My friend Denise tells me that I take things too personally. She’s right, of course. She’s always right. She listens to me as I talk of the latest thing that hurt me, and then she basically tells me to suck it up. Obviously, I do not go to her for sympathy. She listens, she tells me when I’m being foolish or that I’m right, but then she tells me to move on. “Let it go. People don’t think.”
Ah, and there’s the problem. I have trouble moving on and letting go. Often I will stew and nurse the hurt far longer than it deserves. Then I will eventually say nothing to the person who hurt me and just try to put it behind me, put it out of my mind. The problem with just putting it behind me somewhere outside of my consciousness is that it isn’t resolved. It is’t really gone either. The next time I am hurt by that person, my mind will call up everything he or she did to me or said to me that was hurtful in the past and ruminate on it all. A. L. L. I add all of those times together and beat myself up like they just happened again.
Once in a while, years later in a new huff of anger, I will blurt out, “This is just like when…” And I am stunned when they have no recollection of having done what they did. I was really hurt, and they don’t even remember! And then I have my insecurities validated. The monkey-brain kicks into high gear. The monkeys jumping around from thought to thought in my brain tell me, “See, you never mattered in the first place. If you did, this wouldn’t have happened…oh, and this…and this.” I tell myself that they didn’t care about me and my feelings. I tell myself that they would be better off if I just expected nothing or went away or didn’t exist.
I was reading or listening to Brené Brown not too long ago and she talked about approaching someone by saying, “the story I’m telling myself about this is…” That sounds like good advice. And you can see that I framed a couple of my sentences that way earlier. But I still have trouble speaking to someone about an issue. That’s because I’m also telling myself that if I say, “the story I’m telling myself about this is…” they reply with, “Yep, that’s about it.” Or more likely, since most people wouldn’t be that blunt, they would give me assurances that I wouldn’t know whether to believe.
I was brought up to worry about what other people think. My mother often admonished us with “what will the neighbors think” arguments. Both of my parents were all about keeping up with the Joneses. People’s worth or success was only defined in dollars. When my mother entertained, everything had to be absolutely Martha-Stewart-perfect. She was always dressed up and, even when we went shopping, we were told not to wear jeans because “people” don’t wear them to go out. There were a lot of things I was told that “people” don’t do. I became a teacher with no chance for wealth and fame, my friends walk into my home and help themselves, and jeans are practically my uniform, but while those options feel better for me, they also fall short.
So, do you see my problem? Yep, it’s me. That’s the problem. I need some internal renovations.
- I need to quit taking everything so personally, because it causes me to be hurt way too often.
- I need to be unconcerned with what other people think…Or as Denise always tells me, “you wouldn’t worry about what other people think about you if you realized how seldom they do.” (If I take that too much to heart, that’s depressing too!)
- I need to speak up for myself – not rudely but assuredly. I’m good at speaking up about opinions on books and movies, world events, or if someone hurts one of my loved ones. When it comes to speaking up for myself, the words get jammed up somewhere between my heart and my mouth while my brain turns into jelly.
- I need to find the courage to stand up for myself by not allowing others to treat me with little respect or take advantage of my willingness to do anything for a friend.
- I need to quit showing up everywhere with gifts at the expense of my financial security. I had it pointed out by a friend-become-family member today that I don’t need to always show up with goodies, food, and gifts. Dani assured me that she and her kids love me just for me – which, even though she was taking me to task about something, was wonderful to hear.
- I need to say “no” without guilt.
Now that I’ve outlined the renovation plans in black and white, it’s time to get to work on this. I know what needs to be done. I’ve read enough books, heard enough speakers, saved enough inspirational memes on Pinterest, and listened to enough sermons to write my own book on the subject. But what I know how to give advice on to everyone else isn’t as easy to do for myself. It’s the old “physician, heal thyself” advice that is never as simple as all that.
There is something I have learned in sharing these posts. I am not the only one struggling with these issues. While sometimes we all feel that we are alone in our weakness and in our struggles, as soon as we speak up about them we find out we are from from alone. I imagine that suddenly there will be cries of “You too? I thought it was just me!” Maybe a friend or even a stranger reading this will grab on to the fact that someone else gets it, and then we can gain strength in having someone else walking alongside of us. For now I know what I need to work on. And I know where to ultimately turn for the assistance I need in this project. The surest way through or out of any problem is the same. “I cried out, ‘I am slipping!’ but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. (Psalms 94:18-19 NLT) He has been there before and I’m counting on God to be there all of my days.