“No I don’t! I’m not getting paid to analyse people anymore. I don’t do it,” I said with a tone of annoyance. It wasn’t the first time Captain Cool made the comment on how the psychologist in me is always analysing people I first meet.
When people say things about me that annoy me, often times it’s because they are right. So after months of CC saying this to me, I decided to ask him why he said that about me and then do some thinking.
My conclusion was… Wait for it, wait for it…CC is right. Damn. I thought I left that life behind! As we talked and I thought, I realised maybe I don’t need to leave it all behind.
Let me describe my old job. I conducted group therapy with men who committed sexual offences. I spent two years working in a prison and nearly six years working for Probation in the community. My prison training on how to stay safe was short, but very effective. As a young newbie, I took their advice very seriously. I was always aware of my surroundings, escape route and who in the group would protect me if I pissed off that gang member enough for him to attack me with his shank (prison made knife). After all, I was 23 and this was awesome! The danger and the excitement was exactly how they portray it on TV! Ok, that’s a total lie. It’s not that glamorous or dangerous. However, the seeds of becoming aware of my surroundings at all times in all places, were sown.
Although I can’t technically call myself a psychologist, I did a lot of their same work and have degrees in the field so I’m what I call “close enough to be a psychologist.” Or ask my Dad and you’ll get a really exciting answer! For years he told people that I was a psychologist who wrote reports to determine if people left prison or not. Now that really is CSI material!
Anyway, whatever title you want to call me, the point is I had to analyse people’s behaviour. After all, the media portray these people to be the most dangerous serial offenders alive so they had to be analysed and watched under a microscope. The media portrayal is not true, but that’s something I really have left behind. You have your opinion, I’ll have mine and we’ll leave it there without discussion.
I will say, that like many people on earth, this population play games and like to manipulate. This meant that in order to thrive in my career, I had to be one up on them. This is a very tiring game and that is why I now live on a sailboat and quite often avoid people at all costs.
I became skilled at reading body language, reading between the lines and playing a firm but fair good cop game so I would be fed information I could do stuff with. Obviously for the greater good of saving a victim from being harmed, so it’s not a bad thing. I didn’t always get it right, but I did pretty good.
My heart started leaving the field of psychology a year before my mind and body did. I have controversial views on the field and I felt like I was working in a job that was betraying my values. Even more so because we worked off an old program which studies proved was no longer (if ever) an effective method. Bureaucratics made this very difficult to change. It was doing horrible harmful things to my soul and I just felt icky.
Now I am in a place where I have peace and there are way more beautiful things than horrible things. Off be with you psychology, I don’t need you!!!
Turns out it isn’t that easy. I guess this analysing and observing the safety of others and myself doesn’t leave me so easily.
Last night we had a perspective passenger view the boat. When CC came back from dropping her off, I said, “Wow she makes me tired.” I then proceeded into an analysis of the type of passenger she would be, what we would need to do to keep her happy and what would happen if we didn’t. I then smiled and said, “See, I don’t analyse people!”
Actually part of the fun of our job is making an analysis on who will be who. As within all groups, whether in group therapy, social circles or groups on a charter, there are certain stereotypical roles that you will find in nearly all groups. It’s fun to see if we are right at the end.
The fact is, it’s a normal human response to judge people and suss them out. Everyone does it, not just psychologists. There are many people who do it better than psychologists. Like many of the locals I met along the way who survive on money from tourists. They are damned good at it, as it’s how they feed their families!!!
As usual, CC and I had a profound discussion about analysing and came to the same conclusion. It’s ok and normal to judge people based on first impressions. Just make sure you don’t stop there.
To judge someone is one thing, but to then treat them based on your own opinion, which may or may not be accurate, is another thing. Actually, it’s just downright unfair. What right does someone have to do that to another person they have only known an hour? Who knows what scars and baggage that person is carrying. Sadly, many people don’t take the time to find out who the person really is and if that first hour was really who they are.
We all do what we need to do to survive when we are hurt. Everyone is wounded at some point in their life. Don’t judge it, help heal it. Put any judgments aside to see the person around the wound.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be cautious or ignore your gut instinct. Sometimes people are dangerous for whatever reason and there is no need to spend more time with them. Always trust your instinct, it knows.
An example. At a new job, my supervisor had the appearance of an untrustworthy back stabbing bitch. Immediately I told myself, “Don’t trust her with anything and certainly don’t say anything bad about colleagues to her.” Then I thought how silly this was because she was being really friendly and I don’t want to be the person who says bad things about others. That’s not part of the yogi beliefs I believe in. What a great test this was! I placed my opinion aside and treated her as I would any new person I met, who I thought was really nice.
Guess what? It turns out she had a really difficult childhood where she experienced numerous traumas. She had a horrible relationship history and never felt like she belonged. It makes all the sense in the world. If for your whole life you have been thrown aside, unloved and faced difficult times, wouldn’t you adapt a defensive look too?!?!
She told me about her life in detail. It turns out she is not an untrustworthy back stabbing bitch, but a kind, loving, caring, fun and curious person who would not say bad things about another person. Given her history, I find that incredibly admirable. I am so happy I didn’t take my judgment (opinion) as fact, because I would’ve missed out on a nice friendship that brightened my work days.
I will end this entry with a beautiful story from an Uncle who is one of the two kindest and most genuine people I know (The second is his wife, my Aunt). I know many people would not act the way he did, but I think it’s an excellent example of how the world would be a more peaceful place if we placed our judgments aside and gave more people a chance. We may not always get it right, but when we do, we may change the life of that person.
A man in a car approached the car my Uncle was in and explained how he had a job interview in another city and needed $15 for gas money. My Uncle handed him over the money. There was a silence in the car until finally someone questioned his actions. His response was, “Maybe it was a scam. But if it wasn’t, I feel good knowing I helped someone out who needed it.”