Be NICE to me!

Why are our feelings hurt when someone says something about us? Because we want everyone to think about us what we think about ourselves. I’m assuming you’re someone who knows what I’m talking about here. A person with a high opinion of himself/herself, like Quirk, will think that everyone should have the same high opinion of him/her. To give me something to work with, let’s look at the following dialogue:

Quirk: When I grow up, I’d like to be an airport worker, like one of those people… you know, at the airport.

Me: Oh, those people are annoying! You’d fit right in.

Q: [In a highly annoying and annoyed voice] Hey! I’m not annoying!

As you can see, Quirk’s feelings were hurt when I told him something contrary to his vision of himself. Of course, I might have been joking when I said what I did, but he doesn’t know that, or he doesn’t want to know it. So he takes offense and goes on defense. Oh, how I love these little plays on words.

Kay. Going into weird anecdote land here, this reminds me of a character in a book I read not too long ago, called The Unfinished Angel, by Sharon Creech. The character was a little orphaned girl (I can’t remember her name, but I think it starts with an N), who always said, to anyone at any time, “Be nice to me!” Usually this little repeated phrase was accompanied by a foot stamp. [No, not a stamp on the foot, Quirk, a stamp BY the foot. When you put your foot down hard on the ground. Yeah, you do it almost every day.] This little girl was under the perpetual assumption that no one liked her as much as she did. She was right most of the time, unlike many other people I’ve met with the same sort of habits. So why, Quirk asks, did I pick this topic to talk about? I have no idea, other than the fact that I was thinking about it.

And then another thing about this little thing of ours to seize on harmless comments as evidence that someone doesn’t like us is that we don’t realize that someone else, whom we slander jokingly every day, doesn’t like it just as much as we don’t. In the day following that which held the highlighted dialogue, Quirk might tell me in fun (or not, you never know with him) that I have the IQ of a desktop rug, which, contrary to his assumptions, don’t exist and also might hurt my feelings. Now the situation is turned around, and I’m the one saying “Be nice to me!” with the little foot-stamp. [Don’t ask, Quirk.] So, put yourself in the other person’s shoes next time, stinky as they may be, and join Quirk and me (well, me, at least) in realizing that it’s just like being in your own shoes.

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