Sometimes I wish people just didn’t have feelings.
If you think about it, 99% of our problems come from people having feelings. When we have to sit down with our bosses to discuss “a comment we made to another co-worker”, that is usually stemming from someone having feelings, and them wanting us to “hear them out”. When we get in arguments with our family members about “talking too much about ourselves”, that is usually stemming from someone having feelings. When we get mad at our friends for “not responding back to our text message”, that is usually stemming from someone having feelings. When we are hurt by the way someone dumped us, that is usually due to someone having feelings.
Now, I am not talking about the kind of feelings like when something tragic occurs in your life. By all means, when something unexpected and traumatic occurs, have feelings. Cancer diagnosis, death in the family, dog running away, boyfriend dumping you, someone gets in a car accident–feel those things out because it can be really detrimental if you don’t and you should CERTAINLY acknowledge those kind of feelings.
However, it is the kind of feelings that create “issues” that are really extensions of our own feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and insecurities that become the problem. When we take things personally, that’s usually when we accumulate “feelings” that can get hurt very easily.
I’ve been accused before of being cold-hearted, emotionless, void of feelings –which is not true at all. I actually have lots of emotions, but I just don’t take things personally, so I don’t give myself an opportunity to get offended (I once was accused of being kind of like a guy, but I blame it on the fact that my brain is just very logic-oriented). Of course, there’s always the opportunity that these things that could hurt my feelings were directed at me, and they were intended to offend me, but if I choose to believe that route, then it’s really harboring on my self-ego, which in turn puts a damper on my day, and this life is too short to be in bad moods all the time. Here’s the self-talk I always bring myself through before I decide to take something personally or not:
“He didn’t respond back to my text message”: So the guy you like didn’t respond back to your text message. That hurts. All you want to do is hear from him, and he’s ghosted you. Now you feel like an idiot because you obviously like him more than he likes you, since he can’t even give you the time of day to respond. When people don’t respond back to my messages, I just tell myself that for whatever reason, they didn’t get my message. Maybe it didn’t send. That happens, right? Technology is fallible? Maybe they were in a foreign country and just didn’t get my messages (true story–someone once sent me a message that I didn’t get due to being in Paris, and I think feelings got hurt because I didn’t respond because I didn’t get the message). Maybe the message-receiver looked at it right before a big asteroid hit their car, and their phone dropped down a large crevice in the Earth. It could be that I am intentionally being ghosted, they really are not responding back to my message on purpose, but believing I am intentionally being ghosted hurts my self-image, so I’d rather believe any of these other scenarios.
(Of course, I don’t re-send my message, because if I REALLY wanted to talk to them, I could just call them, which is a much less cowardly way to resolve the situation)
“She made a nasty face at me”: Its true; maybe that nasty face was intended for me, or perhaps that she just ate a super sour lemon head that made her lips unexpectedly pucker at me at the exact moment I happened to catch her gaze. Maybe all of a sudden, that milk she drank for breakfast is not agreeing with her stomach, and she is feeling some internal pains. Or, maybe she just caught a whiff of someone else’s breakfast not agreeing with them, and she was trying as hard as she could to not throw up. If I see someone making what I perceive as a nasty face at me, I try not to take it personally, because I don’t exactly know what the nasty face is directed towards (unless, of course, they tell me, “I am making a nasty face at you to hurt your feelings”). When this happens, I switch my thinking to hoping their face just doesn’t get stuck like that…
“That post was totally targeted towards me”: First, I have to remember that people are self-absorbed, so the fact that they are wasting a precious post on me is actually very narcissistic on my part.When I, myself, think about all the venues I gain social membership from, I remember just how large my circle of influence is, and how many people I interact with on a daily basis. I have my dance people, my yoga people, my friends, my family, my co-workers, my students, my blog people, my softball people–the list goes on and on–and I naturally assume everyone has a very similar experience. I might spend a couple hours with someone, but I don’t really know the extent of their social circles in the 22 other hours they are alive each day. So, I can’t really take that post personally, because I have NO idea what other groups of people the person has interacted with, and perhaps that post was targeted to someone I don’t even know, about a situation I haven’t even heard about yet.
…this happens too: “She didn’t ‘like’ my post”: Social media plays a whole other part in our feelings, and it is always slightly damaging to our egos when someone doesn’t ‘like’ or comment on our posts. What I always remind myself is, my own NewsFeed can only handle a certain number of things, I certainly do not see everything that all 1,500 of my friends post everyday, and there is a likelihood my friend just didn’t see my post either. Maybe she is intentionally not ‘liking’ my posts, or not, but I just choose to believe the latter (plus, doesn’t it sound kind of juvenile to get mad at someone for not clicking a button on a piece of technology?…)
“He didn’t say hi to me”: I am 100% guilty of passing someone and not acknowledging their presence, and I am sure it feels very cold-hearted of me. But, do you KNOW what is going on inside my brain at any given moment? I have dance steps and formations running, grad school papers formulating, blog posts writing, social scheduling items, personal issues processing, lesson plans beginning, etc. ping ponging around in my head (actually, you really don’t want to–it’s anxiety inducing). I remind myself of this whenever I also pass someone who does not say hi to me. Perhaps his mind is ping ponging with thoughts too, and he just didn’t notice me. Or, perhaps he isn’t wearing his contacts and can’t see me (that’s happened to me before too). Whatever the reason, I can’t take it personally if someone doesn’t say hi to me. There could be a plethora of reasons why this occurred and its not worth my time to over-analyze THIS interaction as well (and add to all the other thoughts ping-ponging around in my head).
“That car just cut me off!”: Before I let myself pass any judgements, I always first ask, “Am I guilty of this action too?” Because if I am, then I can’t really judge. And 99% of the time, I am guilty of that same behavior. We have all cut other people off while driving before. What usually happens to me is, I am jamming to my music, I realize at the last second I am about to miss my exit, I notice I have just enough room to get over, and I swerve into the lane, and cut another car off. Oops. But this plays in many different scenarios as well: someone slams the door in our face, someone forgets to thank us, someone missed a typo in their e-mail, someone takes our beloved spot in yoga; if I’ve been guilty of doing it before, then I can’t get mad at another person for doing the same thing.
“They didn’t invite me out”: As a general rule of thumb, I always invite everyone, and people can come if they want to come, or don’t come if they don’t want to, but then no one can get mad for not being invited. It is always a blow to your ego when you find out your friends did something fun without you because you naturally start thinking about all the time they can spend talking about you without you there. I’ve definitely been in this position before, and when your friends return from their outing, you can definitely tell if you were the topic of conversation. If this is true, I would say get new friends; its a waste of your time to hang around people who exclude you, only to gossip. But, if that isn’t the case, perhaps there were some other factors involved in this outing. Maybe your friend’s dad had only four tickets to the Opera, and your friend knew you would be miserable there, so someone else got invited and you didn’t. Maybe your friend knew you would be busy Friday night, so she didn’t even think to invite you. Maybe your friend was not the host of the event, and therefore, she didn’t feel comfortable inviting more people along. Maybe you were supposed to be invited by someone else who dropped the ball. It’s hard when you don’t get invited to something, but as an introvert, I’d rather spend my Friday night alone anyways.
…if only people would stop having feelings, this world would be a much more logical, happier, less offended place…