Let the Hundredth Person Go

olinmillerA couple of years ago, a woman emailed me and asked how she could stay on the Facebook page without seeing the posts. She said she wanted to see the yoga-related information, but not the “inspirational” writings, which she did not like. Of course that didn’t feel good, and my mouth fell into an “O”, but not everyone is going to dig us, right? I told her she could simply unlike the page, and just go directly to the website for classes, but she wrote back again, and said she wanted to stay on the page, but really didn’t want to see the writing. I told her I couldn’t navigate or control her Facebook feed, and I was pretty sure her best bet was just to unlike the page, or stay on it, and ignore the writing.

She wrote back a third time to reiterate how much she didn’t like my writing, and said she’d figure out what to do. At that point, I was kind of laughing and shaking my head, but I was also intrigued. What would inspire someone to take the time to find my email to repeatedly let me know they didn’t like my writing? So I went to her page, and discovered that she was a writer. Clearly she was in some kind of pain, and wanted to share that with me. Perhaps she wanted to lash out with her frustration and see if she could make me feel badly, too. After the initial sting, I just felt badly for her. I ended up writing back a final time, letting her know that I’d received her message clearly, and that it seemed important to her that I understand how much she didn’t like my writing, and I wished her the best with her own endeavors and I left it at that. Sometimes people feel trapped or angry or like life is unfair and other people are getting breaks they deserve. Sometimes people feel so hopeless or frustrated or lost, they just flail. It’s not about you, you just represent something. You can have compassion when someone is suffering like that, and I hope you do, but you can’t save anyone. We each have to do our own journey.

There are a few things that are important to remember. We are all accountable for the energy we spread as we move through the world. We’re either adding to the love, or we’re adding to the pain. Of course, when we’re suffering, we’re probably going to have a difficult time, and that’s okay. I’m not suggesting you have to go around smiling for the world when you’re hurting. The more you open yourself, the more deeply you’re going to feel things, but try not to get bogged down in someone else’s nastiness or rage. That’s no reflection on you, that’s solely a reflection on the other party. The only reason you’ d ever let an insult “land” is if part of you feared it might be true. Of course we all have our insecurities and doubts, and we all have healing to do. If someone close to you kindly holds up a mirror and suggests maybe you aren’t doing your best, I think it’s important to take a good look, but people who are intentionally trying to bring you down are reflecting where they’re at; they’re down. You don’t have to joint them.

Generally speaking, try not to worry about what people might be thinking of you, because most of the time they aren’t! Just keep your eye on the ball. The “ball” being whatever it is that feeds your soul and sets you on fire. Your time and energy are the most precious gifts you get, and they’re also the most meaningful ones you can offer. Help people in pain whenever you can, but don’t squander your gifts on people who are cruel and punishing. Screw that. I mean, let’s all hope that anyone who’s full of venom will find some relief and some help and some healing, but in the meantime, let’s also go about the business of making the world a kinder, gentler place.

If there are one hundred people in a room, and ninety-nine of them love you, give your energy to them. The one person who doesn’t get you or understand you or like you or dig your vibe is not a challenge for you to overcome. You don’t have to chase or cajole or convince or dance like a monkey to make people like you. Do you like everyone? It’s fine. It would be nice if we could all be respectful, but not everyone is up to that, and that’s fine, too. It’s not like it’s fun to move through the world with a huge chip on your shoulder. You don’t have to participate in carrying anyone else’s chip. Just be you. That’s enough, and that’s a lot.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

10 thoughts on “Let the Hundredth Person Go”

  1. During a very difficult time for me, your writing was a lifeline and a reassurance that I was not alone in my feelings . I appreciated the empathy and the empowerment offered ; taking it to heart and reflecting on the part I play in creating / prolonging my emotional pain. From confusion comes growth, thank you

  2. It seems to happen all the time Ally in different ways. We project onto others the aspects of ourselves that we need to address within ourselves. That’s what she was doing. It really wasn’t about you or your writing, you were simply a catalyst for something inside of her to address.
    Next time it could be my haircut or the car you drive that sets someone off … let them be.
    Val x

    1. Totally agree, Val. It’s always good to sit up and pay attention when we feel repelled or outraged by someone else, because it’s often a reflection of something we’ve rejected within ourselves. Some part of us we don’t like, haven’t accepted, don’t want to integrate. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Very happy to be connected.

  3. This is so perfectly timed. The conundrum for me is that the person doing this is my daughter. I cannot walk away. Yet I’m tired of being verbally abused and blamed for everything you can imagine. Responding with love and compassion is always my goal but it can be so extraordinarily difficult. I’m at a loss. Any wisdom greatly appreciated.

    1. Hey Jenna. I’m so sorry you’re going through a painful time with your daughter. I can feel it in your words, and as a mom, my heart hurts for you. Have you tried talking to a therapist together? Just thinking that a third, objective party in the mix might be helpful. That way you get support, and your daughter feels heard, and maybe the therapist can start to help her take some ownership of her life and her feelings. I think a lot of the time, we moms get the worst of it, because deep down, our kids know we will love them no matter what. So they feel safe to rage and blame, or storm around or collapse or lash out. I think it’s beautiful that you’re trying to respond with love and compassion, but I also think she needs to understand she can’t abuse you. You can create healthy boundaries without abandoning her. Feel free to email me if you want to, [email protected]. Sending love to you and your daughter. Hang in there, Jenna <3

  4. I went to therapy with my daughter, and it really works! We did this so the family dynamic now with her daughters will change, and it did. It takes alot of hard work on both sides, and one has to set boundaries, and also respect the others boundaries. And change bad habits for good habits. This was 6 years ago, and now she is 37, I am 59, and the girls are 7 years old and 9 years old. So it is never too late! Every time she goes back to being verbally abusive, or I go back to guilttripping her we remind eachother and ourselves that ” a deal is a deal”, and we made a deal to treat eachother with mutual respect, trust and love, and as my Zaydeh always said: “That´s all”!

    1. That’s wonderful, Aviva. I agree, it’s never too late if two people are willing to work, to hear each other, and to be respectful. SO much is possible with all of that as a foundation. Sending you love and hugs, as ever!

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