How sad is it that sometimes you'll stoop to saying how pathetic you are in order to get a 'pity compliment.' What a cheap, undeserving consolation for a tired old tactic. On the other hand, how sad is it that you need to affirm yourself by making offensive blanket statements in order to prove a point, being argumentative in an attempt to leave some 'burning impression.' Or how about the constant need to draw attention to yourself in conversation by bragging or telling stories that nobody wants to hear. What a cheap legacy. It is said that you can judge a man by his enemies. Acting like this wont make you an enemy of bad people. Unleashing your tongue for shock value doesn't make enemies at all. It just makes people dislike you. You just lose respect.It is said that you can see a person's true character not only by how well they take criticism, but by how well they accept compliments. I think I am instinctively terrible at both. I don't like compliments, in fact, I prefer never to be told that I'm good at anything. At least not to my face. Secretly, I want people to compliment me behind my back. I want to overhear people telling their friends, just in earshot, that I am great. I want to overhear that they respect me... but I want it indirectly, so I don't have to accept it. So I'm not exposed. Sometimes I field a compliment with class and humility, but intrinsically, if I don't make a concerted effort, it will make me feel awkward and I'll want to change the subject. It's the same with criticism. I hate it. How dare you? That's my natural attitude. It feels like a violation. Like an attack on who I am. Only when it's spoken in the most respectful tone by a dear friend will I ever calmly listen to it, otherwise I get nervous. Something stirs in me and I feel the need to defend myself, to retaliate against it. But secretly, as much as I abhor it, as much as I make out like I'm ignoring it, criticism can control me. Phrases of criticism can play constantly in my mind, and they can have a powerful impact on my actions. Criticism, even from years ago, can randomly pop into my head when I make decisions, and it can influence me to go one way over another. The fact is, most criticism comes from insecurity. And usually, when its delivered from a place of insecurity in one individual, it can awaken insecurities in the individual receiving it. The insecurity in one breeds insecurity in the other. You may have heard this. Musicians by nature can be some of the most insecure people in the world. We are defined by the sounds that we make, and thus we are very protective of them. Sometimes it's easy to write your own music off so the criticism doesn't hurt as bad. It's easier to mock your own art than to defend it. But I think thats a front, nobody wants their heart and soul to be picked apart. It's a terrifying process, writing, recording and releasing a record. There are insecurities on the macro level, and on the micro. On the micro level, for example with band dynamics, insecurities are like atoms waiting to be split. They are like tiny little molecules which if treated a certain way can amass major destruction.If a band member feels discredited, disrespected or overlooked in any way, the lid can blow off, and everyones insecurities can take over. Heres how it works: I'll be happily and humbly moving along, confident in myself but also willing to give credit to others, and then suddenly something happens. Someone, out of insecurity, will say something self-righteous. Someone will get offended by something miniscule, and react by reciting their own accomplishments, the things they're good at, why they are more important. Obviously, this is because they feel offended or criticized, and out of an instinct of self- defense, they react by giving a vocal account of their value. As soon as this happens, from deep within me, something starts to cry out. What you've done? It says, What about what I've done? How good you are? What about how good I am? And so on. And if I don't squash it, it can suddenly sweep over me. I can be completely enslaved by my own insecurities.And so it goes. Somebody criticizes someone, not out of love but out of insecurity. That person reacts with boasting, out of insecurity, and then causes their neighbors to well up with self-righteousness. Insecurity has now swept the room, like some hyper-speed version of the bubonic plague, clouding everyones judgement, infecting everyones motivations, or worse, killing the vibe. All this out of the vocalized insecurity of one person, callously addressing something in an attempt to validate themselves. Insecurity breeds insecurity.All anyone wants is to be understood and respected, but in order to receive respect you have to earn it. You have to give it. The selfish nature of our culture tells us that we can have what we want, when we want it, without work. You can get what you need at the touch of a button. That is a lie. Blessings come to those who work for them. It is work to be humble. It is work to give a compliment when all you want is to hear one. It is work to let people speak who may have selfish motivations. It is work to put others first. It is work to keep your own insecurities secure when others are running rampant. It is work to have patience. But if you work on those things, people will respect you. You'll find that you can rise above your own insecurities, because your conscience will be clean. And when it comes to the dropping of these "insecurity bombs," you will be known as a diffuser rather than an igniter. You'll be known as a peacemaker. People will like you.
Isn't that what we all want? To rise above? To remain calm and collected? To not be dragged around by the insecurities of others? Isn't that the meaning of cool? Sadly our society glorifies hot heads. Turn on Fox News if you don't believe me. You'll see people making blanket statements, 'convinced' they have the answers, attacking their neighbors' principles in order to justify their own beliefs. It's commonplace to take action out of insecurity. What's even more absurd, is that it's masked as strength. You are encouraged to rant, boast, and criticize in order to prove your point. You are encouraged to put your neighbor beneath you. It makes for great TV, but unfortunately it does not get them what they want: Respect. Talking heads are a joke. Does anyone respect them? The answer is always humility. It is always a quiet, confident patience. The answer is self control. The type Ghandi and Mother Theresa had. The type Jesus had. These things come from a place of wisdom. These are not new thoughts. If you open a Bible to Proverbs, you'll find exactly how to gain respect. The words were written almost three thousand years ago during a time when the nation of Israel was very wealthy, and they couldn't be any more true right now in our postmodern society.There are leaders and followers. Indians and chiefs. Those who read the news, and those who make the news. Those who are the wind, and those who are tossed by it. I have to constantly remind myself which I am aspiring to be. I have to make sure that insecurity stays secured.