Your Behaviour Tells Us Who You Are

And what you stand for.

Alan Kesselmann
Know Thyself, Heal Thyself


Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata from Pexels

About five years ago, a friend of mine shared something about Donald Trump, and his post put him in a favourable light. At the time, the presidential election was in full swing. Mr Trump was on stage all over the USA. We over here in Europe had already seen his worst — his behaviour towards women, behaviour on set, his lies. Most Europeans had already judged him as unfit for the position.

And at that time, my friend posted something favourable about Donald Trump, trolling everybody on his Facebook page. So I called him out on that, and we got into an argument about his behaviour.

My point was that since he did not actually want to see Donald Trump being elected, he should not share information about him. Thus, he would effectively increase his visibility and chances of being elected while not actually wanting the result. But that’s what his trolling would do in the end because not everybody knows him and knows that he is trolling. Also, Facebook’s algorithms supposedly show those kinds of posts to people who believe that kind of crap anyway. And they would then think they’re being supported by his words. So I argued that we should not lie to others for fun — which trolling is — especially when it comes to important matters like elections.

Current behaviour becomes the norm.

Much like my example, everybody silently promotes some kind of culture or behaviour without realising that copying someone’s behaviour normalises it. This applies to every situation and place. What type of behaviour do you promote at work? What kind of environment do you create at home? What type of behaviour do you accept from your friends?

It is often thought why some people tolerate the abuse from their spouses and do not leave them. It is often so because it is normal behaviour for them. They have seen it before and given in to it and accepted it. Either their parents presented the same behaviour, or some other person in their life did. And now that woman or man suffers the behaviour from their spouse. Until it is too late.

Too late meaning that you have passed the acceptance of terrible behaviour on to your children or someone else. In my opinion, that is the worst that can happen.

The behaviour you need to be wary of does not need to be abuse. For example, my wife and I witnessed the following encounter on the beach: A family of five had come to the beach — father, mother and three kids. The weather was hot and water warm. Pine trees provided enough shade, and there were all kinds of things the kids could have done on the beach. There was a playground with climbing attractions, slides and so on. But when the younger one, around 2–3, tried to venture a few meters away from the family, the parents stopped him for no apparent reason. When the middle kid wanted to do something active, he was also stopped. The oldest kid, who was around ten, had already given up and had adopted the parents’ behaviour. He was also scolding the younger ones for doing things that kids should do at the beach — play, run and enjoy themselves.

Those parents probably never thought about what kind of behaviour they are teaching to their kids. They probably never considered that their kids will become less confident because they are not allowing their kids to develop the confidence by stopping them from gaining experience from their own mistakes. Instead, those parents probably were satisfied that their oldest kid was already like them.

Another example from another place and another playground. I was there with my sons, who, at the time, were 3.5 and 1.5 years old. There was another parent (father) there with his son, who appeared about a year older than my oldest. They were playing on different attractions — swings and slides. I occasionally overheard their conversation, which was mostly about the father dragging his son’s expectations down. Don’t count numbers — you do not need to know them yet. Do not climb that ladder. It’s too difficult for you and so on.

I found this incredibly ridiculous. I would have wanted to ask the father, why are you stopping your son from growing? When my 1.5-year-old son wanted to climb the ladder that he stopped his 4.5-year-old son from climbing, I went there with him. I allowed him to climb as high as he wished to, just being there and making sure I can catch him should he fall, but I already knew that he would not, as he had been climbing the ladder for a month. I hope that the other father saw this and reconsidered his approach, but I doubt it. And I know I’m not yet the person who can calmly approach that kind of person and be able to change their mind. Not yet, but I hope I will be at someday.

Set the standards and then raise them.

I know I have my own faults. My wife brings them up plenty of time. This is the chance for me to learn and raise my standards. Of course, the lesson might not always be the one my wife wants me to know. Still, I hope the behaviour I promote is one of constantly learning and improving myself.

We should constantly observe our behaviour and ask ourselves, what is the lesson we are teaching others with our approach. Do you think what you stand for? Do you practice what you preach? Does your behaviour show what you value? Our every action has a direct outcome that affects others in some way. And one of those ways is copying what you do. This is why those who become famous and publicly visible through media have an even higher responsibility to behave better than the rest because their actions affect more people.

It’s not difficult to improve your behaviour. It starts with some tiny things. For example, are we treating waiters at restaurant courteously? Are we returning shopping cart after putting our groceries into the car? Are we throwing our trash into the trash can or right onto the street? These and hundreds of other tiny things make us the person we are. They also are those small things that make the world better for millions.

So please, consider your actions. Think of what kind of person you want to be. Evaluate if your actions show it or not and change yourself by practising what you preach. Take some time for yourself and improve yourself.