A repeated Lesson: The proper response

Photo by Meghan Duthu on Unsplash

Properly responding to someone who drives you mad and crazy needs preparation. Let’s face it, everyone is faced with such moments. This might just be one of your melancholic readings for today but read on to know the how-to.

Have you ever been in a situation where you got so upset you were left speechless?  I have… too many times!

A friend

An incident some 7-8 years ago happened with a so-called friend who slandered me. I was not there to defend myself and heard only through our mutual friends afterwards what she said. They have no idea what really happened between us and only heard her version of the story. Even though I wanted to defend my stance to them, my real target was her and there is no way for me to reach her. I’m not able to tell her off—I kept my silence and just severed our ties.

A family member

One summer while visiting family, I encountered the same incident with a female relative who crafted stories about me and and spread it among her friends–some of whom haven’t even met me or was briefly acquainted. On the last day of my visit, I called her to try and reason out why I withdrew, cut off communication and would not acknowledge her presence when she’s in the room. Instead of listening to me, she yammered on and on trying to make her self-made story sound even more authentic. She was neither regretful nor concerned of our situation. What mattered to her was how good she felt with the attention and her stories.

Have you ever been placed in this situation where you physically felt the pain from the inside? I couldn’t sleep properly and if I did it was restless. I was having stomach cramps and my breathing felt very shallow. My face was forever in a frown.  I was distraught, upset, angry and horrified that here were people who could easily betray me and my confidence. All I could talk about for a while was my friend or female relative and the circumstances.

It felt like I was back to square one on this life’s lesson. How was I suppose to respond? Why should I suffer through this again? There were plenty of tears shed and some wondering on who to really trust. This is where my Emotional Intelligence failed me. Even now, I still consider my reactions to both incidents inadequate. It felt like I took the blade from the hands of the instigators and struck it straight to my heart.

How to respond

A couple of weeks ago I watched a video of Marisa Peer’s TEDx talk on “How to avoid rejection and get connection.” She gave five ways to deal with rejection. These five ways showed me the proper response. They are as follows:

  1. Thank you for sharing that.” (Is a statement to not let the rejection in but still allowing them to speak their mind)
  2. Would you repeat what you said more slowly?” (Allow them to self-reflect on what they said)
  3. Are you trying to make me feel bad about myself?” (Allow them to explain themselves and give yourself an emotional distance to what they said)
  4. That’s not going to work because I am not going to let it in.” (State specifically how  you will not allow yourself to be hurt by what they said)
  5. Do you know that critical people have the most criticism reserved for themselves? You are showing me and others how dissatisfied you are with yourself when you behave like this.” (It’s important to say this without sarcasm because you are calling the person out for what they are doing, which is hurting themselves.)

She ended her speech with a metaphor of a holy man with a journalist who doesn’t like him and kept verbally abusing him. The holy man kept smiling the more he was abused and finally the journalist asked the holy man why he was smiling. The holy man’s answer was If you gave me a gift but I didn’t take the gift, who has the gift?”  This thought was extraordinarily liberating because it provided me with a beautiful perspective.

If you gave me a gift but I didn’t take the gift, who has the gift?

Having the proper, level-headed response in any given situation is what I needed to prepare myself for. My answers should not be based on the emotional burden of being rejected or the circumstances I am placed in but to call the person’s actions out for what it is. Oh, I know how easy it is to just say these things but SO difficult to execute in such strenuous and emotionally-charged situation. I know it too well.

As Maya Angelou once said, “do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” 

I will definitely try my best to give the right response because now I know better.