It is curious how much power words can carry in situations where nothing is actually happening in the physical world other than people typing at each other, either messaging one-to-one or communicating many-to-many in a social media network.
I have come to realize that when I react this way, negatively or positively, the power of the reaction originates from within me, and does not come from the other person. The other person often does not even know how I will react (and vice versa when I send a message to someone else), although they may have some idea.
In face-to-face communication the same potential exists, but there are additional channels available apart from the text alone, and it may be possible to detect and address miscommunication — which is bound to occur sometimes — without delay. The immediate source of our reactions, however, is still within and not without. And that implies that our reactions are something that we might be able change if they are not serving us or others well.
Returning to the question of whether people are “basically good” or not, I can see how it could be a hard question to answer when we have so much trouble distinguishing our own behavior from that of others. What am I to say when I react to what someone else says thinking that it is because they said it when, in reality, the reaction came from me? I might not even have understood what they said correctly!
I see us as having tremendous potential, but not quite being up to the task of managing that potential. The more we try to fix our mess, the more we don’t. It’s a hard thing to admit. So we keep trying, or at least many of us do. Others are working just as hard, it seems, to break things even more. Strange, that.
But what if we do admit that we have problems and we can’t fix them ourselves — then what? I will not try to answer that in a general way. I will only say that I reached a point like that when I was 31 years old (I am 67 now). Stuck. And I tried something different. I wanted to change the way my life was going and there was no lack of advice and instruction on what to do, but it couldn’t possibly all be valid.
So how could I tell what was true and what was not? That was my question at the time. I asked it to nobody in particular; I just put it out to the universe, intensely. A day or so later the phone rang and I talked with someone that wanted me to take some classes. Those classes provided the first clues. I’ve spent the rest of my life following the trail, a trail that through many unexpected twists and turns ultimately led me back to things I had learned growing up but hadn’t fully appreciated.
That was my trail, though. It’s different for each person. What I think we all have in common is the need to admit when things aren’t working out, and to notice that we live in a universe that actually seems to work rather well apart from us. I find that encouraging. But what to do?
I think it might come down to this: notice that you need help. Ask for help. Accept it when it comes. Repeat.