Are You a Drag?

Yes, I wish that for just one time

You could stand inside my shoes

You’d know what a drag it is

To see you.

Positively 4th Street, Bob Dylan

We really don’t know what impact we have on others.

Many soccer referees have talked with me over the past ten years or so and say, “I remember when you offered this suggestion…”

I try to watch what I say. My mom was always on the borderline of depression. I always watched carefully to see where she was and tried to be careful about what I said. Sometime she was just fine. Other times just one word would cause some large reaction.

I’ve known many other people who occasionally react with anger or other strong emotion to something I might say. This is tough for me. I’m an observer and always wanting to point out some odd observation. Or, I love playing with words and may have some quick quip about something someone says. I more than 50 years of marriage, I think my wife has appreciated approximately none of those quick observations or quips.

Even trying to watch for my impact on others, I’m still surprised when someone like the referees I cited mention something I said that was impactful in their lives.

Then I listen to Dylan and wonder how many people feel that way…about me. I can still remember a remark a cousin made about my geeky inability to fit in.

Self-awareness is actually a discipline to cultivate. The early 20th Century psychologist Roberto Assagioli talked about the ability to picture the scene you are acting in as if you are observing from just above it. See yourself acting out with others.

If you could do that (I’m speaking from experience), you’d immediately change your attitude and behavior. You’d stop yelling at the clerk or the child. You’d pause and help someone pick up what they had dropped. You would let that car ahead squeeze in to the traffic lane.

In other words, to cite the words of Jesus, you’d treat others as you would like to be treated.

Then you wouldn’t be the object of Bob Dylan’s penetrating observation.

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