It is silly, isn’t it? Taking some random non-verbal cue from a stranger and internalizing it? She does not know me. I do not know her. Her lack of response has nothing to do with me.
These type of encounters fade in a few minutes, but what about those conversations where the person is an acquaintance or a good friend or a family member? How often do we take what people say to us, react, and then blame ourselves for their behavior? There are a handful of times where I’ve internally reacted to an acquaintance’s observation on my parenting, career choices, or preferences. After these brief moments, I tend to blame myself to justify their inappropriate comment or observation. This is precisely the mental gymnastics I need to refrain from. Most people are just dealing with their own emotions and vulnerabilities and their reaction or non-reaction usually points to some insecurity within themselves.
I think about my lack of exchange with the Indian woman on the plane. Maybe right before I smiled at her, she had a massive argument with her husband or she was attending the funeral of a loved one or she was travelling for the first time away from her family in India. I don’t know. What I do know is that the next time I gravitate toward being hard on myself because someone “hurt” me, I need to call a mental time out.
You are sensitive and that’s why you take things personally. I am overly sensitive as well so sometimes I have to remind myself not to over-think everything. We are who we are, so it is what it is 🙂
Beautifully said. Oh, how easy it is to question and blame ourselves because of someone else’s bad day or rude behavior. Thank you for the lovely reminder to acknowledge where the truth lies. I love this: “We have to learn to love people even if they are not giving you what you want.” Thank you for sharing it.
I hope you have a lovely week.
I appreciated your quote on Facebook and I can relate to your post. I’ve often thought that my life would be so much easier and more pleasant if I didn’t overanalyze everything and take things so personally. A girlfriend and I once went on and on about another mother at our children’s school, who never said hello to us. We kept asking out loud what was wrong with us, what had we done wrong, until our husbands stepped in and said it is not about us, but all about her. We actually learned later that the woman was going through a divorce, which would have helped to explain her lack of friendliness. I don’t know why, either, we are so quick to accept full responsibility for someone else’s behavior. I agree that there is much that we don’t know about the other person, and more often than not they are responding to their own issues.
This is such an important lesson, and one I have to teach myself over and over again. I’m not sure why some of us internalize the responses of others to such an extent, when truly they have little to do with us.
An important reminder.
I’m with you on slowly realizing that I simply don’t know. But we can choose to be kind, to smile, to mean it, to feel hurt and perplexed when the smile is not returned (perhaps because it taps into our dread that we are not enough, or our shame that we are worse than not enough, or even just the resonance of someone else’s pain). Perhaps if we cannot be sure that we are good enough, if we cannot quite not be so hard on ourselves, we can at least consider those others in our lives who seem to think we are in fact enough; maybe even we can bank on it, and they, not sure often enough if they are good enough (although they think we are alright in their book), might bank on these others in their lives to carry the acceptance for them. Maybe this mutual need for love and approval is part of how we can all become family, friends, community, world.
I do this all the time. Great perspective.