The other day, I realized that we waste a lot of time taking things personally. For the most part, none of what other people say or do has anything to actually do with you.
When a kid is bullied, it has nothing to do with the kid, or their hair, or their clothes, or the way they pronounce things – which the bully wants the victim to believe. It has more to do with the bully and their sense of smallness and their crippling sense of low self-worth and the quiet way they feel bigger by shrinking other children. When a parent yells at their child, it has nothing to do with the actual child. It has more to do with the parent and their personal expectations of how the child should be. When a Tinder date ghosts a person, it has nothing to do with the person, who fears not being hot enough, funny enough, or cool enough. It has more to do with the Tinder date’s inability to resolve conflict or their fear of hurting the other person. While, of course, inadvertently hurting that person more.
The classic line – it’s not you, it’s me – isn’t just a staple in the romance scene. It’s a staple in the life scene. When people abuse, compliment, exploit, help, hinder, cut someone off in traffic, insert-verb-from-dictionary, it always says more about the person who engages in that action than anybody else. Even the people around them. We point fingers and blame other people and their actions for our pain or our anger or our sadness, thinking it’s 100% external and 0% internal, but it’s probably more internal than that. When people do trigger us, it has more to do with the beliefs we hold about ourselves. I’m only upset when someone calls me fat because, on some level, I think I’m fat. I’m not upset when someone says my hair is green, because I don’t believe my hair is green. It’s a simplified example, but it highlights how people can only push the buttons we have.
Still. We don’t exist in blameless vacuums, where everything has to do with everyone else but ourselves. The shit we say, the shit we do, the shit we believe, all of that affects the people and situations around us. When we slow our car down in front of a pregnant lady who’s rushing to the hospital, yes, it says more about our character than the pregnant woman’s. But her water still broke, and she needs to be in the emergency room yesterday. When billionaires exploit their employees, sashay their way into space with a cowboy hat on to hurl space debris, yes, it says more about their callousness than anything else, but it still hurts their employees and the environment.
It really is a delicate balance of not taking things in the world too personally, while realizing that we, however small or delicate, still affect people and things in the world. This includes friends, family, lovers, children, Tinder dates, the environment, teachers, co-workers, bosses, cashiers, bus drivers – so on and so forth. I have yet to strike any sort of balance, but it’s a sobering realization, sort of like a Reddit /ShowerThought (or, in this case, a /LuCarThought).