Sometimes we end up in situations with people who say and do things that, if taken personally, hurt or upset us. Coworkers, family members, customers, pseudo-friends and people in illusory positions of superiority (teachers, judges, bosses etc.) are the usual sources.
Recently, a very gifted woman wrote to me and shared a humiliating experience. She’s a waitress and while at work, she overheard a mother admonish her child not to ever become a lowly food server like her.
We all seek to live at a level of self-worth that allows events like these to just roll off of our backs, but sometimes they don’t and the resulting emotional upset can send us spiraling.
A conscious outsider can usually, with enough information, look at an offending person and see how they became the way they are. People who behave in toxic and destructive ways are always living in reaction to their wounds and/or the belief that their worth is conditioned on things or status. They are driven by their inner inferiority, self-loathing, and desperate attempts to feel adequate. The most basic way to temporarily soothe the searing pain of fear and unworthiness is to tear someone else down.
Knowing this can often help a victim of venomous actions stay centered and take nothing personally. Yet, it can be difficult to call up this understanding when you’re shaken.
The next time that one unreachable person starts putting their toxic sludge on you:
Imagine that you’re visiting them in an insane asylum. If an insane person told you horrible things about you, you wouldn’t take it seriously or personally. You would know that they are wounded and unwell. You’d feel compassion for them and your main desire would be for them to heal.
People who are healthy and whole inside do not harm others. You are not the source of their reason to harm; they are living the results of their lives and the meanings they’ve ascribed to their life’s events.
Wounded people wound. It has nothing to do with you.
The next time you sense a toxic interaction developing, know that you’re visiting the wounded.
You may decide that hanging out in the mental ward is not something you want to do a lot of and that’s probably a pretty smart decision. Bless them, help if you can (without harming yourself) and move on.