It’s not so much what you do or say…

“It’s not so much what you do or say, but how you make others feel.”

I came across this quote on a Facebook update a few days ago, and it triggered some sort of emotional response within me. I don’t know how philosophical the update was intended to be, but I just kept thinking about it, trying to interpret what the true meaning is. Naturally, I Googled the phrase and I was surprised how obscure the saying turned out to be. I was convinced it was an oft-used phrase. There were just 3 results in total, all originating from the same source. I don’t know if this is also the source for the Facebook update, but the full quote is in this case is (you can find the entire article here):

Winners recognize the truth of the saying: “It’s not so much what you do or say, but how you make others feel.”

I kind of, sort of, maybe understand what is meant with this quote, but I feel wholly uncomfortable with the wording. It was too reminiscent of my own private thoughts, too closely connected to my own anxieties. It sounded too much like something my dark side repeated to me over and over again during the past few weeks, even as I tried my best to ignore it: “In the end, how hard I try, what I do, or say will not make a difference. Because I am not able, never will be able, to make that other person feel special.” I know, I know… the contexts and the meanings are probably completely different, but the quote just doesn’t work for me. Even if I now set aside my own fears for a minute; is how you make others feel the barometer of your worth? Feelings are often inconsistent, little more than an illusion; they are often a poor reflection of reality. Surely, what you actually do or say is in many cases more important than how you make others feel? Logically speaking, you can justify any terrible deed then, as long as you can make other people feel good about it. And on the other extreme, if you do a good deed for someone who perhaps doesn’t appreciate or even notice it, does that mean then that the deed has no meaningful value at all. I choose to believe otherwise, at least during my better moments. If you truly care about someone, how that person feels about you is of secondary importance.

Interestingly, the quote in the article that preceded this quote works much better for me: “A winner is someone who tries as hard as they can, without sacrificing their values, their integrity, or time with their family.” To me, the two quotes are incompatible with each other. You shouldn’t sacrifice your beliefs, your integrity, no matter how others feel about it.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “It’s not so much what you do or say…

  1. Teo

    Is how you make others feel the barometer of your worth? Waarschijnlijk zullen heel wat mensen ‘nee’ zeggen als je ze dit ronduit vraagt. Maar ergens, stiekem, geldt het voor velen toch in meer of mindere mate. Want zeg nou zelf, iedereen is toch weleens ’emotioneel afhankelijk’ van (het oordeel) anderen? Het wordt pas een probleem als de eigenwaarde onlosmakelijk daaraan is gekoppeld.

  2. Een comment! Hoera! Haha, dit geeft al aan hoe belangrijk ik het mening en aandacht van andere mensen vind. Als er iemand is die daar veel waarde aan hecht, dan ben ik het wel (ook al doe ik vaak alsof van niet) 😉

    Maar uiteindelijk is de vraag… welk principe neem je als leidraad van je beslissingen? Tuurlijk, ik vind het belangrijk wat andere mensen voelen, maar ik moet me daar niet teveel door laten leiden, als is het natuurlijk niet zo zwart-wit.

    Al moet ik erbij zeggen dat de nuance van dit artikel een klein beetje anders is. Het gaat niet zozeer om het oordeel van andere mensen, maar om hoe je anderen kunt laten voelen. Ik had misschien meer tijd moeten nemen om het beter op te schrijven wat ik precies bedoel. Ik merk de laatste weken dat ik weer veel te weinig tijd neem om te schrijven 😦

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