POD #20: It ain’t about you
If your words have power is the first of my Jackie-isms, the second would be “If it was anyone else it would bother me.”
I remember the first time that this thought came to me. I was sitting in a meeting at work. We were, as a group, planning to participate in Relay for Life in honor of our county manager who passed away from cancer. I was a new kids on the block in our office, but I loved our manager. He was just an all around great guy.
We were brainstorming ideas. I threw out an idea, and one of the “old-timers” who had been at the office for decades shut me shot me down. It wasn’t just a polite “no, that probably wouldn’t work.”; he really belittled the idea. Many of the people in the room looked at me in pity for how he had treated me – publicly. I was in shock, and hopefully showed little response. However, inside I was crushed. I had never felt more humiliated and small in my entire life.
When the meeting was over, I made my way over to my cubicle and sat down in defeat. One of my coworkers came over and made a comment about the treatment of the “old-timer” towards me. That’s when the word’s escaped my mouth, without pause I said “Yea, and if anyone else had done that to me it would bother me.” And I meant it. The “old-timer” eventually because a respected colleague and friend, who stayed in touch even after I left the agency.
However, at that moment in time, I had come on board and been handed many of his families that he worked with. Then I completely changed all that he had been working on with the families. I was a new social worker and had every intention on changing the world. He was a seasoned worker, who knew the families, and their parents, and grandparents – he knew the history. I knew that my approach was different from his, and he didn’t like my “new way.”
Although the comments he made were personal. I didn’t take them as that longer than a moment, because I knew his response wasn’t to me personally, but to the perceived threat I brought to his was of doing things. So I knew that if someone else had made those comments, it might have been personal. However, this time I could discount what he said because his anger was about something else. And I kept the mantra “IF it was anybody else it would bother me.” since.
There are times that I get caught up thinking that comments are geared towards me, or actions are because of me. Typically, they come when I feel excluded from things. When it is comments, I apply my mantra “If it was anyone else, it would bother me.” Comments I can generally let go of pretty quick. Actions, take a little more work. Eventually I work it out, realizing it has more to do with my framing than the intentional actions of others.
Who I am is not dependent upon the opinions, or actions of others. Just as currency gets its value from the treasury where it is created, my value comes from my creator. If I take a $100.00 bill and tell you it is worth more or less, it will not change that it really is a $100.00 – no more, no less. It doesn’t matter what others say about me, it does not change my worth or value. If I spend that $100.00 on doing something good, or spend doing something bad – it doesn’t change its value. It is still worth $100.00. It doesn’t matter if the things I have spent my life on are good or downright evil, it doesn’t change my worth or value. If I take that $100 bill and use it to snort cocaine or even tear it up so that it is barely able to be pieced back together with tape – it is still worth $100.00. My worth and value doesn’t change just because someone slights me, or because of the terrible things that have happened to me throughout my life. My worth my value can only be changed by my Creator.
With that truth engrained in my life, I need only refocus back to the truth when I start feeling swayed by the opinions of others. Other’s opinions about me, I can take it and see if there is truth to what they are saying. I can take it to my Creator and say “Is this something I need to work on.” A lot of times the answer is yes, but it is His opinion, not that of someone else that will bring about the change I need in my life. There are also times that I take that opinion, and say “Sorry, that is who I am.”
There are also times that I have to stop and look at who is saying or doing the thing that I am taking personally. Where are they at in the moment? Are they speaking out of love? Are they speaking out of anger? Are they tired? Are they hurt? I know that I sometimes speak things I would prefer to take back when I am angry, tired and hurt. I have to afford others the same grace that I want extended to me. I have to realize that everything said ain’t about me. I have to know that people’s behaviors also aren’t always about me.