Joe Norman made a good comment the other day, and that sparked something in me.
For my part, I am very comfortable hittting that block button. Not for disagreement, but for bad faith.
— Joe Norman (@normonics) August 25, 2019
There are different contexts where we actually do cancel or quit something based on bad faith – and it’s also true that sometimes we quit because we are the ones with bad faith.
I never had the words for it before – but for a long time I was looking for some rational answer to the question, why did I leave this guy, and why did I go for someone that I wasn’t really that attracted to?
And there was not so much an emotional reason for it either. Of course, you could go on and say I was being narcissistic and went for the guy who praised me, leaving a guy who couldn’t for the love of god find one good thing to praise me for – but in all honesty – while flattery can make me blush, I never really lived for it.
Because I have known it for long that a good comment won’t put bread on my table nor inspire me to take the next big step, and anything regarding praise and status was pure politics, so to say, and I had not much interest in it (other than sometimes jealously wondering how come these ugly girls get so many positive comments under their selfies – yessss – I can be shallow, too!)
So, I didn’t leave the guy for the reason that he wasn’t my #1 fan, neither for alleged emotional impairment (great guys are the ones who at their 11th hour attempt to sling their get-out-of-jail-free card with the label “assburgers” on it). Neither for attention, gratification, nervous sex or novelty.
With this new perspective I see it might have been the fact that I never really felt the guy dealt with me in good faith – so sure, on one side it IS the lack of finding anything praiseworthy – but the problem can also be the abundance of criticisms, nitpicking and nagging (is this an assburgers problem? Didn’t think so, it’s an assholes problem).
At that period in my life there was plenty of novelty – I had just assembled a band and met a bunch of new people – and often with new people arrive those whom it is interesting to hang out to just walk and talk – and just the walk and talk that it was, I was happy with it as is – but the guy didn’t see it as such and suspected I was going to cheat on him. There came the ultimatum (kick him out of the band or else) and the rest is history.
To tell you the truth – at the time my boyfriend meant the world to me. Even when there was absolutely nothing that interested me would be impressive to him – I wished I could impress him, but he was impressed by other sorts of things that I wasn’t really into. Having said all that, and thinking the world of a scumbag alcoholic (that and that, but also very intelligent, might I say – or so it seemed to me!) who couldn’t ever say anything positive and was vert apt to nitpicking – the bad faith crushed it. It crushed me and I went on to do something stupid.
And today I suspect that is how these stories go for thousands and thousands of couples every day. They don’t go cheating or quitting because they have found someone else from whom to get better attention or gratification – they go cheating or quitting after they have been shown bad faith.
You know, once your partner thinks you are cheating – and when you’re not – s/he’ll make you move mountains to prove yourself right – and guess what, it probably won’t be enough even then. I guess if I had chosen a different path, kicked the guy out of the band, gone no-contact – it would have been brought up every now and then anyway (and I guess by saying this I am showing bad faith now).
Another area I have had a hard time explaining why I left was regarding an employer. And might I say this man was dealing in bad faith with every single one of us. We could have admitted when we made mistakes, we could have admitted when his ideas were better – but none of that flew there – to him everyone is just a vindictive idiot and the whole world is up and against him.
Once again – I do not mind getting nitpicked at some work things (sometimes it is important in design, especially when you are a beginner) – I can live without the praise and gratitude – but my god, deal with me in bad faith and I will flip a table and walk out.
Of course, it wasn’t always like this, and the dimension of “bad faith” is a new discovery for me personally – but I find it to be a good rule moving forwards in life; so I wouldn’t blindly hang on to deals that have no intentions of bringing me any wonderful gains. So I wouldn’t blindly stay in conversations where the other person has no intentions to pay attention to what the conversation is about etc.
What causes someone to have bad faith?
I should know, because I have it too, sometimes. And mainly it is when I perceive that someone is attacking me or threatening me somehow. Sometimes the bad faith comes because of my personal insecurities, meaning I basically hallucinate trouble where there is none, and other times it is because people really are pushing the doors that I’d rather not have pushed.
One touchy area for me might be my competence at my job – my knowledge of marketing and design principles. And when I have done a proper job, and someone comes to trash it all away just because they think they can do a better one (or whatever their fucking reasons) – it upsets me. It upsets me, stupidly enough, because a narrative starts playing in my head: this person sees me as incompetent and has come to show me how to do my fucking job.
It is a difficult area, emotionally speaking – I feel embarrassed about it so much I don’t even know why would I write about this to a public blog 🙂 But there, for the sake of philosophy and expanding on thoughts on human motivations, I’ll be open about it.
Now, I can’t say I am insecure about marketing or graphics – that part is sort of whatevs. Then what is it about, do I fear that my gender or age isn’t convincing enough – would this very same person come with their ideas had I made the exact same thing but had a grey beard?
Well, maybe it is a little bit about status. I don’t want to be seen as a stupid junior. It might even be irritating – I get the downsides of age (turning 31 soon) – metabolism is slowing down, can’t endure hangovers, wrinkles emerge, options in some fronts are thinning – but none of the upsides (like trusting that I have enough experience on the field and you better not fucking override my decisions).
Well, I can try to see the good in bad – some say I still do look like a teenager (not really though, the metabolism shows (but hey, probably could fix it when I do whatever mr. Mangan on twitter tells me to)) – and looking old and withered can be problematic for females.
But I don’t fucking care about that (I guess I don’t care about it until it becomes a problem – so I better start fucking caring more).
Anyway – what I’m trying to say is – our own insecurities and internal problems cause us to have bad faith in other people. And having been around for a while – some people seem to have more of it than others. Not sure whether it is because they have spoilt characters or they have really had it harder than the rest of us – insecurities by their variety and amount vary regardless.
Reducing my bad faith
I am working on myself – by trying to get to the bottom of why some things upset me when others seem to think they shouldn’t – I figure out stuff like, alright, I’d actually like to be seen as more sophisticated as people seem to be seeing me (will a wardrobe help?) – and that is causing me some attitude problems when the going gets tough; or figure out when people really are being bullshit because they were hoping I see them differently than I seem to be seeing.
It all comes down to being honest with myself. And I don’t think it’s going to be like – ok, I am honest with myself, I will never have bad faith again and I can always tell when someone is bullshitting. That won’t happen. New challenges keep emerging, I’ll keep surprising myself, and other people will keep surprising me.
I suppose the idea is to embrace it – random new shit happens and I won’t be prepared, and I won’t know when – but it happening isn’t the end of the world and shit keeps going on. And while it all goes on, I keep learning about myself, growing – and perhaps working pleasantly on that front instead of thinning the options in the horizon I will start to see the expansion of options in the depths.
Dealing with other people’s bad faith
I think Joe gets it – just block them. Quit them, cancel them, leave them. You don’t owe them any time or explanations. When you don’t need anything from them, you will also have zero reasons trying to sell your version of yourself to them.