Life Isn’t Always About You

“The way other people treat you has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them.”

It wasn’t too long ago that I was really unhappy with who I was. I was self-conscious, insecure, and overly consumed with the way people perceived me. I couldn’t understand that people actually wanted to spend time with me. Because of this, I would become irritated when I didn’t feel good enough, and defensive when I was wrong. I couldn’t take constructive criticism at work, with friends, my family, and even strangers who I may never see again.

You know the phrase: everyone you meet is teacher? Well, I was in for a rude awakening when I met my teacher. My teacher was a friend who I met in college and was someone I spent a significant amount of time with. I would do or say something he didn’t agree with and then would proceed to call me out in front of our friends. Humiliating? Yes. Made my cry? Yes. A tough lesson I needed to learn? Double yes.

At first, I thought, “Oh my gosh I am so stupid. Why did I say/do that? Why am I not cool enough, smart enough, fill in the blank enough?” And it really, really bothered me. I decided to bring it up to him and he immediately got defensive. I learned quickly that he was never going to change. But what could change is my perception of the situation.

I realized that the way he was acting had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with him. Happy people don’t belittle others. Happy people don’t feel the need to embarrass others in front of their friends. And happy people treat other people with kindness because they feel kindness in their heart. No matter what you say or do, if the other person isn’t happy, they will always find a reason to make sure you aren’t either.

I’ve seen this lesson play out in so many other areas of life. Example: I was waiting in line at the grocery store and the person behind me was complaining because the line was taking too long. For them, they may have already had a bad day and just wanted to get home. Does that have anything to do with me? No! Everything to do with them? Yes!

When people are unkind (or anything but nice), something else is going on behind the scenes. The only reason I was able to recognize this was because it used to be me. While I didn’t belittle others, or call them out in a public arena, I still had that little bit of unhappiness behind my intentions.

We always jump to conclusions when people are rude; usually thinking it has something to do with us. But when we take a step back and realize it’s really them that has the issue, we can relax, take a deep breath, and give them a big dose of the kindness that THEY really need.

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