Unkind people and hurtful words.

By Dr GaryCA Latest Activity May 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm Views 5,586 Replies 1 Likes 11

Dr Gary

If the people around us would just be a little more supportive…

When was the last time you had your feelings hurt by the words or actions of another person? Within the last week? The last day? The last hour? The person who hurt you may have been a total stranger, an acquaintance, a healthcare professional, or someone close to you.

I often read posts here on Anxiety Connect in which members talk about their experiences with insensitive and unsupportive people. And to be honest, there are days when I wonder why there seem to be so many insensitive people in the world, and why I seem to be crossing paths with most of them.

But we need people in our lives, in various roles, even on those days when we wish we could just go it alone and not have to place ourselves in the position of being disappointed or upset by the behavior of someone we thought we could count on.

And, more important, there are a lot of great people in the world – and in our personal corner of the world – and it’s important not to become so disillusioned that we are tempted to tune everybody out.

So, here are some ideas to help you to deal with those situations that place your faith in humanity on shaky ground:

Watch your self-talk. Remind yourself not to have expectations of other people, including how they "should" think or behave. We can’t predict how people will behave, and expecting them to think or behave according to our own standards and needs only leads to disappointment. Realistically, you can only expect that they will be who they are. For better or worse.

Try not to take things personally. Remind yourself that we are all suffering in one way or another, and that suffering can lead to some very negative behavior. Maybe you just happened to be there, and that if it hadn't been you, it would have been someone else. The other person may be dealing with burdens that you can’t possibly be aware of.

Decide not to see other people as only angry and bitter. Remind yourself that each person is a full-fledged human being, and that you are only seeing one aspect of them. Admittedly, what you are seeing may look pretty awful, but it may be a cover for their tender side, the one that they are afraid to show to others. So the side they are showing may be covering sadness, fear, disappointment… the same feelings that all humans struggle with. In a word, compassion.

And tell yourself that it is not your job to change other people. Or to educate them, unless they ask for your advice, and unless they are willing and able to listen. So often, other people demonstrate how lack of understanding and just plain old ignorance can lead to unkindness.

And if that doesn’t work… remind yourself that the person who said or did something hurtful is not paying you rent, so you shouldn't give them much space in your mind. You need it for more important things.

Yes, I am encouraging you to talk to yourself a lot. Human beings do that anyway, it’s how we make sense of the world. Your self-talk can have a big impact on how you are viewing the world, interpreting what you see, and then how you are feeling and behaving.

And while you are at it, stay close to the people in your life who are supportive. Stay in touch with them, let them know how much you appreciate them, and ask them what they can do to help you. Keep working on bring more supportive people into your life. You might find that when you are feeling supported, then encountering people who are not so kind or helpful will be less likely to impact your day.

If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, it’s especially important to keep supportive people in your life, and to have coping strategies in place to deal with painful interpersonal situations. Knowing how to cope with unkind people and hurtful words being proactive, and helps you to maintain your perspective and not get knocked around by the turbulence.

We always have a choice in how we view the world. And in the big picture, the world is filled with a lot of great people.

Had any experiences with unkind or unsupportive people lately that you want to share? What do you do to help yourself get through situations like this?

We are all in this together! Stick close to your friends on Anxiety Connect.

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    Foxscribe June 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm   
    Edited June 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm by Foxscribe

    Those of us with anxiety disorder tend to have a low frustration tolerance, coupled perhaps with what Albert Ellis termed "love-slobbism," mainly an underlying, perhaps hidden belief that we must be loved and approved by practically every significant person in our lives…and if we're not, it's terrible, it's awful, and we can't stand it! I felt when I was a child that if other family members or people treated me poorly, it had to be be because of something that either I did or failed to do which I should have done! This placed a big burden on me as I on some level believed myself responsible for the behavior of others…talk about ideas to make you disturbed!

    I found it very liberating in therapy to realize that I was not responsible for how other people thought and felt, and that I could not not control them but only my reactions to them. The Zen philosophy notion that "it is what it is," both in reference to people and circumstances, is a key to mental health…