Amy Winn

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Why is it that other people's behavior bothers us?

Today I witnessed a young mom with two small children and one on the way smoking a cigarette and it bothered me. So I am asking the question why, and does that bother you too?

We have all seen the disapproving glances that are given to someone with lots of tattoos or piercings by someone that has none. We have all seen drivers that are paying attention to anything but the road, and we shake our heads in frustration. We watch our neighbors spend money on beer when their kids have holes in their shoes, and get a knot in our stomach over it. But these issues do not involve our lives, our money or our decisions, so why do we care? Everyone says “butt out”, or “it’s not your business”, and at the same time I keep hearing that phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.”

So, folks, which is it, does it take a village, or do we mind our own business? When do we speak up and when do we stand back, and how do we control feeling torn apart when other peoples’ behavior bothers us?

Feel free to share what bothers you, whether or not you did anything about it, what exactly you did, and if you believe that it made a difference.

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    Dec 8 2013: Lifetimes are composed of moments. We can be disturbed because we care...either about ourselves or another. IT IS passion for life or compassion for another life. "Is there love and mercy without pain? What else is left but Grace" THAT IS BEAUTIFUL.
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      Dec 8 2013: Helen, That is beautiful. And I believe that that if we didn't care, we would not be disturbed at all.
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    Dec 1 2013: Hi, I've noticed some of the responses implying that things which bother us reflect the same shortcomings within us. I do not completely agree with it. It is obvious for humans to feel, to react on what we see. Sometimes we contemplate over a particular incident and wonder why we care, but its fine to care and probably you feel you could have expressed a small gesture showing discomfort or say something that might have made some difference. This could be a reason why something might bother for an extraordinarily long time. We are not machines and that's why things bother us, and for the same reason we cannot apply a rule such as 'what you hate in someone is something you hate in yourself' as a general or universal one.
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    Dec 1 2013: I like this quote from Hermann Hesse:

    “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.”
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      Dec 2 2013: It's interesting. I think it may be kinda culture difference. I never experienced it. For example, people's smoking bothers me a lot, but I never think I will smoke in any circumstances. And some people like quarrelling loudly about something I even don't notice at all which also often bothers me , but I never feel it's comfortable for me to do that.
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        Dec 2 2013: Perhaps, the quote is not true in all circumstances. I think, it takes a certain amount of self-reflection to appreciate it. I noticed that when I'm frustrated that my teenage son did not take out garbage as he was told, it's becauese I don't like to do it myself and I don't always do what I have to do, but do not like to.
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          Dec 2 2013: Thank you for your example and explanation. This is also new to me. In this case I'd like to think that because your son's behavior has spoiled your expectation(thinking) and your feelings to some extent has been hurt, you felt bothered by your son's laziness. If I think that I also have this kind of laziness even if I'm a father, I won't feel bothered, instead of which I would ( I won't tell him) think in my heart he has the right not to do it(it's natural)because I don't like to do either, sometimes even feel a little sarcastic about the fact that my son really takes after me. But if I think I do what I should do even I don't like to, I will feel my son should get rid of his bad habit and I will be strict with him. Still I feel this is a cultural difference . Thank you for sharing your thinking with me.
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          Dec 2 2013: As a result, if I have to take out the garbage by myself instead of my son meanwhile I feel bothered, I think I am bothered by the remaining garbage not my son's behavior.
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        Dec 2 2013: I have your same experience, Yoka. Sometimes it may be a part of yourself. Sometimes, as a second example, the behavior may remind you of a trauma to which you were subjected.

        A simple case to which many might relate is many people's real aversion to seeing or hearing of a child beaten or abused by an adult. This widespread reaction does not stem, I think, from the person's deep subconscious desire to beat children.
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        Dec 2 2013: Yoka,

