They fascinate us, those prickly things, like cacti, hedgehogs, or stiff brushes. They draw you in, just for a little touch, just to see how sharp and pointy it really is. And if you're anything like me there has been at least one time in your life where you have pressed your finger against the tip of that prickly thing. But only pressed until the threat of puncturing the skin became too great. There you paused a moment, felt the sharpness of the point against your sensitive skin, and then let go.
This came to mind after a discussion I had the other day about an acquaintance. My friend described this acquaintance – let's call her George – as prickly. I found it completely fitting. My time of working with George has happily come to an end but the memory of her personality sticks with me. We can learn a lot about ourselves through our interactions with prickly people.
George had very definite views, something I admired about her. That drew me in. What I found though was that George had little flexibility with her ideas. So I pressed, just a little, with my views. The response would be quick, often terse, with little room for compromise or discussion. And when I pressed a little harder George would ignore anything I had said and press her points. I realized after a while that despite my reams of type explaining my ideas the short answer was that if it didn't fit George it didn't count.
Could it be she was afraid of being hurt? I don’t know. But there are many people that carry an external shell, like prickles, so that you cannot reach their soft inner core and hurt them. Those people need your compassion. You may never be able to relate to them on anything but a superficial level but you can hold them in a loving way in your thoughts.
With compassion you reduce the possibility of puncturing your sensitive self with judgmental or angry thoughts. Compassion elevates you, lifting you up, and the world of ‘Georges’ along with you.
George also reminds me of the importance of letting go. Having pressed enough times you have to decide what is really important to you. Do you really need to have your opinions heard even if you have to shout? Do you really want to continue an interaction where there is no give-and-take? Do you want to stand up for yourself or be dismissed by the less considerate? It's a choice you make.
The variety of textures available in the world also comes to mind when I think of George. Prickly may be fascinating but it’s not going to keep me interested for long. Neither would all soft. Your interactions with all types of personalities are how you develop your views, even shape and change your ideas. Keep a balanced collection in your world.
Prickly people are all around. Be gracious as you press. Learn from them, and then let go.