One of my favorite movies is Memento with Guy Pearce. It's kind of a used up schtick now, but back in the year 2000, it was an unusual premise. A guy with no short term memory uses notes, photos and tattoos to look for his wife's killer. The movie was shown from different points of view from multiple characters. You watched the same scene, told from multiple characters points of view, and you saw that each of them were right in their own way, but you were left thinking, "How can everyone be right?". You wanted to know who was the liar, who was the good guy, who was the villain?
So much of our life is devoted to convincing others. Convincing them that we are right, we are decent, we are worthy of our place in the world. We are hard workers, we are of desirable character, we are deserving of the love of our family and friends.
But the person that we most need to convince is ourselves. Joan Didion wrote, "Though to be driven back upon oneself is an uneasy
affair at best, rather like trying to cross a border with borrowed
credentials, it seems to me now the one condition necessary to the
beginnings of real self-respect. Most of our platitudes notwithstanding,
self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that
work on others count for nothing in that well-lit back alley where one
keeps assignations with oneself; no winning smiles will do here, no
prettily drawn lists of good intentions. One shuffles flashily but in
vain through ones’ marked cards the kindness done for the wrong reason,
the apparent triumph which involved no real effort, the seemingly heroic
act into which one had been shamed. The dismal fact is that
self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others – who we are,
after all, deceived easily enough; has nothing to do with reputation,
which, as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara, is something people with
courage can do without.".
A wise man once told me, "Everyone is the hero of their own story." And I think that is very true. Once again it goes back to how much time are we spending trying to convince others that we deserve to be listened to, understood, loved. It's difficult to listen to someone elses experience if it doesn't match your own, it's almost a compulsion to convince ourselves (and others) that we are right and they are wrong.
After way too many years stuck in this pattern (and countless hours of therapy!), I choose not to convince anymore. I don't have to convince anyone that I am deserving of their trust or love. They either trust and love me, or they don't. It's not about me, and it doesn't reflect badly on me if they choose to walk away from me. It means that their reality is different than mine, and no note, photo or tattoo is going to change that.