        Thanks for the response. This is very interesting to me. Your profile indicates that you are from China. I've been to China (Shenzen) 6 years ago. I have noticed huge cultural differences with the U.S. It appeared to me that in China people are aware of each other much more than in the U.S. and a lot more tolerant towards each others behavior. E.g. traffic is crazy. People cut into lanes in front of each other all the time. It is not uncommon to see pedestrians crossing streets in the middle of busy traffic; or people walking between lanes on intersections selling stuff to drivers stopped at traffic lights; or cars driving on the road shoulder AGAINST the traffic. In the U.S., if people cut into a lane in front of another car like that, there would be annoyed honking, fingers shown through the windshield, etc. In China I've seen drivers react very calmly. Nobody is annoyed or outraged. If people honked, it was to attract attention (like saying "watch out, I'm here"), not to express irritation at other's behaviour. Have you been to the U.S.? Do you think, it's a correct observation? So, it seems to me that Asian people and Westerners are bothered by very different things.
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          Dec 3 2013: Hi, Arkady,

          You are absolutely right in the observation in the traffic scenarios in China~! Although I'm not in Shenzhen, I feel it's the same in Shanghai or other big cities. And sometimes I also run the red light when I see no cars passing by and people are all walking across the road. I don't have the feeling that I've bothered by this behavior because I also do it.:) (with shame) I know it's not right but sometimes it really provides me convenience to catch my buses when I'm in a hurry. I know safety is most important. People shouldn't run the red light when there're cars passing by.So I'm against running the red light but don't obey it sometimes.And it's said Chinese drivers are probably the most well experienced and patient drivers in the world~!:)

          And I think of another scenario that I'm on a bus and anxious to get to my destination right now,but the bus suddenly stops because a guy is rushing across the red light ahead of my bus and makes the driver brake. At that time, I think I'll feel bothered by the guy's behavior because his behavior has gone against my expectation.So I think what I focus on is the "the present progressive tense", and what you focus on may be "the simple present tense--- something about human nature."

          I haven't studied abroad and been to the USA yet. But I'll be glad to find all kinds of cultural differences to think more and learn more ways of thinking if I can travel to more places. Thank you for elaborating your thinking for me. And I'm not a parent, so I'm not qualified to comment your way of educating your children. I think Chinese people always admire American ways of instructing children to be more independent and creative.

          Thank you again!
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        Dec 2 2013: Now, back to children. I know, there are cultural differences in attitudes towards child rearing between Asia, U.S., and Russia (I grew up in the Soviet Union). I've seen and read about Chinese parents being very strict with their children demanding from them to excel in all areas - school, sports, or music. (http://amychua.com)

        So, when I tell my son to do a chore and he does not do it, I don't think, I'm bothered by the garbage can or the dirty dishes. When I'm bothered by the garbage can, I just take it out myself - it's a 3-minute job. What bothers me is a) disrespect towards me; b) lack of responsibility - I'm not even supposed to tell him take out the garbage. He knows, it's his responsibility. It has been for many years.

        I have noticed that it only takes a closer look into the mirror to understand behaviors of our children. I remember, as a teenager, I was very upset when my parents told me that I will do as they say as long as I live in their house. Now I tell the same to my son. When my sons "talk back" to me, they tend to use the exact same language as I use towards them. When I see my kids not putting away their toys or not being able to find their homework, it only takes a look at the pile of unsorted mail on the kitchen counter or a pile of unsorted clean laundry on the couch or see my wife searching for the keys to understand why they don't do it. So, when I'm annoyed at the lack of discipline in my children, I feel that I'm annoyed at my own lack of discipline.

        When my wife and I focus ourselves on getting things done around the house, other things get out of hands - homeworks not getting done, music not practiced, mischief going on around the house. But while we focus on getting the kids do the homework, put away toys, and practice music, the mail stays on the counter and the laundry stays on the couch.

        Such is life. Perhaps, these issues become very obvious when kids outnumber parents. With 1 or 2 kids, experience may be different
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          Dec 3 2013: I can understand your feeling, because they're your children, otherwise you won't feel bothered. And they may have different thinkings from yours about the result to not having done the chores : a) disrespect towards you; b) lack of responsibility. Just like some normal situations you described in your family.:)
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          Dec 3 2013: @Arkady:
          I think you are a good father :) I think it is simply because you are honest.
          I have one son, so numerically we parents have a numerical supremacy over him (though I have this suspicion that his mother secretly collaborates with him against me, haha). But it is no relief.
          My son challenges every rule, norm, discipline or ideas of his father. He makes it plain that he just obeys because he is not financially independent. I have come to terms with it, because,that is exactly how I was with my father.
          I could only appeal to my son (and I started doing it since he was 16, he is 18 now) by showing a very non-fatherly side of me to him. A side of a regular, confused, not so brilliant, not so sure person trying to do his job. It's an appeal based on the feeling that we are like a team and I need his help.
          I hope your kids will fare better when they grow up a little more. Meanwhile just keep on loving them. :)
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      Dec 7 2013: Arkady, good quote although I prefer the short version "YOU SPOT IT, YOU GOT IT". The spotlight that recognizes what is tranquil and undisturbed as well. The way of Good Orderly Direction. You say nothing, I say something, same thing.

