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For the past couple of months I’ve been asking myself a question- what determines who we fight for? I’ve reflected and reflected and reflected some more. Last week, on my flight home, I came across a very interesting revelation about character that links well with the above question.
We form friendships and relationships with people based on their character- interests, behaviours and traits. We love who they are when they are with us. And as a result we begin to expect based on character. There’s reliability and consistency in being able to have that expectation of the people who are close to us.
But as humans are fallible, there are times when people fall short of those expectations. Many times we’ll compare a mistake that’s been made to what we expect of the character and if the two are not a match, we drop the friendship real quick.
As I was reading ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell on my flight home, I realized that we often forget the role of context in influencing the character of a person. He explains so eloquently, “It is much easier to define people just in terms of their personality. If we constantly had to qualify every assessment of those around us, how much harder would it be to make the thousands of decisions we are required to make about whether we like someone or love someone or trust someone?”. It’s just much easier to categorize people as either bad or good. No in-betweens, no understanding.
As humans we ought to understand that others too are human- complex, delicate and powerful beings influenced by anything and everything. People are not absolute. Your closest will do things that will hurt you and your perceived enemies may pick up battles on your behalf. For this reason, be open to forgive when wronged and be quick to remorse when wrong.
As I’ve grown and developed over the past couple of years, it’s become clear to me that choosing who you fight for is about a deep understanding of yourself- your needs, your wants, your boundaries and the other person(s) needs, wants and boundaries. And this requires stepping out of situations and always looking at the broader picture- who is this person outside this situation?
I will leave you with this excerpt from the book,
“Character, then, isn’t what we think it is or, rather what we want it to be. It isn’t a stable, easily identifiable set of closely related traits. Character is more like a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests, loosely bound together and dependent, at certain times, on circumstances and context. The reason that most of us seem to have a consistent character is that most of us are really good at controlling our environment”
© Tessy Maritim