Everyone in this world wants to feel important. Remember that, and act on it.
Say you’re in a tight spot in life. You feel like the walls are closing in. You feel like every day that goes by only takes you deeper and deeper into a nasty trap you’ll never get out of. You feel helpless. You feel insignificant. You feel like you’re going to die! No, it’s worse than that: sometimes it gets so bad that you start wishing you were dead.
At times like that, you don’t want anything to do with the world. It’s gross. It’s nasty. It’s full of a bunch of self-serving hypocrites looking to drain you of your life force. All you want is to get away. You feel like the car that’s stuck in a ditch it can’t get out of because the wheels won’t touch the ground. They just keep spinning, spinning, faster and faster, ever more desperately, but still going nowhere.
You want to curl in on yourself and give up. It’s too difficult. It’s too much for you. If only you could die you could solve everything, but there’s that little core deep inside you that keeps pumping away, forcing you on.
The last thing you want when you’re in a situation like that is to face other people. You don’t want them to look at you. You don’t want them to talk to you. You don’t want them to ask you how your day’s been. All you want is to lock yourself away, far away from everything, where you can keep to yourself and quietly lament how lonely you are.
We’ve all felt that way before. It’s probably the reason zombie stories are so popular these days. Maybe the zombie comes from the part of us that’s a little bit disgusted at humanity. It sees us as a bunch of half-dead brainless creatures who can only keep up their miserable existences by feeding on human flesh.
Because from a certain point of view that’s the truth about humanity. It’s a one-sided truth, because it leaves out what’s good and honorable about human beings, but it gets certain things right. We’re driven by our desires. We have a paradoxical desire to cut ourselves off from humanity and immerse ourselves in the human mass. We feel like we were once more human than we are—as if we’ve been infected with some inhuman thing that compels us.
But that’s not the whole truth about what we are. We’re human beings. That means we can feel the urge to hide ourselves away but choose to connect with people in spite of that.
That’s not easy. It takes strength and discipline. It takes a willingness to believe that human beings are more than just zombies who want to consume all they can without facing the consequences.
There’s a part of you that you’d like to hold onto very tightly. Somewhere along the line you learned that if you loosen your hold on this part of yourself, the world will take that as a sign of weakness and crush you. You learned that it wasn’t okay to trust other people, because other people are always trying to worm their way into your mind, your wallet, or some other part of your anatomy.
And you know what? That might happen. There’s no guarantee that everything’s going to be okay. There are plenty of things in this world that are emphatically not okay.
There are people out there who have bad intentions. There are people out there who will take advantage of you. There are people out there who are absolutely and one hundred percent out for themselves.
But what about you? You’re a human being. And because you’re a human being, you need things that you can only get from other people.
It doesn’t matter how much you dislike people. It doesn’t matter how much you don’t trust people. It doesn’t matter if your hair stands on end whenever you come into physical contact with another human being.
You need people. You need to deal with people.
You have to deal with the cashier when you go to buy clothes. You have to talk to the hairdresser who cuts your hair. You have to find some way to get somebody to pay you for doing something if you’re going to have the privilege of living on this rock long enough to get old and gray.
No matter how much you kick and scream and wish it weren’t so, you must find a way to deal with people. No matter how much you want the human race to leave you alone, they won’t do it. You’re a human being living in a complex society, and you’re going to have to find a way to stomach it.
So if you’ve got to put up with the human race, you might as well find a way to make it as painless as possible. And the first thing you can do is exactly what I started this article with: remember that everyone in this world wants to feel important.
You have to deal with the human race. And you can do that a lot more effectively if you manage to enjoy the process.
What makes dealing with people more enjoyable? Making sure they like you and can get comfortable around you. So even though it seems like it’s more effort, interacting with people is a lot less painful if you go out of your way to make the other person comfortable.
Put it this way: if you make sure that people like you, they’re generally less likely to go crazy and try to run you through with a broadsword someday.
Offer a listening ear. Let people tell you their aches and pains, their challenges and difficulties. Congratulate them when they succeed and commiserate with their failures. People appreciate it when you listen to what they say and repeat some part of it back to them in your own words, so they know you’ve understood it.
Over time, you’ll learn more about human nature. As you learn how to deal with it, you’ll make your peace with it. Maybe you’ll never get to the point where you can honestly say, “I like people.” But if you can go out of your way to make the other person feel important, you’re headed in the right direction.
If you found this post meaningful, I’d really appreciate it if you shared it or left a comment. It would mean a lot to me. Thank you.