      "I hurt myself today,
      To see if I'd still feel.
      I focus on the pain,
      The only thing that's real."

      When I am in it pain appears real. In hindsight it didn't last but a fleeting moment. Perhaps what is real stands the test of time and lasts.

      Is there Love and Mercy without pain? What else is left but Grace?

      A gift for you. Highest Regards, Larry
      http://allen-watson.com/page135/page106/files/Song%20of%20Prayer.pdf
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    Nov 30 2013: Hi Amy,
    There's no reply option for your recent comment so I will reply here....

    "Amy Winn
    Hi Colleen, Your comment really stuck a nerve in me..."

    Those situations strike a nerve with me too sometimes Amy, because I am very conscious about eating healthy AND spending wisely. You also mention...a woman with children smoking, drivers not paying attention, people spending money on beer when their kids have holes in their shoes, etc., and you ask...when do we speak up and when do we stand back? That's a challenging question and decision Amy!

    If we address every behavior that we do not agree with, we certainly would be busy! If we speak to every person in the grocery store who we feel is not buying healthy food, we would probably be asked to leave the store!

    One thing for me, is to realize that it is not beneficial to impose MY preferences onto others. The only time I have intervened with a behavior, is when I've seen children being physically abused by an adult. I've intervened a couple times...one time in a grocery store, and the woman said "thanks for reminding me". She told me how stressed and tired she was, and said she would try not to take it out on the kids. Did it make a difference? It certainly short circuited the abuse in that moment, and hopefully it served to genuinely remind her.

    One time, I saw a little child fall out of the back seat of a moving vehicle on a main street. The car kept going and the child was in the middle of traffic frightened and crying. I went into the road, picked the child up and carried her to the side, while trying to comfort her. The car came back, a young woman jumped out, grabbed the child roughly, punched me in the face, and told me to leave her kid along! I noticed two more kids in the car. I stopped at the police station and reported the incident. I know the intervention helped that time because the police knew exactly who it was, and informed child protective services.
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      Nov 30 2013: Colleen, On behalf of those children, thank you. And all of your comments about being so busy trying to fix what is wrong is again something that my husband has consistently told me. My grandmother used to carry a plastic bag with her and pick up trash that she saw on the street. When she took me to the park, if she saw s bottle, or a big stick that a child can get hurt with, she would remove it. So, this is something that was just in me for as long as I can remember, that if you see something wrong, do something. However, since I was a child, times have surely changed. And it is so true that there just aren't enough hours in the day to try to fix all of the things that I see that bother me. I should prioritize the things that matter the most, (like a child being abused for example) and learn to let the other stuff go as a matter of the times changing.
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        Nov 30 2013: Thank you for the kind feedback Amy:>)

        That is exactly why your question is challenging Amy....when do we speak up, and when do we stand back??? How can we EVER resolve the challenges we have in our world???

        Each individual cannot do it alone, and when we remember that there are billions of people in our world, many of whom are genuinely working toward change, it sometimes seems like the task is less daunting.

        The idea that I CAN do something was planted in me as a child as well Amy. I agree that prioritizing things helps. For example, my father was violent and abusive, and I had a desire to "fix" that situation in our world, so when time finally permitted, I volunteered in a shelter for women and children. From there, I volunteered with the dept. of corrections facilitating programs with offenders of violence and abuse. There were several offshoots of this theme.....I facilitated workshops for women, guest lectured and facilitated discussion groups at the university on violence and abuse in relationships, etc. etc. My focus for a period of time (about 8 years) was violence and abuse in our world. When I witnessed some situations, like what I described above, of course I addressed it because it felt natural to me.

        As individuals, it helps to be clear with our "self"....what is our priority at certain times in our lives.....how much time do we have to dedicate to our goal....etc.

