Rule #4: Give the benefit of the doubt
It’s so easy to take things personally. I think it is a natural part of the ego to assume that if someone says something about you that rubs you the wrong way that it’s a negative personal judgment. You are experiencing the world from your point of view, after all. Internalizing everything this way is exhausting though. It’s a very unhappy and unpeaceful way to go about life. It creates drama at every turn. And, in the spirit of Rule #2: Zero Negativity, minimizing drama is the name of this game.
So, there are two major things to keep in mind. First, it’s not enough to think that not all things are about you. It’s better to practice a mindfulness that exactly nothing is about you. Nothing at all. Zippy. The only things that are about you are the things that you think about yourself and the way you conduct yourself. Those are things that are about you because you control them exclusively. You alone are responsible. But, the way other people think about you and the way other people conduct themselves around you are only about them. They are responsible.
This is basic emotional boundary setting. I have struggled with this concept my whole life. Growing up with suppressed emotions left me feeling responsible for nothing- there was nothing really to manage. I was insensitive to the plights of others. And I didn’t really care because it was only fair – if others were insensitive to me, I was fine with that too. My emotional discovery and transformation left me very vulnerable here because the pendulum swung entirely in the other direction and I became sensitive to every action and reaction. Everything said or done meant more than what was just on the surface. I read into everything. Where is the healthy, happy middle ground here? Learning this lesson on emotional boundaries has been extremely helpful recently. In fact, I give the benefit of the doubt so faithfully to everyone that I encounter that I’m at risk to be walked all over for the sake of my steadfast belief that everyone is well intended.
Go on, stomp on my heart. I’m pretty resilient. And I’ll even assume that you didn’t mean to. GAH.
Ideally, everyone would just be appropriate all the time and never say or do anything mean. But we all have moments. And, we don’t ever know everything that another person is going through. Instead of taking something personally, wouldn’t it be much more peaceful to feel confident about yourself and assume that the person expressing negativity is just having a bad day? Likely, that is what is going on. And, if it’s someone close to you and they are having a year’s worth of “bad days” and you’re feeling verbally abused or judged then perhaps a discussion about what the issue is might be in order. Or, a dismissal of said friendship. Life is short, people. Be nice to each other.
The second thing to keep in mind is that except in some rare circumstances, most people are well intended and kind. Those are the people that you’ve hopefully chosen to be active participants in your life. So, if there are any outstanding meanies lurking around it’s time to chuck them in the name of Rule #2. The A-list people in your life would never do anything intentionally to hurt you- a very important thing to keep in mind for those rare times where you do happen to get your feelings hurt. These people that you love, and who love you, always deserve the benefit of the doubt. Because in times where they are hurting or in need, that is when they need your compassion the most. Those aren’t the times to create drama by throwing an unintended insensitivity back at them to deal with.
Compassion first, confrontation last resort. It’s not “Why are you hurting my feelings?” it’s “What is going on in your life that is causing this negativity? Talk to me about it.” In my personal essence of fairness, the new give and take is constant compassion. Do you know how many times you’ve been given the benefit of the doubt from others when you didn’t even know it? I know I’ve been on the receiving end of it more than I’d care to imagine.
1. Be yourself
2. Zero Negativity
3. Say I Love You
4. Give the benefit of the doubt