It is so hard not to take things personally. Sometimes a person attacks you, directly. If you have a finger pointed in your face, or someone calls you names in an email, it can be challenging to look for the pain behind the anger, but that’s what an attack is about; if there wasn’t a lot of feeling there, the person wouldn’t be so worked up. So it could be that this person cares deeply for you, or it could be that something about you, or the dynamic you have with this person has really set them off, or it could be that they need you to be the villain so they can be the victim, or it could be nine million other possibilities, and that is not about you, that’s about what’s happening within them, what it is that’s being tapped. Unless, of course, you royally screwed up, in which case a heartfelt apology may or may not do the trick. Some people hold onto their rage like it’s going to save them from death, but all it’s likely to do is bring them to their death faster. It’s debilitating to be in a constant state of anger.
We all have pain, and unless you do a lot of work to acknowledge and understand yours, certain things are likely to trigger you. If someone says something or does something that happens to hit you right in your most vulnerable spot, unless you’ve practiced sitting with intense sensation, you’re likely to strike back. I don’t mean with your fists, although there’s sadly too much of that in the world, but with your words or your actions.
Sometimes we screw up, that’s part of being human. We’ll all have moments when we wish we could undo something we’ve said or done. So of course, there are times when you’ll hurt people, hopefully inadvertently. It may also happen because you think you want something at some point, but then you grow and you change and that thing you once wanted doesn’t feel right anymore. If you do have a reason to apologize, by all means, get to it. I think it’s an enormously great quality in a person, the ability to be accountable, and to say “I’m so sorry” when and where it’s warranted. Most people want to be understood, and an apology from the heart can make all the difference in the world.
If you haven’t done anything, and you’re on the wrong end of a slew of expletives or judgements, you do not have to receive those “gifts.” If someone has decided you’re a terrible person because deep down they’re envious, or they feel threatened or jealous, let it be. If you have it in your heart, wish for them that eventually they’ll realize their own gifts and their own beauty, and release their need to write fiction about you in their head, but try not to get caught up in defending yourself, or responding, or trying to convince anyone that you’re really wonderful. You know who you are. You know what kind of person you are. That’s all you need to know. Your actions speak for themselves, and if you’ve made mistakes, welcome to the human race.
When we receive the gift of someone’s insults and start firing back, we give power to their viewpoint. If it’s a creation of someone else’s, why give it power? Why spend your energy that way? Of course it doesn’t feel good when people say things about you that are mean-spirited or flat-out lies, but that stuff doesn’t deserve one ounce of your attention or energy. There’s too much life to be living. Also, not everyone will like you or understand you (or me), and that’s okay, it really is.
The only thing that’s personal is what you think of yourself. That’s as personal as it gets. I’d say it’s good to pay attention when someone close to you holds up a mirror and challenges you to do better. Other than that, focus your energy on what it is you can give. That’s the joy in life. A lot of people struggle; this is no easy gig, this work of being human and vulnerable. When you encounter people who cling to their rage like a shield, wish them well if you have it in you, but don’t take it on. That’s not what you’re here to do.
Sending you love,
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