        We cannot change everything by ourselves, and this has helped to guide me.....
        "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference"
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    Nov 25 2013: The phrase is attributed to an old African proverb. The rearing of a child requires the collective efforts of the community, i.e. all those the child comes into contact with. This speaks to the need for support and positive influences. Think of it as education ... Any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational ... so we learn from school, church, interaction, events, professionals from all walks, and parents are teachers too. I live in a small town ... a few years ago our children could leave in the morning and not come home until nightfall .. example ... and with a few phone calls I could map their day. We fed and looked after all the kids friends ... we all helped to "raise' "our" kids. This is a part of our culture and goes back to tribal influence.

    By reading the above and considering the cultural aspect ... would you think that we want to assist others ... that when we see a event that is against the best interests of that person ... we want to provide guidance. Because we have grown away from that "communal" living the urge is still there but the "modern" society says that no longer exists ... thus a internal conflict ... frustration.

    Amy, as you seem to be a caring person and really want to help others ... may I suggest Big Brothers / Sisters ... CASA (Court Appointed Special Assistant) and like groups. There millions who could benefit from our involvement.

    You and I cannot change the world but with work and love we can make it better for those we come in contact with.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Nov 25 2013: I expect there is a simple evolutionary explanation.

    Mammal adults likely are instinctively protective of their own kids and often kids more generally. This explanation may account for why we naturally are concerned with behaviors that may harm children.

    Animals also instinctively protect themselves and often others in the tribe. This instinct may account for why people are bothered by behaviors that seem threatening to them and others like them.

    People vary in their assessment of what actually is threatening and how broadly they think of their "tribe." Some worry only about their families or some small circle of people they consider to be significantly connected to them with bonds of love or responsibility. Others care authentically about the well being of a much broader range of people.

    Sometimes people worry about something that they fear has an indirect effect. For example, people may fear that someone's behavior is indicative of a cultural phenomenon they find threatening. Someone might be bothered by the rampant spreading of propaganda or misinformation, as one case, even if he is not personally fooled by it, because lots of people believing misinformation does not bode well for good social or public decision-making in the years to come and in ways with potentially widespread or universal effect.

    There is an attribute of personality that is called by researchers in psychology "thick boundaries" or "thin boundaries." Those with thick boundaries have much more tendency to recognize and be bothered by behaviors that are outside of narrow norms than those with thin boundaries. So personality also figures into what people are prepared to accept in others.
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    Dec 11 2013: @Fritzie......Thanks !
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    Dec 9 2013: Hi again Mr. Notgiven, As Harold Jezek mentioned to you perhaps you better use quotes when quoting, as not everyone is as sharp as you are with biblical references. I still have no clue how it pertains to my question, as I have never claimed to be perfect in this or any other post. If you read my profile, you will see that. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for you as your profile is non existent Mr. "Notgiven".
  • Dec 9 2013: None of those items bother me, I am not a drone of enforced society normality, I respect they have their choices.

    Now if someone's hitting a kid or trying to hit me or invading nor respecting my rights, well that's a different game.
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      Dec 9 2013: Hi Steven, I am only making a guess here, that you are probably much younger that I am. I say this because so many of the behaviors that seem to have an effect of me were not as common as during the time I grew up. If you are raised with certain behaviors as being common to you, then of course it is so much easier to adapt. I just don't want to become one of those old ladies that days "Oh, kids these days....", instead I am trying to adapt to what is now "the norm". so I appreciate your comment very much and I hope that you stay tough and strong.
      • Dec 10 2013: actually I'm probably a serious amount of years older than you. :)

        But given that, I recognize these things. 1) I was young once 2) people through whatever kind of self expression, need to find themselves. 3) For some that can be learned, for other that needs experimentation.

        How can I justify criticizing people because they have orange hair, or metal studs, or smoke, or ...

        I dont, I only judge by whats in their hearts and by their actions. And particularly those who take action against those who maybe defenseless.

