Sunday, May 9, 2010

Don't Take It Personally.

I had an interesting encounter today. I was listening to someone describing to a third person, "How to get from A to B." They were, in effect, suggesting starting from scratch, and constructing a brand new road. When they finished speaking, I asked (with sincere curiosity, I wasn't being sarcastic,) why they didn't use the well-maintained road already available to them?  I was expecting to hear that the present road was unsuitable for this or that reason. Instead, they stiffened, glared at me, and then walked away without another word. Both the third person and I, were so surprised at the response, that we could only look at each other, in silent surprise.

Before Al-Anon, that person walking away in high dudgeon was me. I was so easily offended, I think I must have been a human minefield for those around me. Who knew what would set me off? I was offended by any suggestion that my idea wasn't the best idea, that there was another way apart from mine to do things, that I wasn't always acting from the best of all possible motives, that I was being less than honest. (I lied continually)

I was offended at the slightest hint that someone was irritated, or annoyed, or bored, by my nervous chatter, or control freak tendencies. Any feeling that the person in my company didn't view me the way I thought they should, and my offense meter went through the roof. I could not accept being challenged in any way, without taking it as a personal attack.

I think it's one of those ironies of life, that now that I've reached a place where I have sufficent self-respect and detachment to be able to accept that other people will disagree with me, and even dislike me, I'm a much more likable person, and consequently get along with others very well in most cases.

Now that I'm not desperate for them to like me, I'm much more likeable.

Somewhere along the way on my journey of recovery, I learned that if I want to receive it, I must be willing to give it. If I want to be interesting, I must be genuinely interested. If I want to receive kindness and respect, I must give of those freely.

Most times now, I can let go of someone else's upset, and allow them the space and time to work it through, without feeling that I need to chase after them, explaining, justifying, excusing. The next time I meet this individual, I will show them the same respect and kindness that I did before they decided I had offended them. I do that for my own self-respect, and to open the door to renewed connection, because it's ok - I truly didn't mind. It's not my problem, but I can help with the solution.

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