Someone recently posted a comment to Changes and I reacted very strongly. I asked myself why I cared so much. So what if this person was mistaken?
And then I realized it was about respect. I don't mind questions or people disagreeing with me. That gives me a chance to rethink my position and/or clarify the reasons I believe what I do. Either way, that's a good thing.
What I'm referring to is something else. If I feel I'm being scolded or patronized or generally treated with disrespect, there's a good chance I'll take your head off. I'll do it nicely, but I WILL do it. (Note: I want to make clear that I absolutely believe the person posting meant to be helpful. In no way do I believe he meant to be hurtful or malicious. At the same time, I do believe it minimized what I am dealing with. In other words, it was ignorance rather than malice.)
At any rate, my response was something fairly new for me. All my life I've jumped in to stand up for other people. I've put myself physically between abusers and those they meant to harm. I've spoken up for the right for others to be treated with respect. I've done so even when I knew it would cause problems for me.
But it's only recently that I've started standing up for myself this way. It still feels strange. I still worry that I might be overreacting or too harsh in my response. And yet I realize that it's progress to stand up for myself—rather than seething in private. (Healthier, too. A recent study documented serious health consequences for people who swallow their anger.)
Now I am NOT advocating going out and ripping apart everyone you meet! I still think it's important to consider the impact of our words and actions on others. It is still important to put myself in the other person's shoes—and try to see things from their point of view.
That doesn't meant I'll tolerate abusive words or actions. That doesn't mean I'll put up with injustice. But in my response, I will do my best to speak and act in ways that are consistent with the person I choose to be. I will condemn words and actions—not people. I will remember that each of us acts and reacts out of our own circles of hurt and vulnerability—and desire to feel better.
The comment also reminded me of the very real gender differences between men and women and how we react to and handle things. A bit of advice for any guy out there reading this: YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE WOMAN YOU ARE SPEAKING TO SHOULD FEEL. You don't. We process things differently. The more you respect what we do feel, the easier—and faster!—we can move through it.
TRUST US! We may not be able to articulate our reasons the way you can, but that doesn't mean we're wrong! Trust and respect us and we are far more likely to trust and respect YOU.
Wishing trust and respect for everyone reading here and sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))),