        I dont think you need to adapt to the norm, i think you need to find who you are, when you do that you'll have confidence in yourself and others. You'll see not as "these days" and the differences, but rather as just different people on a path, who are expressing themselves, trying to find themselves, just like you.
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          Dec 10 2013: Thanks Steven, Your words are very meaningful and relevant and I too, do not want to judge anyone for their self expression. I too was a teenager and young adult once and was told to "straighten up", and had no idea what that meant. What causes a knot in my gut are not orange hair, in fact I think that is great if you can get away with it, especially if you are in a creative or artistic job. Hair color can be changed tomorrow if became an issue but terrible behavior may be more of a challenge in "straightening up", and I still don't know exactly what that means but here is an idea.... I was talking about people that will not give up their seat for an elderly woman, people that cut in line without any regard for others time, people that show up work for late four times a week when there is such a high unemployment rate, people that would kick a dog, people that would smack a child, people that curse out loud or fight in public without any regard for the presence of children, people that would see someone in danger and not at least call 911. My dream is that we could all do a better job in taking another under our wing, and showing them ways, from all that we have learned as older adults (you and I) so that they don't lose that job, lose that child, get arrested and waste their lives, or get assaulted or abused by someone that does judge them. I am in no way a hater. My goal in this idea was to express my concern that nobody pays attention to each other and step up when they see something that makes that knot. Walking away, shaking your head or saying "that's a shame" will not fix anything. Giving a helping hand and offering to share a ride to work or lend an ear to someone who is frustrated may have a deep effect on how they behave in the future. I hope that this is what you meant by "whats in their hearts and by their actions" And for those that are defenseless, I agree wholeheartedly that we should all do more to help them. Thanks Steven.
      • Dec 10 2013: All we have ironically on this earth is time. Nothing else. So the only important thing is how we use it. Interesting all we can ever use it for is experience, because there is nothing else.

        Now while you talk of "straightening up", I've worked with many young people, and the when show the time and effort that values their contribution, they do respect that and do look at things differently. ie straighten up.

        But simultaneously, we are in this decade at a population level that is twice was it was 50 years ago. Society too has changed, things move faster. Just look at the news, not only is there a presenter but one often two ticker tapes too. So we focus less. We have less time. And we are concerned less. Take a movie too, when films were originally released they stayed at the cinema for a year, now they are lucky to stay on a month. And the same is true for TV, while we all used to talk about the same program, now with 400 channels we've all be come - fragmented.

        Ironically it takes a huge event to make people realize what they have lost, I remember 9/11 not for the carnage, but for the hope it gave, as people awoke to the true realization of what was and is important, others.

        Unfortunately, as you write, I too see that, that reminder has been forgotten, as everyone jumped on the treadmill again.

        Same is true for Sandyhook, it hits the news and just as quickly it disappears, we never see or know the consequences, specifically in the long term. That is reflected in the way people act, have less time, less concern and society as a whole is less connected with each other.

        I'd suggest that you do what you can - as I stated below, don't let others actions define who you are. If you want to speak out - speak out, if you want to be involved be - involved.

        And if that makes you to your family emotional - be emotional. Because no matter what movies you like you're only engaged which characters that show emotions. And life imitates art. So therefore learn from art.
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    Dec 8 2013: Since this discussion is to end soon, I wanted to share what I have learned from all of the feedback, First, my question might have been better stated that Why are we "curious" or "concerned", as opposed to "bothered", as it relates to others behavior. I found that many times, the way we behave is nothing more that what we have mimicked from our parents, and is simply the only thing we know. On the other hand, there are those that have never had someone to give them kind and caring advice and a little encouragement or cheering on to improve the way they handle things. This would not only alleviate them from standing out in a crowd, but may make their lives more manageable and calm if they felt that they had a grip on some difficult or stressful tasks. Lastly, I have gathered that sometimes there are issues that we have no clue about, like illness, grief, or stress that will make a person act impatient or careless as their mind is not in a good place. For these people, I stand my ground that we should all take interest in one another, as a little care, help and patience would go a long way to make their day easier. We have all had those days, and we have all longed for that little bit of understanding when we are not at our best, so I will personally start the new year with a new outlook on what I see that "bothers" me, and try to help when I can. Rather than get frustrated, I will offer a kind word or a smile and hope that it repeats itself down the road.
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      Dec 8 2013: Jason, I suppose that was because of the "hypocrite" phrase. You'd better put it inside quotes to avoid misunderstanding.
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          Dec 8 2013: Jason, Apparently my starting this conversation has "bothered" you. This goes to show exactly what I am taking about, so thank you for vindicating my point so clearly.
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    Dec 7 2013: Probably because we all have our personal set of norms of what we consider good or bad. We all, also have a certain amount of tolerance.
    Now if somebody violates our "Norms" and this violation reaches our tolerance threshold, then we might react with annoyance.
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  • Dec 2 2013: I don't think it's as simple as what we hate in others is a reflection of what we hate in ourselves. I think that's true sometimes, but I also think that it could be unresolved anger about one's own upbringing. A woman who desperately wants children but is unable to have them, might be angry because there is a sense of injustice that this seemingly bad parent can have children while she, believing she would be a better parent, cannot have them.
    I like to wear high heels and I frequently encounter women who like to criticize my choice of footwear by advising me of all the horrible things that will happen to my feet as a result. I fully recognize that it is more about their own feelings about the shoes, than anything to do with me. They often offer up reason they would never wear them or "can't" wear them. Which leads me to believe they would like to wear them - but for some reason feel they "can't" or "shouldn't".
    Ultimately, they only way to know why something bothers you is to spend some time analyzing it yourself. Every case is different. There is no over arching reason.
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    Nov 30 2013: Hi there

