Thanks, But I Don’t Believe You

When someone compliments me or says I did a good job on something (which doesn’t happen that often), I don’t believe them.  At least not right away.  For context, I’ll explain why.  I grew up going to church, and I still attend.  I agree with the overall Christian principles, even when I disagree with many of the people that are supposedly Christians.  But we’re not going to get into all that right now.

In the campus ministry I was a part of, it was common practice to encourage someone, then correct them (the actual point of the conversation), and end with something else encouraging so that they don’t walk away dejected.  In theory, I can understand why this makes sense to some people.  They don’t want to come across as only negative, so they balance it out with some fabricated compliment to feel better about themselves, makes sense.

Trouble is, after being subjected to this discussion format for many years, I now never take people seriously when they say something nice to me.  I’m waiting for the bad news, for the “also Geoff, you need to fix _____” argument.  I like to think that I just see through people’s glossy veneer of kindness, but in reality, I’m just jaded.  Think about that for a moment.  When somebody comes up to me and compliments me or tries to encourage me in some way, even if they are genuine and sincere, I don’t believe them.  Not only that, but I’m physically turning away as I mentally steel myself for the presumed oncoming storm.  While they’re going on about how cool my red shoes are or whatever it is, I’m waiting for the other foot to drop.

As a result, I make sure to never go with the encourage, discourage, encourage conversational plan.  It isn’t just ineffective, but emotionally deadens the subject as well.  Good news is seen as a precursor to bad news and more demands, rather than accepted and appreciated.

In related news, read this article by Elizabeth J Liu.  The thug-life chose her, and she is more gangsta than I’ll ever be.

Thanks, But I Don’t Believe You