Square Eyes

Whatever you say about another person’s method of living is what you say about yourself. You impart more information about yourself in your censure of another than you do about the person you’re criticizing.

Oddly enough, there are many in this world who know this. They know the fact of the matter is their own character is displayed when they fight and bite, but they do it anyway. They can’t help themselves. The reaction is so long-practiced the vitriolic review just pours out like a flood. Whether it’s a wordy, mouthy retort, or a wordy thumb response on a digital device, it is a habit to avoid.

Challenged to keep their mouth shut, some people hear a trigger word, or read a trigger subject, and they leap in the conversation like a jaguar on prey. They hunger for the negative concupiscent word volley.

And is it only certain subjects that trigger? For some this is true. For others, further from sanity, any and every subject will do. There are some who can find the negative aspect of any topic.

Perhaps we should call the ones who are only triggered by one subject the fortunate ones. Possibly we should pity the ones who find everything controversial. It’s a difficult task to pity the ones who bring poison and hate into every conversation. Most people learn to avoid poison. Most people don’t drink the abrasive or devour the rotten. We tend to avoid that which brings us pain. We tend to reject that which causes us sorrow.

So what is the answer to the problem of finding negativity in conversations?

The first thing is to recognize when it’s happening. You have to see it when it starts. It comes at the first thought of negativity. Before you even talk about something, you have to square your sights on the words you’re going to use. You have to focus on the way you’re going to approach a subject. It’s at that moment you need to shift your crosshairs. You have to be able to say, “Hold on. Am I going to bring this conversation down, or am I going to bring it up?”

(Have you ever seen Terminator? The scene where the robot assassin scrolls through a menu of possible responses and chooses one? This is how humans work too. We have a series of possible responses. We can choose the angle at which we attack any subject.)

The second thing to do is to keep it up. During a conversation where a negative thought enters your head, there will be other points when the conversation can steer toward the negative. So, you have to keep your guard up.

Third, you have to practice positivity, even when you so want to point out the stupidity, the ironic views, the contradictions, and the bad habits of another.

And is the irony of my observation of these uber-critical people not obvious to me? It is obvious. I must be hypercritical or I wouldn’t know these people so well, eh?

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, five screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at xenosthesia.com or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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