It takes a bit of work to blow up a balloon. The rubber resists efforts to stretch and some folks find it hard to blow that hard. Then there’s the whole tying up thing; it requires a remarkable amount of dexterity to stretch the end of the balloon and wrap it around your fingers and pull the little end through so that it’s a nice tight knot ensuring that the balloon stays inflated after all that effort. It’s worth it, however. You can’t be sad when you have a balloon to play with.
Deflating a balloon, by contrast, is remarkably easy. It takes no effort at all to stick a pin into the rubber and ruin the hard work that created it. No effort at all. Just prick the side with a needle and away it goes, loudly and instantaneously. For some people that’s half the fun of balloons. For most people, however, especially young ones who tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves, it’s no fun at all. In fact, it’s just plain mean.
Many of us have a sense of self-confidence that’s as hard to inflate and as easy to deflate as a balloon. We like to think the best of others but don’t always do unto ourselves as we would do to our neighbour in that regard. And I think that most of us have to work a bit harder to find joy and happiness than to delve into sorrow and sadness. At the same time, it doesn’t take a lot to blow it all away; just a sharp little word or phrase and our joy or our self-confidence bursts, albeit with a whimper or sigh rather than a loud “Pop!”
Some folks are natural-born “Deflators” whether by intent or ignorance they often speak in pin prick and needle jabs. Their reaction to a positive suggestion is a litany of reasons why it’s not such a hot idea. Their sarcasm is more “scarcasm” than playful banter. Your cup may be half full, but they’re going to make sure the water is dirty, or to tip it over. You might have had something nice happen to you, but it’s not nearly as nice as what happened to them, and they’re not going to let you forget it.
Deflators aren’t necessarily mean or spiteful; more often than not they’re simply thoughtless; not uncaring, but simply unaware of their negativity. Sometimes they think that they’re “telling it like is” or “just being honest” or even that their words are really kind and loving, but usually there’s a wide gulf between what they perceive as helpful and what actually might benefit another person. Honesty is always the best policy, except for those times when it trumps love and kindness, in which case silence is an even better policy.
Being a deflator is easy. It takes a little more work to be an inflator, to be someone that helps build others up. or to fill their cups nearly to overflowing, or to simply appreciate their joy. Sometimes it’s hard to see others being happy when we’re in the dumps or to think of something nice to say when we can’t even say something nice about ourselves. It can be hard to be an inflator, but it’s worth it; there are enough folks waiting to poke another’s joy away; we need more people who are ready and willing to encourage and to spread a little happiness in the world.