what to do when you don’t like your response
So, in this past week I saw two Instagram announcements, saying very similar things, but they brought about very different responses in me.
The first post, the easy one for me to talk about, was an announcement of someone’s success. The success of a friend, someone I have known since BC (before children, not Christ) and it was a well-deserved, easy congratulations from me (if you’re interested, it was my friend Zoe who this week received an MBE).
The second post, not so easy to talk about. Because my reaction wasn’t so great.
It was the first post I saw on that particular day (note to self – Hannah, you know starting the day with social media isn’t clever at the best of times). It was somebody else announcing their recent success. But this time I was left churned up inside. Uncomfortable, with that funny agitation you get in your stomach when you know you’re not right about something. The feeling was maybe jealousy. Perhaps resentment. Definitely a sense of injustice.
Track back. This second person with success had hurt me last year.
They said that I’d done and been some things that to me, felt unfair and unjustified.
I’m not going to go into any details because that’s not the point of this blog, and neither would it be helpful. The point I am trying to make is that I was clearly not resolved on this. It was still triggering my behaviours.
Have you ever felt like this? When something unexpectedly knocks you off course, impacts your mood and you just weren’t expecting it to?
What was it that was going on for me that day?
I think ultimately it boils down to a feeling of unfairness, coupled with a bit of unforgiveness. I was unprepared for my reaction because I wasn’t expecting to be so wholeheartedly triggered. You see, we mindlessly engage with our phones, forgetting the power that lies in the content to impact our state of mind, our state of being, our sense of worth. I wasn’t mindful of what I was doing and the outcome was a large serving of discomfort and lack of ease.
It took a while to shake it. I felt knocked off my perch, wanting to justify myself all over again, reliving the previous incident and feeling wounded all over again. My mind was left wondering why they were experiencing this wonderful success, when on the other hand, my recent success involved being told I had accidentally won an award which I hadn’t (you can read about that particular debacle here if you’d like). Ouch. Poor me.
Except it’s not poor me. This is life. It’s painful. It hurts. This part of life, because simply put, people are people and we people things. Of course, I didn’t ask to be hurt, or misrepresented. It isn’t nice to not get the chance to defend yourself, wondering what’s being said in the conversations that are taking place with others. But it’s happened, and it will happen again. What is on me is to guard my reaction and learn to let go. I have a responsibility to myself and to my loved ones to handle these situations better. Close the loop quicker. Recognise what’s going on and make a change. So what did I do in this situation?
I moved out of self-justification-pity-party central, that’s what.
I acknowledged that this was painful, and considered why it hurt so much. Which of my values had been crossed? Why does it matter so much what this person thinks? I chose to forgive again for the pain that I had felt (forgiveness sometimes has to keep being done over and over by the way for the same incident). I also made a choice. I chose to say well done. To wish for them the best. I did the opposite to what felt natural, what felt easiest, what felt justified, I resisted the urge to satisfy my petty thoughts and said a simple well done.
And every time we do the opposite thing, resisting justification and jealousy, we get that little bit freer. Free from the need to please everyone, be acknowledged by everyone. Free to praise great achievements and successes, knowing it has zero bearing on our own ability to do well. Letting the light of good choices shine from who we are.
It’s not easy, but anything that’s tricky is usually worth it in the long run. So, if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable feelings, maybe when you hear other’s accomplishments, successes, or opportunities, take a moment. Pause to work out what’s going on with your thoughts and emotions, and then make the brave decision to do what feels more difficult.
Final point – and this is obvious, of course – what we are feeling and thinking fundamentally only really impacts upon us and our nearest and dearest – the person who caused the pain is off living their own lives blissfully unaware of what’s going on with you.
So, let it go, and keep letting it go.