    So I am guessing that your question asks "why do we have an opposing point of view to what happens?"
    My guess would be because we would not do that ourselves, and that we would like the others to do what we do, because we think that we do what is right, and the others not only do not do the right thing, but they have no right to do it. So I take this to be and Egocentric way of looking at things. We can ancourage by example, but do not have the right to expect others to be forced into living our ways of life.
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      Nov 29 2013: Hmm. Well most men are annoyed when their girlfriends or wives eye handsome looking men. That doesn't stop themselves eying gorgeous looking women. How will you explain that?
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        Nov 29 2013: Your example Pabitra, seems to support the well known theory that some behaviors in others may remind us of some behaviors (or potential behaviors) in ourselves that we don't like very much.


        EDIT:
        No reply option for your comment Fritzie..."My guess would be it was used handbag from a thrift store. I would ask myself what conditions might prevent a person from taking the time to shop like you do or cook like you do. Sometimes there is an explanation other than what you assume".

        Good point Fritzie, because assumptions on our part can often lead to judgments, perhaps with inaccurate information (based on our assumptions). When assumptions are made without accurate information, we may feel like we have to try to change the situation.

        The mantra I like to use seems to fit this situation as well?
        ""Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference"

        Perhaps it is wisdom, from which we can learn NOT to assume and judge?
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          Nov 30 2013: Hi Colleen, Your comment really stuck a nerve in me. My husband and I were in the grocery store about a week ago and we were very careful to check prices, get the items that were on sale and use coupons if possible. When we got to the register we were behind a woman who had a cart overflowing with groceries many of which were high priced junk food or prepared items. I noticed that she did not pick up the specials and did not used coupons nor the store discount card. But what she did do was reach into her Coach bag and pay for all of these groceries with food stamps. So, while I was careful with watching every penny, she just threw whatever she desired in the cart, as she didn't work to pay for it, which brings me to your comment. On the way home, I was ranting about how my husband should make believe that we separated and I should apply for food stamps. His reply was "absolutely not!" He said that he was proud to support us and if we cheated the system to obtain these benefits, than we would be no better that that woman in front of us. He said he could not live with that and he said hat he knew I could not live that way either. I think the problem that we have is that we are lowering our standards to make things easier and get what other get, albeit wrongfully. It is far easier to break our standards as opposed to fighting for them. And I truly believe that when we break them, whatever bad behavior we allowed ourselves to lower our standards for is just not worth it.
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          Dec 1 2013: My guess would be it was used handbag from a thrift store. I would ask myself what conditions might prevent a person from taking the time to shop like you do or cook like you do. Sometimes there is an explanation other than what you assume.
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          Dec 1 2013: Yes, Colleen. I notice one cannot always tell whether another used the store discount card, as there is typically the option of just typing in your phone number. I also recall several people I know who switched to more prepared food when they became full-time caretakers of an elderly relative with Alzheimers, on top of their other responsibilities.
        • Dec 10 2013: Very right Colleen not to judge, as the lady may not have bought it at a thrift store at all.

          It may well be the case that one day, a long time ago she was able to afford it, but for her those days are gone.

