Sometimes when we become increasingly self-aware and we’re making changes in our lives, we also become increasingly aware of where other people are not so self-aware and who we believe could do with making some changes of their own. We might want them to feel the benefits of what we’re doing or, we may become a little too preoccupied with pointing out their deficiencies.
The thing is, just like when it gets on people’s nerves when we ride people’s arses like Zorro over mistakes that they’ve made – ‘You made a mistake!’, ‘Learn to spell!’, ‘You shouldn’t be ________’, or when we keep going on and on and on about that thing that we’re really passionate about – ‘I don’t mean to keep going on about this but you really should join this group / attend this church because I think that you would really benefit from it’ – we can end up alienating rather than being of any help or support.
If we’re going through a particularly honest phase, we can end up coming across like the BS police, somebody who has decided that they have the authority to maintain other people’s reality’s, possibly because we think that we’re maintaining ‘law and order’ and that we’re doing it for the greater good of everyone else, the person in question… or even ourselves.
When we engage in this type of behaviour, it’s really important to examine our motives because the truth is, sometimes we police other people’s BS because we’re trying to keep our own reality neat and in order. It’s as if we can’t cope with the possibility that this person might be deluding themselves or even trying to BS us. We forget that we’re in control of ourselves and our own reality. We forget that we can take care of ourselves.
Yes of course we should highlight BS that has the potential to cause us harm / impact us negatively or could cause major problems for someone else (for example, if somebody is being fraudulent) but policing people’s realities because it’s a distraction from ourselves or because we like to be right and we like to try to control the uncontrollable isn’t helpful or nice. It may also be a case of trying to impose our values on someone else (trying to get them to change) when if we recognised those differences, we could respect our own values and live our own lives.
It can be hard at times to know whether to bite our tongue and say ‘Bygones’ or whether to speak our mind and run the risk of causing offence. Due to the nature of what I do, I can smell a funky story from a mile off… but it’s not my place to point out each and every incidence of it. Equally, I read things online all the time that set my BS meter off the charts but unless it’s critical and helpful for me to point it out, I move onto something that I do enjoy reading.
The truth with respect runs the possibility of hurting a person’s feelings but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t tell them. What it does mean however, is that we must question the necessity of what we’re saying and how we say it (language, tone, manner, setting). Does it matter and if it does matter, why does it matter? The more we ask the question of whether it truly matters is the more authentic the occasions when we do speak up. We can’t leave no BS stone unturned, simply because it would be exhausting and it would look like we were doing it for our own ego, not for anyone else’s well-being.
Calling people out on stuff is a form of criticism and over the years as I’ve learned to receive and give criticism, I’ve realised that genuine criticism comes from and is given by people who genuinely want to see a person succeed and who aren’t basing the need to say something or the desired outcome on their own personal agenda.
In the end, it’s most important for you to know and live your own values so that you can live your own life authentically and happy. As long as you know what’s what in your own life and align yourself with similar people, you won’t need to keep trying to enforce your reality on others.
Look out for the follow up post to this on tips on how to avoid being the BS police.
- Sofa Outrage – When people get outraged for the sake of being outraged
- When we lose our integrity in a relationship, we lose our ability to be emotionally available
- A comparison site for humans: Is Facebook affecting your BS levels, happiness and self-image?
- ‘Should I say something?’ When you can’t decide if you should be honest about something
- There’s no need to be the BS police