I was scrolling Tumblr the other day and came across a text post that really made me think:
I really fucking hate the fact that there are rarely any posts on here that talk about how YOU can negatively affect people. Yes, it’s important to space yourself out from people who hurt you but you also have to recognize how you are hurting people. Take some responsibility for your actions.
Wow, now there is something that doesn’t cross my mind everyday, how do I hurt other people? My first thought was that, to my knowledge I haven’t hurt anyone badly in a long time, but I do wonder in what ways I am a negative influence in other’s lives. I make a lot of effort to distance myself from people who affect me negatively but now I wonder if there are people who might distance themselves from me because I have have be a negative influence in their lives.
I mean, I’m sure the people who I think need to get their act together don’t know what they are doing or why so it is quite possible that I could be doing the same to others and not know it. The only way to find out for sure would be to ask but I think I should start by assessing myself and what ways I do know I can be a negative influence in the lives of others.
I can be very condescending and dismissive. I have always been afraid that I make people feel bad by talking down to them as if they were stupid. I never mean to do this of course but there have been many instances in my life when a person has come to me and said that I have made them feel stupid or was dismissive of their opinions.
When I feel like I am right I state my case and then, for me, that is the end of it. It doesn’t happen often, and only in cases of debates over social issues and in the workplace when working with a team on a project. Once I see something as the “right way” anything anyone else says means nothing. In here is nothing the other person could say that would top a point I have already made. I am right and that is the end of it.
I know this is incredibly egotistical and I know I shouldn’t think like this but it is my nature and as much as I try to change I do fall into old habits sometimes. I need to hear other people out and be more of a listener and not continually dismissing the thoughts and feelings of others. For one, I hate when someone does it to me and we should always treat others the way we would want to be treated. And two, I am not so smart that there is nothing I could learn from others if only I would give them a chance.
I think I have a corner on suffering. I have been through a lot of hard times. Not a lot, but more than most. When I hear others complain about their lives and I feel I have picked myself up from worse my first thought is that they are whiney cry-babies. It pains me to write this about myself because deep in my heart of hearts I respect everyone’s struggle, but I am human and I think bad things sometimes too. Sometimes these feelings may show on my face and I tend to make other’s feel like their suffering is small.
There are times when I believe this is justified, such as in the case of what we call a “first-world” problems. Starbucks being out of hazelnut syrup or your charger cord snapping is a first-world problem and I do not feel sorry for you. But where when people complain that they are really having a hard time in their relationships, in their finances, or in their work life and I feel they have gone on long enough I will often tell them, in the nicest way I can, that it’s not that bad and either fix it or shut up. This is extremely invalidating and, once again, I would hate it if it someone did it to me.
And lastly, I am a chronic enabler. On the surface this doesn’t seem like it’s so bad but I really have trouble with telling people no and setting boundaries. While this may seem like it only creates a negative effect on my end, after awhile it does start to impact the other person when I begin to resent them.
The pattern is always the same,I tend to try my best to be nice and accommodating to another person. They begin asking me for more and more of my time or my money. I give them the benefit of the doubt even when others tell me to say no or to talk to the other person about what they are asking of me. Of course I don’t because I hate confrontation and don’t want the other person to feel bad. Then they push me too far but by that point I am so confused about why I am helping this person anymore that I don’t know how to explain how I feel, so I start being passive aggressive.
I make snide remarks, I get short with them, I joking tell them thing I think but not in a way that they could ever understand what I really want from them, which is to give me a break. Eventually I get so frustrated that they haven’t gotten any of my “hints” that I blow up and make them feel like crap. Then I feel terrible and say I am sorry and do something nice for them and they think every thing is ok so they go back to asking for more than I can give and the cycle begins all over again.
Instead, I need to learn to say no and express my feelings better. I need to stop worrying so much about pleasing people and making them feel comfortable all the time. I don’t mean being mean I mean being honest. I think in the long run my relationships with other people would benefit from the boundaries and other people would respect me more. And, if nothing else, people wouldn’t be negatively affected by me being passive-aggressive and they might gain some awareness of the negative effects they have on other people.
I think there are ways that we all are, unintentionally, negatively affecting the people around us and it is a good exercise to occasionally look at ourselves and try to make changes to our own thoughts and behaviors. No one wants to be mean or to hurt others but we do, the important things is to take responsibility and do our best not do it again. We all want other people to be a good influence in our lives, we have to do it for other people too, right?
How might you be hurting other people?