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Nothing Has Been Proved

There was a conversation once between my mother and I. The genesis of the discussion eludes me these days, but what sticks in my mind is a comparison mom made between her and my father and, subsequently, myself. We must have been talking about interpersonal relationships, because she remarked:

"You know, Matt, people have nothing to prove to me when I meet them. I trust them from the get go, and then, if they do something later to show that I shouldn't trust them, then they have something to prove. But I think you're like your dad. With him, people always had to prove themselves to him first, before he would trust them. I'm just not like that."

The aforementioned conversation has always stuck with me. At first, I tried analyzing my mother's words, to see if they were correct. After some contemplation, I agreed with her. And it wasn't necessarily something I was proud of (she hadn't meant it as a compliment). How, then, to modify this rather anti-social stance of mine? Well, it hasn't been easy and, to be truthful, I'm not sure I've actually done much about it.

I tend to remember the wrongs inflicted upon me more readily than I do the good things people have done for me/to me. The wrongs also tend to have more of an emotional resonance as opposed to the nice things. I understand that this is an internal, psychological issue. It's something I've been working on bettering for quite some time. The success rate has been variable. Certain aspects affect my ability to cope with the negative occasions, such as how tired I feel, what sort of day or week I've been having, and generally what issues I may be dealing with at the time.

The upshot is, I often still feel as if folks have something to prove to me. And I feel betrayed or emotionally wounded very easily. The words of my mother still ring in my head during times like this, and I try and overcome such idiosyncrasies, but it's not always easy.

The movie Terri has a scene where an assistant principal has a conversation about human nature with one of his students, and he says that, "People are just doing the best they can, the best they know how."  I'll try to keep that in mind.


  1. I think I'm more like you than I am your mother. It's not that I'm suspicious of people so much as that I don't trust my initial instincts, and go with a "time will tell" mentality.

    And though I agree people are usually doing the best they can, I also think it's ok to come to terms with the fact that their best isn't always good enough. If the best they can be is rude and insensitive, they're not invited to play in my sandbox.

  2. "And though I agree people are usually doing the best they can, I also think it's ok to come to terms with the fact that their best isn't always good enough."

    I think you may have nailed it here. Thank you!


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