Last Friday, seeing my adoptive father’s back pain and about to drive his car alone with pain medication in his system made me ask if he wanted me to tag along for safety measures. He said no (his loss, I guess). Because I shared with him my desire to not have to endure the social dynamic in my adoptive mother’s car, I wondered about the implications of my actions: I not only wondered how it would be perceived by everyone around me but I also wondered if Dad questioned whether I was truly concerned about him or if I wanted to get away from the torturous social dynamic. Because of this, I took action to prevent possible misunderstandings.
Having my motives, and my stance on the topic of motives, has been very important to me. There is the obvious Christian idea that my motives need to be pure and Christ-like. Yet I think that it’s more important to be honest with your motives, pure or not, because it’s a key part of living an integral life. I believe in not allowing anyone to think that my motives are one thing when they are in fact something else.
For some reason, though, I seem to have two perspectives or impressions with regards to my motives:
- they are not pure.
- they need to be defended against outside forces’ invalidation.
The first is the most explicitly externalized. I question my motives all the time, but not whether my motives are real or not. I question whether my reactions and the implications of my reactions are aligned with my motives. I question whether my motives are acceptable or not.
The second perspective is one that come out from time to time but I don’t endorse it because it indicates that either I don’t have confidence in the motives behind my actions or that other people feel the right to place motivations behind actions that are not in accord with my actions or my perspective. Other people don’t like either of these ideas. When I find myself in situations where I see the possibility of other people questioning my motives I get on the defensive.
The first perspective exist under the understanding that I am not a saint and there is the potential for evil inside of me, product of the original sin. The second perspective exist as a product of life experiences.
In my high school, a classmate confessed his love for me that wasn’t reciprocated. Everyone wanted me to be with him, but I wanted freedom. I wasn’t the nicest person towards him and played with his emotions. Two months after the confession of love, I ended breaking off the dynamic entirely. I was fed up with what being with the classmate represented, even as a friend. When I was asked why I took such drastic action, I answered honestly. It just happened to be that soon after (months after) it was found out that I had a crush on another person, and everyone (school administration included) thought that I broke the dynamic with the classmate to be with that other person. Totally screw the fact that at the time I broke the dynamic with the classmate the other person was in a relationship with someone else. But that didn’t matter… neither did my word.
This event shaped my perception of other humans. It made me realize that what I think is the truth, especially when it is the truth, doesn’t matter. All that matters is how things are interpreted by the dominant voice, which usually isn’t mine. I learned to not trust anyone with any information about me. I learned that people tag you with motives and explanation behind your actions… and they are bound to be wrong. I learned that other people’s evaluation of your motives are totally questionable and that I should totally invalidate their input. I learned that I can’t change people’s perceptions of me once their minds are set, that I just have to live out the product of it. Thankfully, high school didn’t last forever.
This event shaped my reaction when externalizing my motives. I think that I will be invalidated. I automatically think that my motives need to be defended against evil people.
For a while, though, I had minimized the impact of this incident. This isn’t a proud moment in my life. The social aspect of High School is something that I want to erase from my existence. The problem with this idea is that certain things that happened in high school imprinted in me that I’m an evil person. This was one of them.
I learned today that there is a battle between the impressions that life has imprinted of my motives and what my motives are in real life, what I strive my motives to represent. Maybe it’s time to consider figuring out how to have a healthier self-perception based on what is and not on what other people think it is or have imprinted in me that it is/should be. This process, which started years ago, needs to deal with the skeletons that were mainly dumped in my closet.