          Maybe that's why she keeps it, as a reminder of happier days, in the hope that one day they will come back again, until then that bag is all she has.
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          Nov 30 2013: Chris, it used to bother me once, but for a different reason. I felt worried about the taste of my partner. Eying is more than just a look, if you get my drift.

          'It matters where she is looking for her appetite, I don't cook fast food at home.'
          - Wise elderly uncle.
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    Nov 29 2013: I think because other people's thinking, behavior, habit strongly go against yours and you have found them or you have been hurt by them either on physical or on mental. Out of sight, out of mind. Sometimes we can choose to step away from them and sometimes we have to stand up to them to speak up for our rights or belief.
  • Nov 29 2013: I believe the statement about needing a village is true but unfortunately, we are no longer in village mode. In a village/small town there seems to be a social contract that everyone knows everyone and seems to be able to discuss anything with anyone in the village. I believe that social contract does not exist. Only in extreme conditions do we seem to act.

    I, also, feel sometimes we are bothered by other's actions because of our own prejudices and sometimes we wish we could do it.
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    Nov 26 2013: Because it is so difficult not to judge by our morals and to believe that 'is' by what we see.

    You could not have spotted a sadistic yet non smoking mother in public if this mother 'behaved' accordingly to your basic expectations, yet was a nightmare to both of her small children at home.

    Certainly, if you have two equally nice mothers, the one smoking is damaging her children more. Yet there are so many variables under which smoking could become the smallest of the children problems.

    Nevertheless, any society, any generation within those societies has to define, correct, improve and to argue about their basic morals and norms, by which what bothers us in others got to be addressed by ourselves.

    Surprisingly, addressing this in an constructive way seems to be the most difficult to most of us. And usually the hurdle of hesitation is only crossed in anger, which in itself is not the best situation to expect positive results at the end of it. And because it takes guts to address critique in calm temper, most of our criticism we have in others is usually spread everywhere but to the one who causes it.

    When I noticed this inconsequent behavior myself, I thought about it and came up with a simple yet highly effective rule, to which I live accordingly since.

    Whenever other peoples behavior bothers me, I go up to them and address my issue and this as asap, so anger doesn't corrode deep and my temper remains controllable. When I don't have the guts to do that, than there is no reason for me to be bothered in return, as it doesn't seem to have enough significance for me to leave my comfort zone. This way, I have to blame me first, when nothing changes yet I still feel bothered, which either gets me going or keeps my finger pointing at me. So far, it works quite smoothly and stress free ... :o)

    I think it does take a village to raise children and being a smoker myself I do neither hide me smoking in front of children, nor does I smoke in closed rooms among them.
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      Nov 26 2013: Lejan, I appreciate your sharing your rule that you live by with me. You are so right in that if we do nothing, our anger can build. I love the idea of watching over one another as a community and as caring fellow human beings, but I'm just finding it difficult to find that fine line between helping and interfering. There are many that need help and would appreciate it, but are too proud to ask or embarrassed to look weak. And then there are those that would simply be insulted if we asked if they needed help. I would hate to refrain from offering help for fear of a negative reaction and miss an opportunity to reach out to someone who would welcome it. The smoking mom was only an example that sparked the idea for the question, but there are instances every day that I'm sure you also have seen where you just feel that a little caring could go a long way. I have the feeling that you would be a good person to behave in that positive direction.
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        Nov 27 2013: The questions is, Amy, whom are we really going to 'help' if our motivation to act is based on negative feelings, such as frustration? It deems to me, that our main concern then is actually ourselves and less the other person.

        The driver in front of us, who is not paying attention to the road, is slowing US down and is obviously very fine him/herself with the pace he/she is going.

        Tattoos or piercings may not resonate with our aesthetics, yet apparently do with those who wear them.

        When our neighbors kids have holes in their shoes, we don't actually care for those kids if we expect their parents do spend their money more wisely, because they obviously choose not to do that, for whatever reason.

        To me, helping others should be free of any intention and expectations, as otherwise we would already interfere in our interest. And on this we can only listen in ourselves to find the answer. And even politeness should have the same unintentional cause.

        We usually know when it is appropriate to help an old lady to cross a busy street, because our motivation to do so is not based on frustration. Yet help it is and help she may have needed.

