If you’re like most humans, when someone does something “mean” or says something negative about you, it can hurt your feelings. Sometimes, it can hurt a lot. Like, pizza-box-on-the-floor and-wine-bottles-strewn-about a lot.
In general, we see this “hurt” reaction as totally normal (unless you’re a sociopath or narcissist who couldn’t care less).
Example: Joe says Sally’s homemade essential oils smell like ass.
Sally feels a metaphorical punch in the gut (and feels sick to her stomach).
She complains about Joe’s hurtful comment to her friend.
They both agree he’s an insensitive jerk.
Makes sense, right? Most people would agree that encountering jerks can lead to being hurt. In fact, we blame a whole lot of hurt on other people – “mean” people, “selfish” people, narcissists.
But here’s the truth: the real reason it hurts is because of what we think about what they said.
It hurts because of the story we make up about what it means that they said that.
We know all this somewhere deep down, right?
While you may have heard all that before… here’s one surprising reason it hurts:
It hurts because often, a teeny tiny (or not so tiny) part of us believes IT MIGHT BE TRUE.
“No way, Ana! I don’t believe my essential oils smell like ass, and it still hurts my feelings when people say that!” Sally might say.
Hmmm. Let’s break this down into smaller bites.
First, as grown ups, we are learning that other people don’t “make” us feel a certain way. We are in control of how we feel. To brush up on this concept, check out this blog post.
Second, we can likely agree that Sally makes Joe not liking her essential oils mean something about who she is, something about her sense of self worth or confidence. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t care. If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you’ve already got this down (if not, you may want to check out this confidence course).
However, the graduate school level of understanding our suffering steps into the next phase.
Do you know how someone that was 100% sure that their essential oils didn’t smell like ass would likely react? They’d think, “He’s got horrible taste! Sucks to be him!” Or, “Joe is freakin’ crazy. His nose must be broken.” Or, “Whatever, Joe. Next!” and they’d saunter on over to another friend’s house.
That’s right. If you didn’t have a sliver of doubt that what the other person was saying was not possibly true, if Sally did not believe – on some level – that what Joe said might be valid, it wound bounce off like the proverbial rubber.
Check out this ad that the LDS church took out in the program for the Broadway musical I just saw, The Book of Mormon, where the entire show makes fun of their religion.
Not that defensive, right? They can laugh about it because they believe none of it is true! They’re like, “Whatever, y’alls are crazy! People are going to LOVE the real book.” (the small print actually reads, “The musical is entertaining. The book is life changing.”)
Here’s another example that’s a bit more concrete: Let’s say your hair isn’t blue (and if you’re one of my rad clients with blue hair, just play with this for a minute;).
Someone on the street says, “Your blue hair is so fugly it makes me want to hurl!”
You’d be like, “Wow, that person is whacked.” And proceed to cross over to the other side of the street.
You can very easily feel unphased about this situation and your awesome hair because you know your hair isn’t blue. (I can see minds blowing. It’s OK. It hurts just in the beginning. Just a little.)
I know it feels a whole lot easier to want to blame the mean people, the jerks, the people who’ve got you all wrong. But trust me – life is actually a whole lot easier when you take ownership over your thoughts. When you free your mind from stories and insecurities and patterns that don’t serve you. When you free your mind from limiting beliefs.
Don’t focus on protecting yourself from the mean girls.
Focus on that lovely ball of brilliance inside your skull – your brain, your thoughts, your beliefs. That’s the only thing keeping you from freeing your Whole. Damn. Life.