I spent years feeling very frustrated by the behaviors of others until I realized that it’s a big enough world where, if someone is not willing to grow and be a kinder person, they don’t need to be a part of my life and it really is that simple.
How you speak of others has absolutely everything to do with revealing what kind of person you really are, no exceptions. There are lots of cliches that go along with this reality; “Treat others how you want to be treated”, “You are reflected in the company you choose to keep”, my personal favorite “If someone is talking negatively about another to you, they ARE talking negatively about you to someone else.” Fact. Do not convince yourself you are somehow special to that person and thereby excluded from their behavioral pattern.
A friend of mine is going through a very hard and intense break-up right now and she is a lot of pain. What I admire about her is that she is STILL not throwing shade at the person who hurt her because she knows that person is reacting based on their past experiences. She does not refer to this person as “crazy” despite the reaction this person had that seems completely overreactive and extreme. (I am starting to feel the same way about the word crazy as I do about words as offensive as nigger, it is an ignorant, hateful word used for the sole purpose of attacking and belittling another.) Despite how hurt my friend is and how uprooted her life is, she is still viewing her ex in her mind as a human being just like everyone else, and she is trying to keep a healthy perspective going forward. Yes, she is very hurt. Yes, her life is uprooted in a similar manner that mine was a year and a half ago, but doesn’t view her ex as her enemy.
I was a bit shocked, and extremely humbled, by my friend’s grace. It would be very easy for her to rip this person to shreds verbally (and almost expected based on what this person did/how she hurt my friend) and it would be easy for me, as her friend who is seeing how hurt she is, to join in and attack this person right along with her. But instead, we sat around yesterday and had a long talk that was focused on compassion, on trying to understand why her ex behaved the way she did and helping her decide what to do going forward.
I can fully admit that in times I’ve been extremely hurt by a friend, I have not acted with such grace. I have let anger get the better of me, I have said things about others that were cruel and hurtful. Eventually over time I got to a point where I could look back on them and realize that they have reasons for acting the way they did and those reasons had nothing to do with me and everything to do with their own pasts and experiences. My friend though, she was able to see that even in the middle of so much pain and I can’t even express how much I admire that. I regret moments in which I said hurtful things about others out of anger because that is not the person I am, and it is not the person I want to be. I am so thankful now to have friends who truly are the kind of people I aspire to be, who set examples simply by being true to themselves.
I do have compassion for people in my past, I honestly do, but I can say about some of them that they (although they do not currently understand this) contribute to their own misery. I used to do the same thing unknowingly. So I have two peice of advice / shared wisdom to offer to everyone : Past friends, past “enemies” and people I have never met.
1. Essentially you will never be a happy, healthy person if you continue to allow toxic people to be a part of your daily life. It doesn’t matter who they are, friends, distant relatives, or even immediate family. Any relationship that is unhealthy will only and always do nothing but cause you pain, but if you continue to allow it, you become just as responsible for your pain as they are. You cannot force someone to change or to treat you better or with more respect. All you can do is be honest with them about the negative effect they are having on your life, and if they do not care enough to change, they do not care about you enough to deserve to be in your life. Period. It really is that simple. If it seems more complicated, it’s because you are choosing to make it that way. I learned all of this the hard way, and it took years for these lessons to truly become my life motto.
2. You have never walked in anyone’s shoes but your own. Sometimes it is VERY difficult to understand what goes on in the mind of another, and sometimes people’s choices, words and actions will baffle you to shocking levels. I know countless people have baffled me, and in turn, I know the things I have said and done have been very confusing to others. WE ARE ALL PRODUCTS OF BIOLOGY AND OUR ENVIRONMENTS / PASTS. Most of us (sociopaths not included) are doing the best we can. But, not a single negative word that you utter about another person reflects on them in the least bit. The only person that your hateful words reflect back on is you. Instead of saying “This person is crazy” try saying, “I don’t understand why this person said or did this.” You have a few choices if you want to be a decent, compassionate human being who treats others how you want to be treated. You can either ASK someone if you are confused about them, or you can take what you know about them and figure it out yourself. What makes you a toxic person is name-calling, invalidating, and putting others down.
A lot of very difficult, winding roads lead me to where I am right now both physically and emotionally. I still have some lingering feelings about some past situations and extremely offensive people that I’m working on moving past, but I can honestly say that some of the meanest people have helped me become a better person by providing a very clear example of what I never want to be.
Who am I right now? I’m the girl who obsesses over her pets. I’m the girl that friends know they can talk about anything with because I don’t gossip or say negative things about others. I’m the girl who has extreme trust issues and is convinced I will probably never get married or possibly never even have a romantic relationship again, but that is actually okay with me. I am an introvert, and although I enjoy having friends like everyone does, I need my private space and my alone time. I know that I need to depend on myself fully and independently in order to feel secure. I’m the girl who attends, and even helps organize, marches against trophy hunting and poaching because it is disgusting and sociopathic, and animals do not have human voices and cannot speak up for their own right to live. I’m the girl who always wanted to be an author, and now I’m finally on my way. I’ve got one book out in a dystopian series, the second one is almost finished, and I’ve got well organized plans going forward. No amount of anyone saying anything negative about me, in the past or even in the present, will take away from the fact that karma has seen to it that I’ve had opportunities to finally find the peace I so desperately wanted in life, and well, I’ve seen karma be less kind to some of the people who treated me poorly in the past. If you are unhappy, take a look around you at the company you keep, the toxic people you are tangled up in, and the way you are treating others because all of those things are the perfect recipe in which to stay miserable. If you want to find peace, I suggest you simply cut out all toxic people in our life, quit talking negatively about others, and make amends to those you’ve hurt in the past. You do those things and life will open up to you in some pretty fantastic ways. The choice is yours. The word “can’t” is nothing but your own unwillingness and stubbornness holding you back.
As for me – as they say, “the kids are all right.” 🙂