The Power of Working Together

Call it human nature — plenty of what we know about the world is based on what people of influence taught us during our upbringing. Living with others’ teachings and utilizing them as a filter over everything we see is part of what makes one person’s experience of reality much different than the next. It can be difficult to unwarp ourselves from what we thought we once knew, especially since the human ego doesn’t immediately adapt (these are lifelong belief systems). Although learning processes naturally take time, for some, change may never occur until a catalyst forces the issue.

We’ve seen those who road rage, the types of people who would bring their car to a screeching halt and jump out into a busy street to confront a fellow driver. Is the problem making them act this way really due to what is happening in front of them, or what is taking place within their mind? Sure, they may say it was done in order to “prove a point”, or “it’s the principle of the thing”, but is that the most positive or rewarding choice? Considering next steps prior to taking action works better in gaining whatever said goal is. Falling into a flurry of emotions is not an enjoyable experience, but for some, at that moment, the mind says otherwise. Without the ability to properly ask why certain reactions happen in encountering change, some act reactively rather than assertively. When someone has been hiding something within for so long and it has been exposed, we can’t be surprised if a stress response happens. Plus, having this internal vulnerability discovered by others can create even more unexpected emotions.

Having a personal secret exposed is triggering, no matter the situation. If internal stability is minimal, triggers such as these can set people off into vulnerable cycles of needing to “win”, in an attempt of self-proof. Although sometimes willing to put themselves in harm’s way, aggressive people are searching (and fighting) to win. Compounding this, the ego also places a filter over everything, so that no matter how vulnerable someone appears in “blowing their top”, they truly believe that they are “winning”. It doesn’t help that we don’t have the opportunity to study Dealing With Humans 101, and that a basic psychological understanding of people is not really treated with priority in development. The lack of knowledge around different types of personalities also puts people in harm’s way, as dealing with, and diffusing conflict is another area that requires more widespread understanding.

Everyone has instabilities one way or another, it’s what makes us human. There is always a good opportunity to offer assistance and clarity to people we care about on what is acceptable behavior. If the instability is additionally tied to lack of boundaries, taking further initiative in helping lead the right way depending on need, be it information online or just the support to take the first step in the right direction. Fortunately, with the taboo of mental health dwindling, we are in a much better place than ever to have these conversations with people around us in a respectful way. Aggresive personalities have great potential to grasp and practice compassion, of self and towards others. Growing pains are inevitable in finding the route to assertiveness.

Say a conflicting scenario were to arise, where a customer is angry about their order at a fast food restaurant. They may approach angrily, making large demands and berating the staff. Present customers who are similarly aggressive may feel the urge to shout back in challenge, or to team up with the customer (the safer choice based on “if you can’t beat them, join them”). More passive patrons may sit quietly through everything, leave, or even film the outburst. In this scenario however, how many assertive people would slowly approach the patron with compassion in diffusing the issue, then taking a moment aside to help the person with what they know about dealing with people in an unbiased way? Imagine if all patrons worked as a team to ensure safety of everyone else in the room, and helped get the rowdy individual and their comments back to higher ground with as little negativity (and as safely) as possible. If people could use teamwork and compassion in detecting that others are indirectly looking for help, there would be plenty more positive times to be had.

Beliefs such as “we don’t know how to deal with people like that”, fear of safety, or that our own vulnerabilities will be exposed in the process, are what stop us from taking the right step forward. Turning down the defensiveness and anger, and turning up the good stuff, like healthy boundaries and compassion for one another is a great place to start. If that’s too hard, why not start small, we could assign a single day of the year where every individual makes an effort to help someone in the right direction. The feel-good energy sticks, but we have to let it be stuck.

Sure, adult authority figures who are loose cannons leave lasting impressions on developing minds, especially since broken boundaries can often mean it’s just another day. In realization that not everything we learned about the world as a child is correct, it’s up to us to challenge whatever faces us with a clear looking-glass. With our observations, we can make the effort in researching to find out more about ourselves and others. Anger and silence in conflicting situations don’t tend to bring the best outcome. Those who are silent may not realize that handling a situation improperly can create more conflict, an obstacle to positive change.

Placing teamwork as a priority in society also means that we all have room to coach someone we care about, even for a moment — to bring them into a better and more elevated place.