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Thursday, 7 July 2016

65. Not taking it personally

A long time ago, Matt said to me I needed to learn to not take things personally.  He said if I expected people to treat me the same way I treated them, I was only setting myself up for disappointment. Seeing this as a life lesson and wanting to learn to be emotionally smarter, over the years, I have somewhat tempered my expectations of others and tried not to take things personally.  And most of the time, it has been manageable.  With strangers and acquaintances, the advice makes sense and is easy enough to follow because there are no emotional ties.

But what about when it involves people who you have opened your heart to and seen you at your weakest?  Especially in circumstances when you are already ‘down on the ground’.  It is very hard not to take it personally when it feels so personal.  The thing is, it always seems to come from people who are competitive.  The ones who like to tell you about how much they earn, or how much they just spent on a shopping spree, or the latest and newest toy they just bought.  Interestingly, they also seem to be the ones making the loudest public proclamations of how they are your biggest supporters but never follow through.  It feels as if they take solace in watching you struggle.  And instead of being respectful, they are offended when you don’t want to talk about what you are going through.  You know what?  I am not much of a talker.  I tend to hide away in order to figure things out.

The adage “actions speak loud than words” is one by which I live by.  An ‘under promiser’ I would much rather ‘over deliver’ than indulge in grandiloquence.  Of course, it could just be a case of my misunderstanding of verbiage.  But then, in my heart, I know I am only making excuses.  And one gets to the point where one (oh, that would be me!) becomes weary of making excuses and pretending not to see when that ‘friend’ is being competitive – even when there is no competition in session.  When times are ‘good’, it is easier to overlook.  But when times are difficult, it is exhausting and disappointing.

Maybe I need to work harder at not taking things personally but it is difficult when the actions of others, hiding under the guise of friendship, feels spiteful and unkind.  As I write this, I reflect back and suddenly realize the similarities with the personality types I am referring to.  I should have realized this lesson sooner.  As I keep saying to my girls.  Everyone has the capacity to be nice and not so nice.  The best way to see through someone’s true nature is to observe how they treat ‘other’ people.  The ones who belittle other people and talk down to servers.  The ones who make fun of or criticize other people’s dress sense or parenting styles.  And the one who makes you feel as if there is some unspoken competition you never signed up to but are inexplicably constantly drawn into.

But no more.  Please do not belittle me under the guise of a joke.  Jokes at other people's expense are not funny - no matter the number of times you tell it. Please let’s not be competitive about our children or make comments that the degree my child is showing an interest in is a rubbish degree and worth nothing.  Please do not make rude comments about other people in front of me because it makes me feel very uncomfortable and wonder what you say about me behind my back.  Please do not talk about how you are going to ‘support’ me but instead keep stringing me along with BS excuses or use it as an opportunity to show me how much better/luckier you are compared to me.  I am not interested.

I am not perfect.  I do not pretend to be anyone but me.  I am not interested in competing with you in any shape or form.  I am trying to live the best life I can and trying to be the most authentic person I know how.  And if you want to show kindness and true friendship, I will welcome it.  But don’t try to tear me down under the guise of friendship to make yourself feel better about whatever it is you are going through – we are ALL going through stuff.  I will take it personally - and stay away from you.

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