I love people

I have been reminded today one of the main reasons that I am so passionate about building my business and providing the service of personal video biography to as many people as possible.

The reason:  I love people!!

I was assisting with a grandparents day at my daughter’s school today, and while walking around offering finger food to such a polyglot bunch of people, I was once again struck by how much people delight me.

I love interacting with people regardless of age, background, race, creed etc etc. To me, people are just people. Of course, I’m human, so I have built-in, learned biases, but I’m learning more and more to go beyond those and see further into people I may have once dismissed. These people I’m talking about tend to be the “hard nuts to crack”-type people. You know the ones I mean – the people who wear a constant scowl, appear rude and uninterested in others, never smile, and struggle to speak when spoken to.

Since starting my business interviewing people about their lives on video I’ve come to realise that these people are often the ones who have the most interesting story. It’s just a matter of taking the time to step through the barriers they put up – usually to protect themselves.

Okay, I can see that my background in psychology has helped me with this conclusion too, as well as the courses I’ve done with Landmark Education, which have helped me identify my own biases and prejudices, and has led me to have even more compassion for people than I already had.

I have always been a people person. I’ve always been fascinated by the human mind, which led me to seek out self-help books at a very early age in order to overcome a lack of confidence in myself – plus the fascination with the human mind led me to study psychology for 6 years!

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that if you scratch the surface just a little bit we are all pretty much the same underneath. Every person has the same basic needs and wants, it’s just that some people have taken so many hits from life that they have got to a point where they don’t recognise these basic needs and wants. Mostly they pretend they don’t care and that they don’t need anyone or anything. But scratch the surface with these people and you find someone who is just too scared to care or need or want.

I used to be a rescuer in my earlier days and there’s still a hint of that in my personality. I’d pick boyfriends who were bits of rebels and try to ‘save’ them. In short, it didn’t work, though I think I did make a positive contribution to their lives – I like to think so anyway : ).

I’ve learned over the years that you can’t ‘save’ people. If people ask for my help I give it to them, but I try not to go around searching for people that need help and attempt to rescue them. It’s far too tiring and often painful when it doesn’t go the way I hoped it would go. The old saying is so true that you can only help people who help themselves.

But all of this doesn’t stop me from seeing the beauty in all people. Sometimes I have to look extra hard, but if I allow myself, I can see beauty in every person I meet or know.  It’s often harder with the people I know best as there is a lot of history with them – and not all of it is good. It’s often a much easier route to focus on the negative things people have ‘done’ to me or others I know. I may not choose to spend a lot of time with such people, but I can still see them as amazing people if I let myself put aside emotions such as anger, resentment, jealousy, fear and hurt.

I love the saying that resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Resentment and anger directed at a person only ever hurts the holder of the anger and resentment – unless physical actions are taken against the person, but that never leads to anything good either.

No matter how certain people have behaved towards me I seem to have an almost annoying capacity to forgive. I say annoying because sometimes I really just wish I could see things in black and white like many others do. Life would be so much simpler then. But I know, for instance, that the woman who ‘stole’ my ex-husband’s heart was not really an evil monster who plotted and planned, conniving and manipulating him to fall in love with her. At times I’ve convinced myself that was the case (in extreme emotional times!), but the other side of my brain is always there balancing the victim out. And it tells me that my ex-husband fell in love with a lovely, kind-hearted, generous person who in other circumstances I would probably have been very good friends with. Now that hurts a little to be so sensible about it, but it’s true. And my ex-husband may have behaved in ways that didn’t always become him, but I’m no saint either. We are all human, and we make mistakes. We hurt people – often the ones we love the most – and we do stupid things in the name of love and jealousy. No-one is immune.

Why I say all this in a blog titled “I love people” is because it is often the frailty of human beings that make them so fascinating. People who are willing to admit their failings and weaknesses as well as their strengths and triumphs are the people I tend to gravitate towards. And often the main reason we don’t get to see the beauty in people is because we are consumed by anger and resentment, and pretending that we’re not!

I am organising my 20 year school reunion at the moment and am really looking forward to getting together with all the people I went through school with. Twenty years of life certainly is a great leveller. I already know through conversations on facebook with old classmates that life has left us all a little scarred, but has also helped us to grow and see the beauty in the small things as well as the large. I don’t think you have that perspective in high school – unless you have had to deal with some pretty big stuff. And even then, you probably feel like a misfit, whereas at 37 we can probably all claim our traumas, our triumphs, and see that life is an amazing journey.

One of my favourite songs – spoken word – is “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” by Baz Luhrman. It has a fantastic line in it regarding what I’ve been talking about “Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind … The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself”

Oh, and those basic needs we all have? The need to be loved, the need to love, the need to feel needed. The list goes on, but these are at the core of everyone. So much of our life is dictated by whether we think our words or actions look good to others. Or on the flip side we spend our time making sure we don’t look bad to others. All the while not REALLY having a clue what others think anyway because we’re too caught up in our own stuff. And guess what? For the most part other people are too busy worrying about looking good or avoiding looking bad to notice much of what you’re doing anyway.

But getting back to the topic at hand. Look around you. People are amazing! Take the time to ask the people close to you a few more questions than the basic “How’re you going?” or “How’s life?”. Or if you do ask those questions, genuinely want to hear the answer, and let the person know that. If you take the time to go beyond the surface with people close to you or just someone you meet down the street or at a party you will find people are interesting – fascinating in fact!

A great challenge to give yourself is to spend some time with someone you have previously had a set opinion about, especially if you’ve seen them as boring or annoying. Really take the time to set aside your pre-conceived judgements, opinions and beliefs about them and get into their world. You may not end up best friends, but I bet you will find that they are a lot more interesting than you every realised – and a lot more like you than you would ever have credited.

And of course, if you have a video camera, my suggestion is to take the time to REALLY get to know your family and friends by interviewing them about their life. There hasn’t been an interview I’ve ever done where I haven’t heard something I’d never heard prior to that – and that includes the family members I am extremely close to.

So get out there and appreciate the wonders around you – the people who make up this amazing world!

Keep smiling

Louise xx

P.S. I listened to a great teleseminar today via ISMA, where Cindy Ratzlaff (@BrandYou) spoke with Mark Eldridge about branding yourself & your business. Cindy said something that really resonated with me – “Take imperfect action; it’s so much better than inaction”. So I have completed this “imperfect” post and am publishing it. Thanks Cindy!!http://Cindyratzlaff.com

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