There is a Woman in my life that seems to spend most of our time together criticizing me. She says things like, "Why are your eyebrows so thin, they look terrible." Or, "Your tummy is sticking out, you look fat." Or back handed comments like, "Oh, really, you know how to cook? I didn't know that!"
I took these comments really badly. So I decided to take action. My first attempt was not so successful. I would respond back to her with mean comments too! Things like, "Well your eyebrows aren't all that sexy either!" Or, "Your stomach sticks out MORE than mine!" Or, "When was the last time that YOU cooked?" I was punishing her for hurting me. Trying to pay her back. What ended up happening was that I just felt bad about myself for being cruel.
My next attempt at resolving this was nice, clean, easy avoidance! I just stopped spending time with her. Not to punish her, just to protect myself. That didn't feel good. Because along with her bad points, she also had loads of good qualities. If I didn't see her, I didn't get to experience those either.
My third attempt was to just sit there and take it. Be a victim! Oh, poor me! I even talked to other people about her words and gathered a team to agree with me! "Wow, I am SO sorry that she is doing that to you!" But you know what? That didn't make me feel better either.
What was the answer here? How could I solve this? There was no way to stop her from saying what she was going to say!
And then it came to me. She loves me, I know that with certainty. Why then would she be so unkind in her words? I put myself in her shoes. I looked at me through HER eyes and filters. What was going on inside her mind?
Can you believe that out of her deep love and concern for me she was treating me this way? This is an elderly lady, who left school and married at 15 years old. She never had a job or supported herself. Her only source of "freedom" was the pocket money that her husband gave her. She had no ability to take care of herself financially.
In her mind, she was equating my single unmarried status to my eyebrows, weight and lack of cooking skills (I am a GREAT cook but she hasn't experienced that). In her eyes, if I only lost a few pound then maybe someone would love me enough to pay for me so that I would not "struggle". With her filter - I must be sad, lonely and scared because I don't have a man to take care of me!
Do you see how sweet that is? That she wasn't being nasty to me? On the contrary, she was trying to encourage me to have security, happiness and success!
And now that I have this information, I get to be responsible for her concern by reminding her that I have been earning my own money since I was 18 years old! That I can financially take care of myself! That I have a full, fun and free life! That things aren't the way that they used to be!
I also tell her that I am not opposed to meeting a lovely man to marry, it just hasn't happened yet!
But most of all, I can be with her in a loving and empathetic way, validating her concerns, after all, she has never experienced life in the way that I have!
So, next time someone does something that just irritates you, annoys you or confuses you, go really deep and try to stand on their perch and see why they can't help but see it their way! And then love them, love them and love them.