appreciate. First of all our health and the time we have with our loved ones.

Let’s seize this opportunity to stay home, stay strong, stay safe, and keep our families and friends safe too.

Nothing lasts forever. Not even this.

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