Conflicts of Interest Blog by Vivian Scott
My massage therapist and his wife, who have become dear friends over the past decade, lost their beautiful, spirited, and wise 25-year old daughter, Sasia, about 10 days ago. She unexpectedly passed away in her sleep from a rare heart condition. I saw her father today because he was determined to go back to work and on my way to the appointment I was a little nervous about seeing him for the first time since hearing the terrible news. I decided I would give him a big hug as soon as I saw him. While developing the hug plan I realized that I have never really touched him before…even though as my massage therapist he touches me all the time. This morning’s appointment was no exception—but he wasn’t the only one who touched me today.
Over the weekend my friend told me about an entry found in one of Sasia’s journals. In it she proclaimed that she was going to change her life by being nice to everyone. What a concept—I should do that! When I saw my friend today I told him that I had been thinking about “the being nice thing” but that I was struggling with something. I explained that I have no problem being nice to complete strangers; in fact it’s quite natural for me to smile and strike up a conversation even with uber crabby people. I’m also pretty good at being nice to family, friends, and individuals I like. Where I falter is in knowing how to be nice to people who have done something awful or who constantly show their bad side. Being nice to those people doesn’t feel like “nice” to me; it feels like disingenuous fakery. Being nice to someone who steals, cheats, lies, and has no remorse for her actions (yes, I do know a few people like that) makes my skin crawl. How would the victims of those behaviors feel about me being “nice” to their perpetrator? Wow, I guess I don’t really know how to be nice after all. I asked my friend if he knew how Sasia handled that dilemma.
Turns out that in her wisdom she accounted for such situations. According to her dad’s interpretation of Sasia’s-Being-Nice-Rules, one begins by understanding how a person would come to exhibit such behaviors. That’s good because that approach makes sense to me. Through my own soul-searching I’ve come to learn that fractured people do hurtful things and even though I believe every action is a choice, sometimes the need to strike out is bigger than the little voice that says not to.
Then what? The second Rule includes a refusal to strike back or play any nasty games because of the empathy you have for the other person. Yes, I can and will do that. And, then, finally, it’s okay to let go of toxic relationships after you’ve applied enough of Rules No. 1 and 2. What a great set of rules.
So, once again, I’ve been touched by this family. Without knowing it Sasia reminded me that being nice is a good thing and that we all have the capacity to make the decision to do it. It should come as no surprise to any of us that a young woman with such a message was found to have a heart twice the size it should have been for her age and physical structure. No surprise at all.