Lesson Of The Day: Sometimes people are cold. Sometimes, you’ve done something to upset them. Sometimes, you haven’t. Sometimes, I obsess over it.
Maybe it’s a co-worker who always says good morning to you and today they just walked right by. Other times, it could be a friend who hasn’t returned your call. Maybe even a family member who snapped at you.
My heart makes it my mission to please that person. I run every conversation we recently had over in my mind and I try to figure out why that person is upset with me. I try to make it up to that person even if I don’t know what it is that I’m making up.
In my mind, I battle with the logistics. Should I ask them if I’ve upset them? Should I give them space? Should I apologize? Maybe they’ve just had a bad day. Maybe they have a million thoughts going through their mind. Maybe they were simply day dreaming off in another world.
The truth is, it is only personal if we make it personal. Instead of obsessing in desperation and trying to be a people pleaser, we sometimes just need to bite the bullet and deal with the situation like a grown up.
Easier said than done of course. How do we do that?
It starts with looking inward, I believe. There are questions I ask that help me to decide which course of action to take.
I know that in the past, I have unintentionally alienated people from my life. Sometimes, it was as silly as forgetting to give someone my new phone number. So, the first question I ask myself is if it feels intentional.
If someone hasn’t returned a phone call, maybe I should try e-mailing. If someone walked by and didn’t say hi, maybe I should go to them and say hello. It’s not always the cold shoulder.
Sometimes it feels intentional. If someone has cut me off mid sentence or is overly direct or sarcastic, I feel patronized. I feel as though my thoughts or feelings have been diminished and it feels more direct.
These situations are a little more difficult. Waiting it out is only going to cause more inner anguish. So talk about it. Remember that a little bit of kindness can go a long way. Approach everything you do in life with love… and your heart will be protected. A simple, “Is everything OK?” should usually suffice and I don’t need to bring any of my own assumptions into it right away.
Even though, “yes” and, “no” are the only two black and white answers to your question, life isn’t always black and white. You’re going to get one of three answers.
“Yes, everything is OK” – and you will believe it.
“No, everything’s not OK” – and you can start to work through it.
“Yes” or “No” – but somehow you just don’t buy it.
No matter the answer, there is still only one way to deal with it. Love.
If everything was fine but they were just off day dreaming, you can sigh out some relief. Smile and remind them that you love and appreciate them. If anything else, it will just brighten their day to know they are appreciated and settle your anxieties.
If the answer was no. It may or may not have had to do with you. If it was about something or someone else, you can simply remind them that you’re there to be a friend and to love and support them as much as you can.
It can be a tough pill to swallow when it’s something they feel you have done. The first step is to listen. Hear the person out without interjecting. Show empathy and try to see things from their perspective. If you truly feel you’ve done nothing wrong, just remember that defensiveness will only aggravate the situation. You don’t have to accept responsibility.. you can talk things out and let them know how you feel. If it’s a relationship you care about, you care about how the other person feels. I sometimes say something like, “I am so sorry you feel that way. I can feel that way sometimes too.” Simply remind them that you value your relationship. You love them and you don’t like what is happening. Rest assured, the other person usually feels the same way. From there it’s easier to come to a compromise.
If you don’t get a straight answer at all when you ask someone if everything is OK, it can be frustrating. You’ve put forth an effort to try to mend whatever rift you’re feeling and it’s just not being reciprocated. Pushing for an answer can only cause more animosity. Maybe the other person is going through something very personal and isn’t ready to open up. That being said, love is always the answer, right? You’ve opened the door to communication and even if the other person isn’t ready to talk, you can let them know that you value and appreciate them. Let them know that the door is always open to talk and that you love them. At least this way, you’ve done something to work on how you’re feeling. You’ve done the right thing and you can take a few deep breaths, smile and move forward.
Just know that nothing in life and in relationships is personal until you make it so. I try to encourage people in my life to communicate with me. I would rather someone call me out on my short comings or bad judgement calls than to have them hold some sort of resentment against me. We are all human. We can make bad choices and do things unintentionally. We need to hold each other accountable because sometimes, “love is an easy thing to miss.”
Let me know in a message or in the comments if you find yourself taking things personally and have any useful ideas on working through it.
Always remember, “love is all you need”.