Note to readers: I am still on sabbatical for this week and next. Here's another favorite article from the past.
If you really think about it, you can probably identify times in the past day or so when you were angry - maybe so mad you tore into someone else or let the world know in no uncertain terms how furious you were.Or, maybe you can remember times in the past few days when you disapproved of something someone was doing. Maybe you were even critical or sarcastic or spoke in a sharp voice.
If you are prone to any such behaviors, perhaps then it's not hard to see that other people do just the same thing. You are living in a sea of mood changers, people who are constantly moving back and forth from OK to not OK - in and out of mood states like glad, or mad or sad. Sometimes, then, you're going to bear the brunt of bad feelings floating around out there - maybe not because you deserved the dumping - but because you happened to get in the way.
Sometimes, too, people are going to disapprove of you.
Too often, using their own internal standards of measurement, people are quick to judge others. All of us have lots of "shoulds" and "oughts" for others that we consider are coming from the Book of Truth - not from our own biased view of the world.
Both disapproval and anger are part of the human condition. There will always be someone in your world who is disturbed - and sometimes you're going to be the target of someone's disfavor.
So what do you do with anger and disapproval that come your way? Perhaps you allow another's viewpoint to be imposed on you immediately and totally. The negatives penetrate quickly to your very core.
When you experience others' anger or disapproval, you may even subconsciously conclude: "If you're mad or disappointed with me, it means I am flawed. Your view of me is much more important than my own opinion of myself. You are the source - the receptacle of all wisdom - and your view of me is indisputable. You are always correct and if you disapprove of me, my worth is reduced."
People who indiscriminately accept the view of the mood changers in their world are completely vulnerable - their fragile egos are bruised any time they encounter anyone who registers disapproval.
If you're one of those who let others' anger and negative evaluations shake you to the core, how can you protect yourself? How can you get tough and make yourself analyze the negatives coming at you instead of just letting them strike down your self-esteem? Here are some possible strategies:
- Start with the premise that anger and disapproval coming from another person have to do with that person's choices - not your worth.
Consider anger. Everyone has three basic choices when it comes to getting mad.
1. Each person has a choice as to whether or not he actually gets angry. Anger is an emotion generated by the person showing the anger - not by the recipient of the anger. (To be accurate, for instance, the parent who says to his teenager, "You make me so angry when I see your messy room," really needs to say, "I sure make myself mad when I see that room of yours.")
2. Each person has a choice as to how he shows his anger. Anyone can show anger constructively or destructively.
3. Each person also has a choice regarding how long he holds onto that anger.
Most of us have vulnerable 2-year-olds deep inside that sometimes get threatened and have temper tantrums.
When you see loud, destructive vibrations coming from another person, consider that you're hearing from the 2-year-old who doesn't like what's going on and who is going to make noise until he's comfortable again.
Just as anger has to do with other people, so does disapproval. Take 10 people in a row and you may not find two people who feel exactly the same way about something you've said or done. Each person's judgment has to do with his own experiences and background, not whether you're an acceptable person.
- You need to be the judge of your own actions. Consider any anger or disapproval from others as information - and just that. You can process information from other people to see whether your behavior has concretely affected them. If the criticism seems valid, accept it, and change your behavior accordingly. But make sure that you're the final judge of your own actions.
- Remember that you can never please all the people all the time. Once you expect you're going to incur disapproval from others, it won't be so hard to take. You've made it so far in this life - and you can continue to survive if you come under fire.
- Break the connection between others' disapproval and your worth. Talk to yourself: "This is her problem, the way she's seeing the world through her lenses - the mood she's in right now. Her behavior has to do with her lenses and her choices - not my worth."
- View yourself on the same plane with everyone else. Immobilizing yourself when others show disfavor by letting yourself be deeply humiliated and hurt comes from viewing others as being more powerful than you are. Others - their opinions, beliefs, values - count more than your own. If you differ from someone else, you're wrong; the other person is right.