This was the conclusion to a terse exchange between me and someone I’d reached out to on a social media platform.
It was the end of a pithy back and forth after their first reply to me had seemed to be derogatory both to me and a particular profession.
Of course there are so many potential responses to someone else’s perceived aggression.
Apologising for offence triggered.
Generally, I have enough perspective to stay quiet when someone is acting out.
It seems to me a reflection of their state of mind rather than an indictment of my communication, though I’m open to the possibility of there being room for improvement, of course.
In this case, I felt I wanted to experiment with saying ‘That’s not OK’
It was interesting to see what unfolded.
That’s not really the point of this story, though.
You see, I felt hooked in, not by how this person was behaving, but more about a niggly little thought that stayed with me for a few hours after: ‘What if he has a point?’
Again, we can respond to grains of truth from so many different perspectives.
The neutral position is: ok I’ll evaluate that feedback and judge for myself if it’s worth accepting or rejecting.
The defensive position: who do they think they are to judge me? How dare he cast aspersions?
The doubt position: they’ve pointed out something and now I’m questioning my whole philosophy and values
The collapse position: I feel bad for who I was being; this is an indictment of my value; I feel shame.
You’ll notice, that none of these positions is about them.
It’s all about me (or you if they resonate) and how I respond to my own thoughts in the moment.
When we get hooked, it’s as if that thought has a velcro property to it.
It keeps coming back.
The thought ‘What if he has a point’ connects to a deeper belief and more intense feeling:
‘I’m not good enough.’
There are lots of ways of working with such beliefs.
One of the most effective and quick ones I’ve been experimenting with over the last few years, is self-forgiveness.
A feeling deep into the heart of forgiveness for the judgement or belief we have for ourselves.
From self-forgiveness, we come back to clarity and compassion.
In the case of the person who told me my message is dumb, I felt more compassion.
If we’re rude to strangers, who must we talk to ourselves?
How might we self-shame?
It doesn’t mean I accept the rudeness of others.
Kindness and politeness are high on my list of values.
My boundary stays firm, but I can return to a place of curiosity and service when my mind clears and I detach myself from the velcro thought.
So where are you getting hooked by velcro thoughts?
What beliefs do those thoughts tap into?
What opportunities are there for leaning into self-forgiveness when you find yourself stuck in a loop?