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Food For Thought

I've seen a few psychologists in my time. Some have been good, most have been rubbish. I had a particular bloke, I had to travel to Glebe once a week to see, who sat me in his little room and basically told me to snap out of whatever anxieties were plaguing my addled mind at the time. His favourite was 'Ben come on, be real for a second. Out of all the sperm your dad has expelled in his life, YOU were the one who fertilised the egg. YOU, out of the billions of opportunities, were the one that was chosen. Embrace that chance, don't waste it'. Yeah.

This was one incident out of many. Another of his clangers was his advice on women. I was going through a pretty rough separation from a girl I was quite fond of, and his advice was to get back out there and, basically, sleep with a girl or two to forget about her. That resulted in him offering me 3 free sessions due to, and I quote now, 'A massive error in judgement'.

So I've set the scene, this guy was a toss. No idea how he became a clinical psychologist and I really hope his future clients have better luck with him than I did. However, he did say one thing to me that has stuck, and it is the point of this post. I was unhappy with a friendship I was in at the time, I felt I was being used and was quite despondent about the situation. He said to me that outside of each country's criminal laws, people are free to act in whatever way they deem suitable. In other words, there are no social 'rules' or 'laws' that exist objectively. We all have our own set of these that are based on a plethora of factors. More than a plethora, an infinite number of experiences. We apply these rules to ourselves but we also apply them to those around us. As such, we hold trials in our own head when we deem someone has violated these rules or laws, and hand out our own brand of punishment, much the same as a court and a judge would. I was upset that my punishments weren't being acknowledged, and that I had no way of truly showing this person how 'wrong' they were. Of course, they weren't wrong. They were living by their own set of social rules, built over the course of their life, one which was vastly different to mine. How could I expect them to adhere to my rules when they had no idea what they were?

In fact, it goes further than that. You cannot expect people to follow your rules at all. You can apply them to yourself, and you can punish yourself when you break them, but you can't justify punishing someone else when they break your rules, especially if you haven't even made them aware of your opinion. If a friend is treating you poorly, maybe they are taking advantage of your good nature or they haven't called to check if you're ok in a while, or maybe they started dating someone you were interested in, they haven't broken any laws. There's nothing in the constitution about Bro's before Hoe's, or dating your mates ex, or cheating, or taking advantage of good nature and generosity.

So what do we do? Well, it's simple. My psychologist told me I was perfectly able to judge others based on my rules, but never to expect people to adhere to them, especially if I hadn't given them the courtesy of telling them what they are. So you either remove that person from your life, or if they are too important, you must modify your rules to allow them the slack to break them. Bad people exist only in the realm of legality. To me this means there are no bad people who follow the law and conduct themselves in a manner that doesn't intentionally hurt anyone around them. Cheating does not make a bad person. Cancelling plans constantly doesn't. Dating someone's ex doesn't. Sleeping around doesn't. But of course these are my rules, yours may be different. Feel free to judge me by your own, but don't expect me to follow them.

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