Monday, January 08, 2007

The Lessons that Don't Stick

"I know what evil I am about to impart. My irrational self is greater than my rational self."- Medea

Some years ago, I was befriended by a family from London. They were kind enough to see me through a rough spot in my life and I'll forever be grateful for the mother, Carola, who gave me a piece of advice that I've never forgotten.

After listening to me ramble on about yet another hurt feeling, or callous remark, I remember her calm, wise response.

"You just need to realise that you're not responsible for what other people think, nor for what they think of you".

It's one of those lessons that I wish I could make myself believe all the time, as opposed to the times when I'm in the right mood to believe it.

I once had a friend who had this exact idea, though worded differently, typed out and stuck with magnets to one side of her refrigerator. These words have probably been voiced by the eloquent tongues of millions of therapists from the time of Freud until now--to the simple wisdom of common folk.

It's a distinctly human malady; this idea of letting others' opinions and thoughtless insults ruin your day. Yet, this is indeed an avoidable burden we place upon ourselves. If these things didn't matter to us, then naturally the pain involved wouldn't exist.

You've always got to consider the source and understand that most peoples' primary concern is themselves. Why would most people look outside their primary focus to care for your petty concerns, in their manner of thinking?

Furthermore, the indirect nastiness most people dish out in your direction is a result of their own inner issues and probably would be directed towards anyone with the misfortune to be in their way at the time.

In more personal relationships, people may lash out at you out of their own insecurities, because you've raised painful issues they've tried desperately to keep to themselves.

Despite all of this...their misery is not yours, and though it might be admirable of a caring, thoughtful, loving, compassionate person to try to take on their burden as your must understand that one can only deal with one's own problems.

I hope I don't sound self-rightous in stating all see, all of this advice is for my own benefit right now, as I'm recoiling from my own hurt feelings.

I wish all of this would stick permanently.

I'm not telling you all something you don't already know.

But I do hope that it sticks...and this time for good.

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