In the past couple of days I got a lesson in not taking things personally.*
Yesterday someone I know surprised me by being very upset and blaming me for something. It took me completely by surprise. I tried to be nice–no, I was nice about it. Like a cashier dealing with an irate customer, I smiled and was as sympathetic and helpful as I could be. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to make a difference. This person did not relent, and seemed just as frustrated after the talk as at the beginning.
It was a very challenging situation because this person seemed to be dwelling on his upset rather than being willing to move forward. He also seemed unaware of how he was coming across…. like he was pointing his finger at me rather than taking any responsibility for his upset!
I talked it over with my wife (who was very helpful and supportive), and I realized that it wasn’t so much what this person said or how he acted as my head’s reaction to it that was the source of my pain. Because, without meaning to, I was taking in this person’s blame and judgment as if it were truth.
That. Did. Not. Feel. Good.
Once I realized I was doing this, I started to feel better. The thorn in my side was what I was doing to myself in reaction to someone else’s behavior. Realizing what happened is helping me come out of the upset quicker than I might have in the past.
It was not a fun situation, but I appreciate the clarity I am getting from practicing being nice to myself… which is all the more important when someone else isn’t.
*I tell you, it (still) ain’t easy sometimes!