Monday, June 28, 2010

old dogs can learn new tricks

While catching up on some blogs this morning I read that my blog buddy Amy was camping at Mt. Lassen National Park in northern California. I was excited to read this because I've been there! Wonderful friends from St. Louis days moved to that area shortly before I moved to Tennessee, and my friend Kathy and I had the great fortune to spend some time with them at their amazing place while on a California vacation. Candy and Steve lived just down the road from the Park (less than hour away) so it was a natural destination during our visit. That trip was full of wonderful memories for which I am so immensely grateful. I mentioned to Amy that I would post a picture from that day at Lassen, so here we are! I've included a picture with Kathy, too, since she appears in my posts now and again.
 
I've been thinking a lot lately about behavior. Mine and that of others. There have been several incidents in the last couple of weeks involving different people that have me asking the question, "what's this really about?" Like when you change the font in the church bulletin and someone goes off on a tear. You know it's not really about the font.  I went nearly ballistic a couple of weeks ago about something that happened at the church. My behavior was, in part, about the matter in question. 1) I believe a bad decision was made, 2) the decision-making "process" was flawed, but 3) there's a deeper issue that is about me that needs some exploration.

So I'm exploring. Catalyzed by the remark made recently by someone that I was "just being me," I've been paying attention a bit to that side of "me."  Reflecting on a conversation I had the other day with a friend, I recognized that side manifesting itself. As I thought about it I was able to name the behavior: bossy. Huh. Picture a Hollywood sequence of film being rewound through the years at lightning speed, stopping at a moment in time. Here is where my film rewind stopped. I was about ten or eleven years old (I think, but honestly can't be sure). A group of us (girls) at Friends Meeting happened upon some Sunday school files that included registration information filled out by our parents when we first started Sunday school.. (My mother has never heard about this little episode, but she's gonna learn about it now!) One of the questions on the form solicited input from the parents about behavioral issues. In my mother's handwriting were words suggesting that I could be bossy. I took umbrage at the time, but it looks like she was right! And obviously, since this memory wasn't hidden too far in the recesses of my mind for recall, I've had it tucked away as something to pay attention to. Better late than never, it appears that the time to pay attention is now!

If I was displaying a tendency toward bossiness at the tender age of five, I'm wondering if that was innate or learned behavior (I'm thinking that my dad might qualify as a model in this department, but we're in the early stages here and I don't want to make that claim too early in the game)?  In either case I'm not sure we can "unlearn" behavior so much as we can retrain ourselves to behave differently. Before I can retrain, however, I need to learn what prompts the behavior in the first place. Naming it is obviously the easier part!

My work is cut out for me. One good thing, at least. After recognizing my bossiness the other day I called my friend to apologize. She told me that she didn't think I was being bossy at all, though she acknowledged that there are times when I am curt. Noted. I'm not going to pawn that off on being a Yankee, but I am aware of being perceived that way (which doesn't mean it's not true).

We are ever a work in progress. I just pray that I actually progress!

4 comments:

The Bug said...

Oh I think we're kindred souls - except that you're a lot more intuitive & feeling than I am so you ultimately care more about how the other person feels. I'm bossy & I don't care! That's not strictly true - I just think I'm justified, so I'm not sure why I have to change. Sigh.

Amy said...

Beautiful shots of Manzanita Lake - how sweet of you to do that! We value Lassen highly as we consider it our "private" playground. Since we live in Redding, only an hour's drive from Lassen, we are up there all the time. It's pretty cool to pack up the Casita and camp for two nights with only two hours of driving!

Now you've inspired me - I'll do a post on Lassen as soon as I can.

I think the "naming" part, like you said, is easier than changing - but, if you never "named" it, there wouldn't be impetus for change, right? I admire your honesty and courage.

Mompriest said...

Being a leader and a woman can sometimes mean a fine line between perceived as bossy, being bossy, and well, being misperceived. It will help to ponder it and get some perspective on it all...

Jayne said...

As I get older, it seems to be easier to own my part in things, and it is really so liberating to be able to be honest with yourself and name it for what it is. Like you said, it's never about the font, now is it? :c)

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