You want to change. You want to be different.
- But some of the people in your life are idiots and you can't help yourself when you respond with sarcasm.
- But there are some really rude folks at work and you feel like you have to fight fire with fire or else you'll get burned.
- But... there are also times where you're kind of the bully, and you're not super proud about it.
Ugh! It's so frustrating because sometimes your quick wit and healthy self-esteem serve a greater purpose, and sometimes it douses you in the face!
I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news: it's never serving the greater purpose.
People with self-control over the words they think and say actually have the upper hand when confronted with "idiots" and "rudeness." Quick wit is wonderful when in a mutual debate or poetry slam, but using it as a defense mechanism is what is fueling the part of you that's unsafe.
It feels so much more vulnerable to pause and to take a pass. Don't get me wrong, taking a pass doesn't mean lying down and taking abuse. It means that you're rising higher and that you're better than the defensiveness that's boiling up inside of you. It means that you're growing and that eventually you'll be far away from those "idiots" and "rude mongers." Because when you stop the game with them you become boring to them.
So here's what it looks like to work on BECOMING safer:
Acknowledge hurt you've inflicted on the people in your inner circle: your spouse, child(ren), siblings, parents, whomever it is that's truly near and dear to you. Is there a best friend who feels like a sibling? They count, too.
Tell them that you've been noticing how you've been pretty negative and you feel like you've been hurtful over the past (period of time). Tell them that because you've noticed this you want to apologize for any ways you've been inappropriate and that you're really working on being self-aware and curbing this part of you.
Know that it takes time, change happens slowly and relapse is a part of the change cycle - so you'll probably be unsafe again from time to time, but the intervals will get fewer and farther between.
The rest of the folks on the outskirts of your inner circle, you can take them on a case-by-case basis. You can just start trying to implement the self-awareness and let the relationship evolve on its own without your grand declaration.
Tasks to facilitate change:
- Start looking for things to appreciate about others. You don't have to tell them to their face (you can, but it's not necessary). Just look for it and notice it: for example, "Janet is very conscientious about keeping her files in order, it's nice when I have to look through one of hers because I can find things right away." or "Melissa always has a smile on her face, even when the people around here are griping or snapping at each other."
- Start looking for things to appreciate about yourself and your changes, for example: "I'm drained at the end of the day after all this paying attention to my stuff while also trying to do my job. I'm kind of a rock star for it!"
- Find things to compliment in the world at large. "Wow, the city counsel has really been working hard for the past few years to make this part of town greener. I can't wait until all those new trees get big and bushy."
But do you see that part there? They LOOK for ways to build others up. That's a verb. A doing word. It's a muscle that needs to be exercised so it becomes second nature. It will eventually become natural to give a sincere "good job" and to allow negativity to flow from you like water off a duck's back.
Change is exhausting at first, I'll be honest. So is starting a new exercise routine when you're out of shape. But both of those things get easier with time, practice, and consistency. You've got this!