Rejection hurts. Neglect is painful. Being taken for granted sucks. Getting a response that you do not deserve is upsetting. Receiving defensive reactions to well-intentioned communication is sad. Why is this happening to you?
There are several reasons you may be under fire. They can be divided into three categories:
- Being human
- It takes two to tango
- Toxic Relationships
In this series of articles you will be able to understand what is going wrong in your communication in each of these categories, what to do and ultimately how this has to do with the integration of freedom and love. In this article, we will look at reactive responses as part of the role of relationships in our human growth.
Relationships are one of the toughest growing grounds in your human evolution. They test your intentions. They reveal your values. They polish your character. You cannot control others and if you think you can you are in for a terrible surprise. Every human being is a mystery and no matter how well you think you know him or her, there are so many layers of memories, feelings and interpretations in each interaction, that an unexpected, undeserved response is not at all strange.
There may be little comfort for you in knowing that you are not alone. What you really want to know is why this is happening to you and what can you do, n’est pas?
Don’t take it personally. That’s what you can do. Why? Because someone else’s actions and reactions may have little to do with you; and even when they are directly connected to what you said or did, you are not responsible for how others react.
Imagine now that you disagreed with someone. For you, your disagreement may be simply a healthy part of diversity, something interesting. For the other person, however, depending on her history and current situation, it may be any or all of the following:
- Another rejection. You’ll probably be leaving her any minute now, like many others have done.
- A judgment you are making of her, like her family is always doing.
- An invalidation of her perception, which she had to fight as a child to keep her own identity
- Another person ganging up on her, like is happening at work
- A one-up maneuver (because she is used to seeing everything as a competition)
- Another thing that is getting out of control in her life right now.
- Another proof of her insufficiency that she must fight not to feel like a piece of crap.
- A serious abyss in values that may lead to a rupture in the relationship.
- Proof of your insensitivity, not realizing that what she needs is your support and not an argument.
Do you see what I mean? None of this has anything to do with your intention. You may have used words that are emotional triggers to the person, but which have a totally different connotation to you.
But even if some of what you said and did was not as loving or supportive as it could have been, the person —not you— is responsible for the way in which she responded. Given the same situation, different persons may respond differently. For example:
- Confirming if your intention matches their interpretation.
- Being vulnerable and honest about how it “made” them feel, which opens the door for clarification.
- Closing up and distancing.
- Arguing and debating about the facts to cover up the emotional hurt.
- Fighting with you, taking their interpretations of your words as a fact.
- Trying to address the seriousness of the situations, though you may not see it at all.
- Judging you and rejecting you as the enemy.
If you said or did the same thing, yet five different people or the same person in different moments can react so differently, it stands to reason that your input is not responsible for their output. So again, don’t take it personally.
When you do not take it personally, you are free from anxiety or emotional investment. Then you can Detach from whatever dance the person is dancing and begin to see, listen and understand the underlying issues. Only then can you become part of the solution.
However, even if you are not responsible for other’s reactions, you need to look at your true intentions and real impact in the interaction because assuming that the other person is wrong is the surest way to stay stuck, not grow up and cover your own issues.
So here’s your three-step dance through a sour interaction.
STEP 1: Don’t take it personally.
STEP 2: Detach from the dynamic and listen to detect the underlying issues, and
STEP 3: Re-focus on your own intention and communication to encourage your own growth.
In Article 2, Miscommunication: It Takes Two to Tango, you will find out why it takes two to tango and how to see the mirrors in your troubled interactions.
In Article 3, “Heart-to-heart or Toxic Encounter?” you will find out if you are in a toxic encounter and what to do.
In our fourth and final article, Is it Love or Attachment?, you will find out what attachment is and how to free yourself from the shackles that keep you tied to dysfunctional relationships so that you can love in freedom and joy.