Unkind people and hurtful words.
If people would just behave themselves…
When was the last time you had your feelings hurt by the words or actions of another person? Within the last week? The last day? The last hour? The person who hurt you may have been a total stranger, an acquaintance, a healthcare professional, or someone close to you.
My clients often talk about what others have said to them. For example: Blaming them for not taking care of themselves. Telling them that if they didn’t focus on how they feel so much, the symptoms would just go away. Warning them about what might happen in the future. Or just plain old denying that they are dealing with a medical diagnosis that affects the way that that they live their daily lives.
But we need people in our lives, in various roles, even on those days when we wish we could just go it alone and not have to place ourselves in the position of being disappointed or upset by the behavior of someone we thought we could count on to be understanding and supportive, or at least to not say something that is careless and hurtful.
And, more important, there are a lot of great people in the world – and in our personal corner of the world – and it’s important not to become so disillusioned that we are tempted to tune everybody out.
So, here are some ideas to help you to deal with those situations that place your faith in humanity on shaky ground:
Watch your self-talk. Remind yourself not to have expectations of other people, including how they “should” think or behave. We can’t predict how people will behave, and expecting them to think or behave according to our own standards and needs only leads to disappointment. Realistically, you can only expect that they will be who they are. For better or worse.
Try not to take things personally. Sometimes people say things that are thoughtless, or just plain dumb, because they are uneducated, or too caught up in their own problems to step outside of themselves and try to understand how someone else is living in the world.
Try to educate people where you can. Let them know when they say something unhelpful and hurtful. If they’ll listen, give them a few facts about your condition. Show them by example how you live and what you need to do to take care of yourself.
And tell yourself that it is not your job to change other people. Some may listen and learn, others may not be able to, willing to, ready to. Know when to walk away from a painful situation.
And if that doesn’t work… remind yourself that the person who said or did something hurtful is not paying you rent, so you shouldn’t give them much space in your mind. You need it for more important things.
Yes, I am encouraging you to talk to yourself a lot. Human beings do that anyway, it’s how we make sense of the world. Your self-talk can have a big impact on how you are viewing the world, interpreting what you see, and then how you are feeling and behaving.
And while you are at it, stay close to the people in your life who are supportive. Stay in touch with them, let them know how much you appreciate them, and ask them what they can do to help you. Keep working on bring more supportive people into your life. You might find that when you are feeling supported, encountering people who are not so kind or helpful will be less likely to impact your day.
If you are suffering from depression or anxiety around your condition, it’s especially important to keep supportive people in your life, and to have coping strategies in place to deal with painful interpersonal situations. Knowing how to cope with unkind people and hurtful words being proactive, and helps you to maintain your perspective and not get knocked around by the turbulence.
We always have a choice in how we view the world. And in the big picture, the world is filled with a lot of great people.
We are all in this together! Stick close to your friends.