Today I thought I’d share a few thoughts based around this much-loved quote :
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”
Actually, while this is commonly attributed to Dr Seuss, it seems this may be misattributed as it’s not cited in any particular work.
This is a hugely popular quote, so I imagine most will have heard it before. I was thinking about it the other day because of a situation I found myself in. We know that to do ourselves a favour we should step away from any toxic people in our lives. But sometimes it’s not that easy. Nobody has the right to make you feel lesser in any way. Sometimes it’s misguided and misplaced attempts at encouragement or support. Other times it just comes from a place of ignorance and bitterness, a way for that other person to feel better about themselves by putting someone else down.
Have you ever experienced this? I imagine most will have, at least once, and many of you can probably name a person(s) who make you feel negative in some way.
There’s someone in my life that has always made me feel, well, worthless. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve cried as a result. My graduation, birthdays, endless every day situations. I don’t see or speak to this person all that often. They only get in touch when they want something. They don’t ask how I am. If the topic comes around to me, there are always ways to make me feel like I’m wasting my life, that I’m boring, that I’m not going to measure up. I say I don’t care, but of course I do. It’s hard not to. I just wish I didn’t.
I’ve tried. I’ve tried to be patient and polite, to ask how they are and take an interest in their life. I’ve also been made to feel as though I owe them a reason and an explanation as to why I ‘am the way I am’. I’ve said before on here that you shouldn’t feel pushed into telling someone about your health issues unless you want to, yet I did, I told them about the stoma without wanting to, but because of feeling I needed to excuse my loss of my job, my ‘boring’ life, and everything else. The response? “I knew someone with a stoma, he still travelled loads and did kickboxing, it didn’t stop him doing anything“. It was said almost encouragingly. But I knew – even if nobody else did – the unsaid end to this sentence was “so what’s your excuse?” I wouldn’t tell this person about any of the other health issues I deal with. They’d find it all laughable. They do know about the pernicious anaemia. Their first response? “Is it hereditary, will I get it?“
This person can also be incredibly brash, ignorant and judgemental in general, on social media and to others ‘in real life’. They come across as being quite high and mighty in their beliefs, willing to criticise and judge and berate others very quickly if there’s something they disagree with.
I won’t go in to the ways this person makes me feel useless and worthless. It’s a long story and it’s not one I will bore you with here. This isn’t about me. I’m just sharing this much to illustrate the point.
Do you call them out on it, or do you mask your hurt & say nothing? There comes a point where you need to decide whether to say something and risk rocking the boat; this could contribute to repairing the rift, or it could cause a blow-out. Or, do you ignore, walk away and avoid? It really does depend on you, what was said/done, and the situation. It can be easy to respond in the heat of the moment and regret it later. How will you feel if you don’t say anything? What may happen if you call them out on it? What would be better in the long run? Will it help? Some people may be unaware of how they come across and will likely be mortified if they knew they’d caused hurt, so letting them know can be useful. Others, however, are aware of what they’re doing; telling them will therefore likely make no difference because they simply don’t care. You need to weigh up whether it’s worth it and whether it may be helpful to respond.
I thought it timely to cover this as Christmas has a way of pushing us towards others and putting us in situations we may find uncomfortable. In some cases, almost intolerable. You can’t choose your family, and in social circles there may be people who you don’t get on with or who simply make you feel awful about yourself.
Sometimes we can really want to not care, but we do. Don’t feel pressure to discuss or reveal details about something personal, like your health issues, to someone unless you want to. You owe no reason or explanation, and we rarely get the kind of supportive response we’d hoped for in such instances.
If someone puts you down or makes you feel lesser, in any way, ask yourself why they’re doing it. Is it their personality, do they treat others like that? Is it perhaps coming from a good place, but totally misguided in how they come across? Do they do it because they’re just mean and want to make themselves feel better? If it’s the former or the latter, you don’t have to stand for it. Practicing self-care means advocating for your own needs, it means being assertive and finding a way to minimise the damage someone else can do to you that you simply don’t deserve.
It can be very difficult when you’re thrown into a situation where that person(s) is, such as for gatherings at Christmas. If you can’t remove yourself from the situation then it may be best to try to ‘rise above it’, as the saying goes. Don’t doubt yourself, especially if others play down what’s being said or done. With a change of perspective and a bit of armour around your heart, you can gradually let comments bounce off you. They may leave a bruise, but that’s better than a gaping wound. Judgements, ridicule, manipulation, passive aggressive or snarky comments, it doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. It’s not worth your worry and your hurt.
If you’re dealing with chronic illness or chronic pain then you’ve been through enough to know you can handle anything. The person making you feel like crap? I doubt they’d cope with one day in your shoes. So this sort of stuff being thrown at you? No problem, you can handle it.
Have you experienced this with someone, perhaps a friend, an old acquaintance, or a family member? Do you expect to spend time during the holidays with someone who makes you feel not so great about yourself? How do you deal with situations like this?