Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coexist XIV- Social Situations

You can probably tell by the name of this blog that I am not confortable with conflict or confrontation. Coexisting appeals to me, in part, because I lived through a few horrific years of conflict and rage. In those years I became quite adept at expressing my anger, then I learned, I grew and I had to depend on God's healing to go on living a productive life. I intend to never go there again. I had to be done with anger.

Judgment is often a precursor to conflict. It is difficult to be at peace when your mind is focused on the weakness, opposing opinions or wrongdoings of other. This year I found it difficult to deal with those that had vehement political beliefs that I did not share. I was completely okay with their beliefs, but they weren't okay with mine. I did not voice my opinions in order to avoid the conflict or hurt feelings it may have caused.

I'm not sure that was a good solution. How do you deal with social situations when people are critical or judgmental of you, what you believe, or what you choose to do with your life? When you are constantly hearing pejorative remarks about yourself and your interests - how do you react? I am always blindsided by comments like you must have too much time on your hands or you need to get a life or something else that infers that my interests in writing, blogging or any other creative endeavor I choose to pursue is a waste of time. I feel foolish when I have no comeback for these comments even though it happens at every get-together. I don't anticipate being put-down because I do not concern myself with what others choose to do with their life.

At work I often encounter teachers that compare how much work others have or how hard (or not) they are working. I never think about what another teacher is doing - I have enough to worry about with my own job, let alone someone elses! I assume everyone is doing their best.
In these social situations (that I hope to enjoy) I suppose I can continue to take the negative comments that feel like a slap in the face and turn the other cheek for the next slap. But I have a relentless and annoying need to understand why. Am I offensive in some way? Are they trying to boost themselves up by putting me down? Is it a joke and I don't get the punch line? Do they truly think so little of me? Any advice out there in the blogosphere?

Coexisting includes allowing others to have differing opinions and not be enraged by them. Coexisting allows others to make their own life choices without judging them. I certainly have not always lived up to these standards, but the older I get the easier it seems to let others be as they are. It is not my concern. Jesus accepted, befriended and loved the sinners in His path with no conditions. I am not even close to that ideal, but I am working on it. I find that allowing others to have their own opinions and live the way they see fit is freeing. I no longer carry the burden of judgment. That is God's job, not mine. And His world would be a boring place if we all did and thought alike.

During the Presidential campaign, the reporters could not wait to get Obama's comments on the newly revealed pregnancy of Sarah Palin's unwed teenage daughter - I loved and admired his comment, which I think is the essence of coexisting, even in competition when he could have slammed the Palin family.

He simply said - "My mother had me when she was eighteen years old."
That's coexisting peacefully.


RachelW said...

I wanted to say how much I am enjoying your blog, which I came across only recently. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself!

Sandy's Notes said...

I find that the healthier I get mentally, the more people don't understand me. I too share your thoughts here and find comfort in them. I have learned that keeping my opionions to myself are better for me, simply because they are mine, and I don't care if someone, whom I may not care for anyway, has an opinion on them.

Remember Diane, the healthier you get, the less friends you may end up having. You are a peace with yourself and what your life has brought you. Your gentleness radiates and shows through. If someone finds themselves threatened by it, so be it. If they truly want to like you, they'll come around and find out what you're really like.

I have this quote on one of my blogs, "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great." Mark Twain. I love referring to it when I need to.

Thanks for posting this, I'm right there with you.

CJM-R said...

Good post, Diane and one I can relate to. I tend to want to shy away from social situations because I am not good with the comebacks. Not that I feel I should shoot anyone down, but rather, stand up for myself in a kind way.

Some people get mad at me because they think I defend people too much. I guess when someone is being knocked down, I try to say something positive.

I am still figuring all of this out myself, but I do agree with Sandy above. The healthier one becomes it is harder to fit in with the dysfunction of society.

won said...

I just found my way to your blog tonight, and your essay gave me reason to pause and think. For that, I am appreciative.

I am working real hard at releasing conflict in my life. Yet, I find if I say nothing when I feel attacked or provoked, it does not feel authentic. Then I later become upset with myself.

For my own well being, I must say something, so this is what I choose to say:

In this example, let's just say you asked me how much money I make each year. I would respond with a tone as sincere as I could and reply "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

You would presumably repeat the question (or comment, etc.) and I merely shake my head gently and reply "I thought that is what you asked."

It allows me to walk away with my sense of self intact, while setting a boundary...or at least thus far it has.

John Ettorre said...

Dear Diane,
I think Sandy's comments are right on. Sadly enough, angry, depressed people often tend to be like human radars, honing in on those who are happier and more mentally healthy, trying to tear them down. You need to try to ignore that as much as possible.

But your problem of having those around you dismiss your creative aspirations reminds me of why I always remind writers that they need to spend some time with other writers, because in the end, they're really the only ones who understand us and why we do what we do. My hope for you in '09 is to get thee to an occasional writing group, however informal. And a happy, happy new year, Diane!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Such comments are often the result of jealousy or fear. (Fear that if you are right in your pursuits, then they must be wrong in ignoring them.) Try not to let them trouble you.

FranIAm said...

I just read this now - sorry for the lateness of the comment, but you have left me speechless here.

Remarkable post is all that I will say! Truly remarkable.