Oh. my. Goodness, do I offend easily. Seriously. I am 33 years old and I am just realizing how offended I have lived my entire life. Let me say this first: every time I find a flaw, it’s pure magic to me. You see, I am the one thing that I actually have control over and when I find that I have been doing something wrong my entire life (as I so often do), I leap for joy, knowing that now that I’ve identified what I suck at and can “grow forth” (a combo of move forward and grow.) So anyway, back to how offended I am…
If you catch me on the right day, you could ask me a simple question in an ever-so-slightly off tone, and it’ll send me into a tailspin. No, I won’t flip out. That’s not how I roll. Internally, though, I will tell myself a New York Times Bestseller-worthy story about the meaning behind your tone, which will then replay over and over in my mind, causing me to form an opinion about you that is negative and then… you know the drill. And the reason that you know the drill, is that you most likely do it too. It’s a human behavior. We tell ourselves stories about everything!
I recently read an interesting book called The Four Agreements, which so perfectly articulated that many of the stories in our minds are formed through the lens of either The Judge or The Victim. We are conditioned to make judgements about everything, based on what we have been taught through our own life experiences. Much of what we have been taught comes from our parents, but society and our inner circle of friends and family also play a large part in forming those judgements or offenses.
Think about this story: Jack goes to work and loses his biggest and best client, because of a small mistake that could’ve happened to anyone in his industry. After getting berated by his boss (Judge) and made to feel worthless (Victim), the feeling of failure takes over and the only thing that will bring relief from this awful day is getting home to Diane, Jack’s beloved. On the way home from work, Jack plays the tape of The Judge over and over and begins to ask himself questions like “How could you be such an idiot? See, you knew you weren’t good enough. You should just quit now, at 24 years old.” (As all of the entrepreneurs reading this column laugh, identifying with that last thought.) Jack wipes the tears away and clears his throat from his eyes as he pulls into the driveway. That’s a whole lot of judging and victimization, right? Wait for it…
Diane, Jack’s young bride, has prepared the most exquisite meal for Jack. She has been waiting all day to see him. She sees the headlights pull in the driveway and her heart leaps. Jack’s mind instantly switches the moment he catches a glimpse of Diane in the window. He “knows” (thinks) that he can’t show his vulnerabilities to his new wife, or she may think he is weak and unfit to be her provider and her protector. (Judge) Jack attempts to swallow the victim and replace his tears with a stern face, but just as he opens the door, he feels a lump in his throat. In an effort to hide his emotion from Diane, he storms in the house and straight to the bedroom.
Diane pauses, with her jaw dropped. Instantly, the story begins going in her mind. “Oh my goodness I just slaved over this entire meal for him and he doesn’t even care. What a jerk! I knew things weren’t right with us. If only I’d listened to my Mother when she said he wasn’t good enough for me…” And the story continues. Victim and Judge confetti being thrown all over this relationship.
Meanwhile Jack is trying to compose himself in the bathroom so that he can slap a fake smile on and give Diane the appreciation that he knows that she deserves. She is his everything and all he needs is that incredible dinner, her company, and a warm hug. He composes himself and walks out of the bathroom with a beaming smile, but Diane is gone.
HOW MANY TIMES HAS THIS HAPPENED TO YOU?? You might not have the exact same story, but we all do this! We either judge people or situations or we victimize ourselves to protect our precious selves from being hurt. Stop being precious. Seriously. I’m talking to myself as well. This story is a small example of how those human behaviors can destroy relationships, which are the most important things in our lives.
Here is the good news: awareness is the first step to change. Once we become aware of our behaviors and issues, we can identify when we begin to do it. I have been focusing on it for weeks and I have realized that WOW! I am the most offended person in Atlantic and Cape May Counties, but I am actively growing in that area, because I am so aware of why I do the things that I do now and I am able to stop myself dead in my own tracks and say “Enough! You are judging and victimizing like crazy. Drop the story and breathe.” I hope that with this newly found awareness, you’ll be able to “grow forth” as well. Until next time Shore Locals, I am sending you peace, love, and good vibes from my home to your’s!