Last night I learned just how much trying to impress people is hurting me. We have some people coming to visit, and it seems that every time I know people are coming over that I enter on a frantic cleaning frenzy. It appears the underlying belief behind this is, ‘the place needs to be presentable to visitors.’ A harmless enough thought, you might think. Well, let me tell you, I don’t recall the last time I had such hateful, violent thoughts, the last time I experienced such rage. Good thing I was alone! And all because I thought the place should be presentable, and believed it wasn’t.
To begin with, who am I to know what presentable is to another set of eyes? It is entirely subjective: one man’s mess is another man’s home sweet home. So the basic assumption that I know what presentable is provides the fundamental hole in my entire belief.
Beyond that though, is the complete dishonesty of it. Dishonesty always seems to make me uncomfortable. And yet it is the driving factor behind the thought: ‘the place needs to be presentable to visitors’ translates to ‘I need visitors to think we live differently than we do.’ Ouch. It is very painful to try to be something I’m not, to present an image that doesn’t exist.
And yet, it comes to me that even without this evidently insane belief, that I would still clean up, if not as fastidiously. But without the thought, I would clean up for our guests’ comfort, not for their impressions. And helping people experience comfort is a form of kindness, and kindness gives me comfort too.