How do you feel when you find out someone has been talking about you and trying to make you look bad? It has happened to all of us... think back to a time when this happened to you... what comes to your mind? I think my initial reaction is to feel hurt and act defensively... what about you? I think it is natural to defend yourself, especially when you know you are a good person and that you "keep your nose clean". I read a quote the other day that I just love: "I must live so that if someone says something unkind about me, no one will believe it."
I think this is so true and so powerful... if you are a person of great character... truthful, kind, loving, sweet, loyal, etc... and someone speaks badly about you... nobody will believe them. WOW... makes you self evaluate, doesn't it?!
I like to think that I live this way, as a person of great character and integrity. I honestly believe that if someone said I did something horrible or was questioning my character, that people who know me would think 'that someone' were crazy! Can you say that about yourself? Do you always act and speak and think with great character? I know none of us are perfect... but we all have control over our words and actions.
I have been the subject of people's talking my whole life, and I have come to learn several things:
1) When people talk badly about you, it's really not about you... it's about them.
It is their insecurities and jealousy talking.
People talk badly about other people to make themselves look and feel better.
There is always self esteem and pride involved.
2) Most people who act this way and take this stance, really just want to be your friend, but they don't feel worthy.
3) Instead of being defensive and fueling the fire, befriend this person, it will usually turn into an amicable friendship.
The sad thing about this is that it seems this behavior should be relegated to middle school and high school adolescence... but I know far too many adults who still play this game. A few days ago, I learned that an acquaintance was talking badly about me because I did not invite her to my birthday gathering. Really?!? I have invited this person to my home several times for other parties... but my birthday this year was just a gathering of very close friends. When I heard this, I felt like confronting this woman. I felt mad that she had the gall to talk about me. I felt slighted. I'm sure you can all agree, sometimes you want an intimate setting and sometimes you want a circus. Nobody is invited to all things, and I wanted to explain that to her. But why was I letting her make me feel guilty? Why should I have to justify my actions to this woman?
When we feel wronged like that, it is so easy to sink to that unhealthy level ourselves. I had to take a step back and look at this situation from her point of view. I had to think outside my box. I had to remove my ego and think with compassion. And I did. I realized that this woman feels insecure and not liked. When she didn't get invited to my birthday celebration, to her those feelings were confirmed. She wants to have a close relationship with me, and this situation made her feel rejected. Since she and I are not as close as she would like, this situation made her feel like I don't like her.
So, looking at this with compassionate eyes, I can see why a person like that, would feel the need to talk badly about me. I don't necessarily agree with her words and actions, but I understand them. So... what do I do now with this new perspective? Do I fire back with heated words? Do I snub her and never invite her to anything else again? Do I talk badly about her? No, no, and no. I treat her with love and sympathy. I am now armed with some insight into her psyche. I can back my character with my words and actions. I can rise above the frivolous banter and be true to myself. I will not compromise my character because of someone else's actions toward me.
Situations like this will unfortunately come into our lives for as long as we live. It's how we respond to these people and situations that matter. Our kids will face situations like this as well. As a role model, do you encourage them to handle these uncomfortable situations with communication, healthy boundaries, and compassion... or do you encourage them to fight back, snub, and gossip?
Take Action: This week and moving forward, let's take the high road when someone is unjustly talking badly about us. Let's not compromise our great character... instead let's take the opportunity to let it shine. Let's evaluate how we handle these situations: Are we being a good role model? Do our actions back our character? Do we take the high road? If someone talks badly about you to your close friend, will your friend believe it or not? Let's understand where these hurtful words and actions are coming from and rise above the nonsense. If you are the one doing the bad-mouthing, STOP, evaluate your motives and grow up!
Because Together is Better,