Two sides of a coin

Arthur is a 3-year-old tricoloured Border Collie. His guardian describes him as ‘interesting’ and ‘contrary’. When he is with his guardian and his family, he is the soppiest, most relaxed and happiest dog in the world. He plays, barks excited woofs, and is as gentle as he can be with his two-year-old young guardian. There is no hint of viciousness, ferocity, or distrust at all.

However, when he goes on walks and sees other people, especially when they do not have a dog with them, Arthur turns into the doggie version of Mr Hyde. He would bark from a distance and snarl if they should approach closer. It probably is the ‘protective’ mode you see in some breeds. He just wants his pack safe.

So, Arthur is a dog with two personalities, depending on the situation. Have you got two personalities? Have you met someone with opposing personalities? I believe there are polar opposites to traits in people. For every trait a person displays, she (or he) is capable of exhibiting the opposite trait to the same degree. For example, if someone is very generous usually, given the right circumstances, this person will show the same degree of stinginess. If someone appears to be nonchalant and uncaring, she (or he) can show the caring side under the right circumstances. The list goes on, like being disorganized and organized, sensitive and insensitive, happy, and sad.

You almost wonder when a so-called usually ‘happy’ person appears to be happy all the time, it is likely that this person may be hiding or processing some great pain and unhappiness in her life. It would be a folly to think that this person will always be happy and have no concept of sadness. Have you not been surprised before by the most stingy person in your family or workplace making the most generous of donation when needed? Or the most seemingly simple-minded person comes up with the most profound appropriate thing to say when the occasion arises?

What about you? Have you surprised yourself thinking that it is not like you to do something and you find yourself doing it? Have you succeeded in something before that you never thought you ever could? Or vice versa, there was something that you knew was a sure win, a definitely completed task, something you can dig your teeth into with gusto but failed to do so because you lost interest along the way.

Perhaps you need to understand that you are not who you think you are and neither are others. There is so much more to every individual than what you saw or understood in the past. No one ever sees every facet of another so how can you be sure what that person is like. It is way too easy to draw conclusions about others and presume their thoughts, actions, and behaviours. If you do so, you may run into trouble as their actions may surprise you.

Another confounding factor is that you are capable of learning. Others are capable of learning. When you learn, you may change. You are no longer the same person. That applies to others as well. It is way too presumptuous to think you can predict an outcome based on past experiences. You may be right but you may also be wrong. Remember you are not your own thoughts and neither are others.

Perhaps what may be wise is to keep an open mind, never ASSUME (you may know the story behind that word!) anything for certain and keep the faith. Being aware and cautious may allow you to receive more input and results that may be unexpected but because you were open to them, you can see them.

Remember, you may be more bi-polar than you think. (I say this with utmost respect and compassion if you are have been diagnosed or have been affected by someone with bipolar syndrome. I apologize if I have offended.) Understand yourself and learn to accept and love both aspects of your traits.

Me? I just make sure I have a dog with me when I meet Arthur in the park!

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F Scott Fitzgerald

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