I recently ran into a a situation where a person in the family who shall remain nameless only because they are older than I am and although this person in my opinion doesn’t deserve my respect as a result of recent actions, I’m going to do the right thing and not mention who they are here and our relationship. So the stages we go through in life in my opinion, should always reflect continual self improvement. Some of which as I’ve discussed before in this blog are the ability to recognize when words have caused others pain and to apologize for causing that pain. So although the words inflicted upon me, by this "senior person" were the insinuation that since I am not able to see my grandchild again in less than a year, I was “less than” a GREAT grandmother. The exact wording was, “If you were any kind of grandmother you would see her before that. I simply don't believe you won't see your granddaughter within a year from now.”
To say the least, these were very offensive and hurtful words. Due to having to work for living, as I am not independently wealthy, and having adult children who have to work and can’t afford to take time off due to the child being in neonatal Intensive Care, this simply isn't an option. We take great use of technology and although my granddaughter is in the hospital, I probably have more photos and videos in her first two months than other grandparents did with old photographs back in the day!
Facetime and Skype are two great technological advances that secure the ability to interact with the family as well and see her progress. Along with “live photos.”.These are photos that are taken on iPhones that show the second before and the second after a photograph, so you get see your grandchild moving! Its so Harry Potter like and cool!
I took off work, and flew down the day after she was here, the reality was that I was unable to touch, hold or kiss Anastasia as she was in very serious condition. The germs that could have been passed although scrubbing before entering the unit, are insurmountable in this vulnerable state. She is still not home yet, so I am unable to hold touch or kiss her now even if I did live closer to her.
I attempted to resolve this conflict by trying to call this person, the call went to voice mail and was not returned. I then was sent an email that stated this person didn’t feel they should have to apologize for those mean, hurtful words. So there were two choices I had to make that go back to those days of therapy! 1) Did this person ever act in a manner that was adult like and respectful to me, really no, so why was I hoping she would and we could work it out? This was my false sense of hopefulness. It has been eight years! 2) Would it be advantageous to try to work this out and apologize. I did apologize on the voice mail only to be told if I didn't do anything wrong why did I feel the need to apologize. So as I say, it was like pissing up a rope. I had nothing to gain anymore from this constant trying to please this person only to be treated with disrespect.
I've come to realize that there is a name for this type of processing of the things I do and things the people "close and blood related" do. Its called the horns and hallo effect. I have fulfilled the "horns" category for this person and there is absolutely nothing I can do that can change this until that person realizes their irrational thoughts and changes. Ultimately I severed the relationship. It works for me.
Horns and Halo Effect
1. (Psychology) a tendency to allow one's judgement of another person, esp in a job interview, to be unduly influenced by an unfavourable (horns) or favourable (halo) first impression based on appearances. As Joshua Kennon discusses on his website: http://www.joshuakennon.com/mental-model-horns-effect-and-halo-effect/
One of the most powerful, and potentially harmful, mental models you will encounter in your life is known as the horns effect and halo effect. It can cloud your judgment, and because it is closely related to the mere association mental model, has the power to cause you to make sub-standard decisions or hold irrational beliefs. You must train yourself to actively fight against it.
What is the horns effect and halo effect? It is a cognitive bias that causes you to allow one trait, either good (halo) or bad (horns), to overshadow other traits, behaviors, actions, or beliefs.
The best way to protect ourselves from this is as he states: is to always adhere to one rule:
Every idea must stand on its own merit regardless of who proposes it. He continues: A good idea is a good idea even if it is proposed by the town drunk. A bad idea is a bad idea, even if it is proposed by the town hero. Never forget that and act accordingly. This is one of the reasons that mature thinkers don’t take offense when someone attacks their positions or ideas – they are not extensions of the person, but rather must stand on their own.
There is nothing I enjoy more than assaulting my own beliefs from all sides to see if it can withstand the force. That approach is why I get more and more rational with each passing year, and my real-world results reflect that. There is nothing original in this approach. Anyone is free to adopt it.
I hope this year, that I can do this with everyone, as there may come a point where even my beloved granddaughter will look into my eyes and do something non halo like! My judgement would be clouded by this halo effect, I would never want to think she may be less than totally honest with me, however I must as a rational person be able to understand this may be a possibility. I also should be able to as a wiser, older, adult be able to allow people who have ideas and concerns that I may not agree with, be able to carry an adult conversation and be able to hear when I have hurt that person and grow from this event.
Its too bad this person in my “former life” can’t grow mentally or emotionally. I had warned this person a year ago, that if the behavior continued, I would sever the relationship. I know I’m better for eliminating them, as I never want to have this happen within a family. I do realize however until adults can be mindful and take accountability for their actions and words, this relationship is unhealthy. We should want to be able to apologize for the sake of the relationship, regardless of my age. Too often our elders need to be reminded, they can also cause more pain than most as people look up to them. And its really a shame to see our elders act like this. It is down right embarrassing.
The golden rule, is grandmothers don't attack other grandmothers for their ability to grandparent!