        And if we would really care for our neighbors children, we wouldn't care for their parents, because we know those children had no say in choosing them. And what keeps us to get them a pair of new shoes every once in a while? The idea, that our money would buy their parents more beer? Well, if this is what keeps us, then those children are not of our concern at all, but an excuse to judge over the alcohol abuse of their parents. In fact, we expect them to change for us to feel better for their children.

        Quite a selfish motivation, I would think, yet easily detectable by our 'negative' emotional response, which we don't have if our help is given freely.

        A more funny example for intentional help and/or friendliness I found in many man towards pretty woman, which to me is understandable, yet less of value in its intention.
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          Nov 27 2013: Lejan, Wow, your comments are very thought provoking and I completely agree with you that help should be without strings attached and kindness should be given freely and from the heart. I truly want to keep my thoughts away from being judgmental, as I am far from perfect. My hopes with this conversation is to clarify why I get such a knot in the stomach when I see something that goes against what I have either been taught or what I grew up with as the norm. Perhaps I am just getting a little up there in age and don't understand the younger generation. Times have certainly changed since I was a kid and perhaps I am just having difficulty rolling with the changes. That could very well be the cause of the frustration that I feel on the few issues that I mentioned - which is that I did not adapt well to the changes of society. I always felt that if i did, I would be lowering my standards and giving up on trying to behave in the way that my parents and grandparents told me was proper. So I hope that you can understand that my motivation is not based on negative feelings for others, but rather my own lack of evolving with the changes of modern society.
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      Nov 25 2013: Jason, Actually, the mom that smokes while pregnant is not taking great care of her kids as they are subjected to second hand smoke, and the parent that puts their desire to tie one on before tending to the needs of their children is selfish. Your comments suggest that I want everyone to think or act as I do, but I never suggested that. My question was not whether others actions are right or not, but rather why they seem to bother me. Of course everyone has imperfections, but my concern is that when I turn and look away from something that I truly feel is wrong in my gut, I feel that I could have or should have made an effort to at least try to help. There are many people who behave in ways that are harmful to them simply because they don't know any other way, or don't have a support system to encourage them to deal with their unhealthy habits in a more productive manner. There are lots of kids who were never taught manners, or kindness or courtesy, and if we step up and take them under our wing, we might just help them in getting through their problems in a more productive and healthy manner and in return, someday they might do the same for others.
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    Nov 25 2013: We can't control feeling torn apart when other peoples’ behavior bothers us cause that's our real feeling.
    We always expect others behave be good around us.
    We should try to put it down. Let it free.Be yourself.
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    Nov 25 2013: Because we expect others to behave the way we do ourselves
  • Nov 25 2013: Others behaviors bother us to the extent that we want to believe that we are God.
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    Nov 25 2013: I think that society gave some pattern of behavior, that counts like normal or advisable. So we live with that pattern in our head. Differences are caused by the personal characteristics-the tendency of someone to behave in some inappropriate way(watched from the perspective of advisable behavior), families- the pattern, our parents give us, home upbringing...
    I have the problem you described, with every behavior that passes the border of normal and grows into an exaggeration. Every kind of misdemeanor is bother to me (alcohol, promiscuity, drugs....)
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      Nov 25 2013: Jelena, I think you are dead on with the pattern of behavior theory. My concern is that we as a society have progressively lowered our standard of what is acceptable behavior including poor manners, poor work ethics, lack of kindness or courtesy, impatience and horrible use of the English language. Perhaps I am bothered because the border of normal that you mentioned seems to have grown so far from what I grew up with. I just feel that if I conform to accept it, I am selling myself short.
      • Dec 10 2013: I think you both need to understand, you are letting those people make the decisions for you, viz your frustrations. But don't worry about it, it's very common, sometimes we assume far too much.

        Someone for instance is rude, we get perturbed, or yell back. Someone has weird clothes we stare. Someone show's true affection we confuse it with ulterior motives. Someone shows impatience but we don't know that they are a terminally ill, and value every second. Someone who show's lack of kindness because maybe they were abused as a child and so it was never taught them. Someone who abuses alcohol because they can't see a way past their problems. Someone who's promiscuous because maybe it's the only feeling of love and connection, they have ever known.

        It takes a lot of inner fortitude to say, no matter what the circumstances, I will not let your actions define who i am.

        Solider on...