Soft centers

“Sometimes the strongest people are the ones who love beyond all faults, cry behind closed doors and fight battles that nobody knows about.” ~unknown

We’re watching The Office, starting at the very beginning, on Netflix. I think we might be on Season 4. We did the same thing with Seinfeld many years ago – we didn’t watch it while it was airing but watched the whole thing in syndication. We’re a little slow to catch on around here.

Michael Scott, is hilarious as the socially awkward office buffoon, but over and over again you see glimpses of his character as a lonely and deeply pained individual desperately seeking acceptance. Outwardly he’s overtly racist, sexist, callous and self-aggrandizing. When you’re allowed to see all sides, though, you see that he just lacks social grace…he has no filter.

Whether I’m at work or at home, I attempt to function from the core belief that most people are doing their best. Most people care for their friends and family, work hard, play by the rules and want to be rewarded by spending time doing the things they love; that on a fundamental level – we all strive for those same things.

If we all want these same things, why are there quotes all over Facebook about cutting negative people out of your life? There must be a lot of negative people out there. Are there? Or are we misunderstanding? Are there just a bunch of Michael Scott’s in the world?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the people who are vindictive and play at being cruel to others for sport. I’ve had the misfortune of knowing a couple of these people personally and of seeing some of them professionally. They’re pathologic and best avoided at all costs.

What I’m talking about are the people who aren’t cruel or pathologic: The Negative Nellie’s or the Debbie Downer’s or the people who say things that make you look at others out of the corner of your eye, like, “What?” They have behavior that can sometimes be baffling. Maybe they’re in pain – guarded and a little punchy. Maybe they’re looking for love and acceptance – a place to belong. They’re just not very good at getting what they want. They don’t know how to ask for what they need.

In contrast to the pathologic narcissists I described above (who are completely incapable of considering the feelings and/or perspectives of another) when these people are made aware that they’ve hurt someone, they’re genuinely sorry, even puzzled. We don’t generally get to see this side of people because they only show us what they want us to see. If life was more like TV, we’d be able to witness the times when people are a little open and vulnerable. We’d get to see all sides.

These people, like Michael Scott, I describe as being rough around the edges but having “soft centers.” I’ve known many of these people – they’ve been some of my favorites. In order to let yourself really know them, you have to let your guard down a little bit. They may say things that would normally hurt your feelings – just consider the source and the intention with them – let it roll off your back. By being a friend to someone who, for whatever reason, may be struggling you can enrich their life as well as your own. Wouldn’t it be great if we all let our guard down just a little, quit trying to protect ourselves from hurts that haven’t even happened yet and gave one another the benefit of the doubt?

Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Caramels – my favorite candy
Soft Centers come in all shapes and sizes

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