How you treat people matters. A lot. They call me a “highly sensitive person” or, “HSP” to use the official fancy acronym. Basically, HSPs prefer quiet spaces, lean towards risk averse, and are usually introverted. In my life, one of the most prominent features of being a HSP has been this heightened sense of empathy. Which, at first sounds like a fantastic quality, being able to understand how other people are feeling, but sometimes it leaves me confused, hurt, and overwhelmed.
Last month, I wrote out and shared a list of the qualities that I admire in my heroes. They were things like: Smart, Disciplined, Purposeful, Kind, and Generous. As I’ve been working on adopting more of these qualities, I’ve noticed that it’s further increased my self-awareness. In other words, I think to myself, “What would I do in this person’s position?” Lately, I’ve been shocked by the lack of empathy.
While I’m in no position to judge, I notice. Opinions aside, we sometimes can’t help but see and hear the way other people operate. Behavioral observation is just something humans do. And though not everyone is as sensitive to these person-to-person interactions as I am, I can say on behalf of other HSPs that the way you treat others is so important.
Start With Yourself
This post was initially inspired by two of my favorite designers, Timothy Goodman and Jessica Walsh. Famous for their 40daysofdating experiment, these two have teamed up again for another project called, #12kindsofkindness. This is a super inspiring website, that challenges the way you look at yourself, and how you treat other people. It confronts some of our greatest fears and idiosyncrasies, and turns the tables around.
One of the biggest things I’ve taken away so far from the 12kindsofkindness site, is the importance of treating yourself with kindness. For whatever reason, because you’re told by others, or you have high standards, or you compare yourself to your friends, it’s very easy to adopt feelings of negativity toward the self. I can think of plenty of instances and examples from my own life that have made me question my self worth.
Which is exactly why treating others with kindness starts with yourself. You have to be in a comfortable enough place with who you are, to treat others with the same compassion and love. Whether it’s your business, relationships, or even an interaction you have with a stranger, other people will remember how you treat them.
Kindness And Love
There’s a cheesy line from the movie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, that says, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” As cliché and corny as that sounds, I also believe there’s a lot of truth in that statement. Our inner voice, that self-talk, your perception of yourself, affects how you interact with the world and other people.
I’ve been burned so many times by love. And every time, I find myself returning to this line. I remember that to love someone wholeheartedly, I also need to love myself. My dreams, happiness, and goals are important too, and although my natural tendency is to be compromising and self-sacrificing, I refuse to accept less than what I believe I deserve.
It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy one. Life really is so short. The way you treat people every day, becomes the way you treat people throughout life. And, while some people think they can get ahead in the short run by taking advantage of others, I believe in the Mr. Luther King Jr. quote: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but in the end it bends towards justice.”
The moral universe is also inverse. The more you give of yourself, the more you receive. The more you conquer your desires, the more you get what you crave. The more you lose yourself to a cause, the more you find yourself.
Never sell your good reputation. For any price. You can get a lot of things back in life, but time isn’t one of them.
I’m sorry to dump so many emotions on you. But lately, I’ve noticed so much lack of empathy in the way we treat one another. Whether it’s on the 12kindsofkindness site, on your commute home, on a date, at the office, try to see the world from someone else’s perspective, just for a moment.
I believe that every person you meet is fighting a battle. I believe in order to love someone, you must start by loving yourself. I believe the way you treat people every day matters, because that is how you will be remembered throughout your life. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it does bend towards justice. Of this, I’m certain.