Breathe, Feel & Thrive : 5 Changing Quotes from My Self-Awareness Class

in philosophy •  last year

Three years ago, I entered college life very naive to such experience. It was a very enthralling experience to me. The mini-city like setting of the university I entered was simply something new that a mixture of excitement and anxiety surged in during my first days.  The thought of college life was simply too huge for me since I was too naive at the freedom and responsibility that came crashing at the same time during such gateway to adulthood.

During such first days, I met my first set of classes. Since I picked Computer Science as my course, there were the Computing Fundamentals, Programming Fundamentals and other majors such as College Algebra and Plane Trigonometry. There were also some minors like English, Psychology… and Self-Awareness Class which is called NSTP-I (National Service Training Program - First Module) in our country. It aimed to teach us how is it to be self-aware and to build one’s self image with the help of our very passionate professor.

Our professor was really passionate in teaching the stuff he teaches. Everyday he would bring some personally picked quotes from famous persons and then share his own personal experiences related to such quotes. What’s amazing is that he picks the quotes that fits almost anyone in the class. His selection of quotes could apply and impact anyone, hardly, sometimes painfully that we didn’t know if he was doing that intentionally or that. 

Here are some of the 5 quotes he shared to us back then:  (These five are what I keep intact in my head from the dozens of quotes he shared back then. I chose them because they simply form a lot of my attitude right now.)

  1. People don’t actually care how much you know until they feel how much you care - Theodore Roosevelt
  2. People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel - Maya Angelou 
  3. Pain is inevitable, but misery is a choice - Christopher Reeve
  4. You cannot please everyone. You don’t exist to please everyone. - Anonymous
  5. Always remember God loves you 

I will not share much of my own personal experiences about those post in this article, though. I’ll leave it up to you. I’ve written this article, though, to share some great quotes to others that may be really life-changing especially that today we’re living in a very complicated world. Here are some of my concerns with the quotes above. 

People don’t actually care how much you know until they feel how much you care - Theodore Roosevelt
Okay, this is a good quote. However, I find a problem with it. First and foremost, there’s nothing  wrong with caring. But people actually care how much you know and what you do. Through experience, I’ve learned that this quote doesn't apply to all people and it should be applied as often as much you need to consider the personalities of the people you are referring to. 

Some people are too hard enough that you need to tighten your guard up or else you will end up being the sympathetic "victim" on them. Though, there's nothing big that's really wrong with this quote. It's just that we need to remind ourselves to balance the care we give other people with the care we give ourselves. And nope!!! Not in a narcissistic way but in a way that we don't force ourselves to actually "care" because we have to stay safe and do it because we're just finding a way out of the guilt of ignorance and complacency. Usually, it's also the first step people who want to take advantage of you use to lure you, that caring feeling - making this quote very life threatening.

People will forget what you said, what you did, but they will never forget what you feel. - Maya Angelou
Similar to above, this might apply to many people... but not all. There are many different types of personalities. In Myers-Briggs' classification there are 16 types and some of which are just too over-analytical. Sometimes we just have to accept that when we say something, it's safe to assume people that people will remember it no matter what, especially if it's a big issue. Also, some people regardless of how we made them feel, they will forget these feelings more than they would prioritize what was said. These people usually are the debater-like person who would care less about feelings others' or their own. 

Not that we're stopping ourselves from being kind to those people. It's just that this quote must be used responsibly. If we keep on making people dependent on how we make them feel, they might interpret what we do or are as a person as mere embodiment of emotions and not as serious expressions. For example, they might interpret our possible anger as something to avoid (to stay safe) and not as something to bravely confront and politely resolve for the better of both parties leaving the actual root causes for our emotions unresolved because we focus on the actual emotions felt than caused.

 People especially when they lost something will never forget what you said and what you did but forget how you made them feel. This happens in relationships very often - relationships that get worse over time because love quarrels are easily resolved by a simple feeling that everything will be okay (because one trusts his/her partner and seemingly he/she feels trustworthy) instead of actually emphasizing that what wrong has been said or done is the one causing the feeling of pain and not the person himself/herself.

Pain is inevitable but misery a choice
No, for me, misery is sometimes not a choice for people who are one of the following three (not limited to):
1) Unwantedly abused - war refugees, rape victims, poor people who are oppressed by the system, etc.
2) Unwantedly confused - people who are suffering under mental illnesses, people who are depressed, etc.
3) Unwantedly refused - people who fail at relationships, people who fail at contest, etc.

Pain is a choice, though. It's more like an "attitude", in my perspective, which may be different from everybody else's. The reason why I would debate with what that quote says is because of two words - "deliberate circumstances". These circumstances are not ordinary circumstances but circumstances placed by other people on other people intentionally like wars, physical or sexual bullying, systemic discrimination, etc. The misery is not personal but shared by many people collectively because of an ever oppressive system that discriminates example between genders, social classes, races, etc. This "deliberate circumstances" combined with oppressive and radical politics or ideology becomes very lethal. 

Thus, the quote doesn't stand. When taken in a context or situation like an oppressive social system, pain becomes a choice but misery becomes not.  Why? Because, we try to avoid pain very much that we are going into a direction of misery. Using this quote (the original quote) in an oppressive system is like saying, you can do something about your misery but not your pain while not recognizing that the "deliberate pain" imposed by the system itself might either be the cause of the misery and such pain can be relieved if we work together collectively and that misery then would never be a choice because it wouldn't exist at all under a fair system. In other words, misery is a social construct / an invention made through a system that promotes personal confusion.

You cannot please everyone.
The only thing that's wrong with this quote is that you should not take it for granted. First and foremost, remember that there are social rules that should be followed. Not being able to please everyone doesn't mean that you should act like someone who is a jerk. Yes, yes, you shouldn't always conform. If you are gay and that doesn't please everyone, there's nothing wrong with that. What's wrong is being gay and saying that because you're gay you can simply get naked in front of other people girls or guys and that wouldn't be a problem because "You cannot really please everyone cause you don't conform."

 However, there are also traditional etiquette that are justifiable such as not farting, getting naked or shouting in public (that would not just please everyone). This wouldn't please everyone and might land you in jail for public disturbance. This quote is often used improperly by many people who commit civil crimes like getting naked in the subway saying that, "It's my freedom of expression. I really can't please everyone." It's simply a life-threatening quote if used improperly that might land you trouble if you do not review your planned actions before committing them. 

Always remember God loves you...
No, prayers are not enough. God loves you but He doesn't spoil you, lol. I'm not a priest, yup. The problem with this quote is not because there is God and I'm not that religious. Again, as like with other quotes, this one is powerful. The motivation behind this quote is to keep you hopeful but not HOPING. For example, just because you believe in this quote doesn't mean that your life is going to be okay; your exams will all get perfect marks; you will get your dream girl; etc. If taken out of context, it becomes a room for what is called "learned helplessness". You might continuously wait for God to give you everything (perfectly) without understanding that the quote is not about you as this "perfect" person or that "prefect" person but a person of you as who you are right now. Got that? Hahahaha. 

Not that God does not love you for failing or being "too imperfect" but that your free will must still be emphasized and anything that happens to you is your own responsibility. 

I hope you got my point and reason in countering the quotes above. You can still follow such quotes if you have been already. However, friendly reminder, don't over-exaggerate it like what I just did with that word.


Post-article goodies:

"To question something is something but something to question is anything."

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thanks for the info =)!

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