I have the privilege of encountering mean people on a semi-daily basis. Working in customer service (restaurants and retail) I get to experience every mood. I call this a privilege because I recognize this as yet another growth opportunity (A.F.G.O. we’ll talk about this soon). It’s (fairly) impossible to completely avoid resentments, hurt feelings, and anger as these are all natural reactions to offensive actions and words. The hope here is to get a better understanding as to why and how to let it go and use it for growth.
As a starter, I need to acknowledge that the only way I can be impacted by someone’s words or actions is if they touch on something I already feel some type of way about. Yes, good old fashioned assholes exist and don’t need a direct prompt from me to be a dick but the only thing that should get any extended attention is the why it’s affecting me.
The beneficial side of their nasty words, actions, and attitude is that it prompts me to do some self-assessing and brainwork to address some areas in me that obviously need some attention. Things as deep as self-confidence/esteem and unresolved thoughts and feelings about past situations to simpler things like sympathy, empathy, and patience. Whatever it is, now I have the opportunity to acknowledge, address, and improve it...growth (which is the purpose of this whole thing).
Fact: Mean People Suck! Not the actual person, but their actions. Another fact: Mean people dislike something about themselves and/or their life way more than the people they are unkind to. When they encounter people experiencing authentic comfort or joy in the areas of their own loath it causes so much internal/emotional pain that it triggers actual physical discomfort...misery. I believe that miserable people are hurtful and mean because they’re in pain. Though I understand the theory, I don’t know that I believe that misery actually loves company. I don’t think they’re direct objective is to make someone else feel like them more than it is to just stop the light from shining directly in the eye of their own issues.
When things get too uncomfortable there are 2 options, lower my standards to make the misery the new normal or change whatever to make myself happy. Mean people opt to adapt to the misery which makes actual happiness much harder to come by. I think this goes without saying but, it’s pretty hard to be pleasant when you feel like shit.
With this understanding I can be more patient because I can totally empathize with not feeling well and that impacting my interactions. I can also sympathize because it would really suck to have to live having my go-to feelings being uncomfortable and aggravated.
Rather than foster and embellish the problem I will try to be a part of a solution. The easier action step is to kill’m with kindness, in spite of. The other is to actively see where I can help to change it. Life is hard enough as it is and I need patience and understanding as much as the next (hu)man so it’s almost obligatory that I give it...and I become a better person because of it.
...and those are my thoughts this Thursday.