Or, rather, here is one of the things.
Here is A thing...just one that is worth considering:
People are going to disappoint you.
Your feelings are going to get hurt.
This is a fact.
Sometimes you are going to feel neglected, forgotten, discarded, dissed, unimportant, and disregarded by people you count on or care about.
And it isn't always because they are unkind or thoughtless or shitty friends or selfish people.
Sometimes they are.
People can do some heinous, awful, terrible things.
But I am thinking about the little injuries of the ego. Those moments we get our feathers all ruffled because someone is not behaving the way we think they should.
It isn't always because we are right and they are wrong.
Our "should" does not eclipse fully an other's reality, no matter how strongly we feel they ought to just do what we want them to do. Or be who and how we want them to be.
People are going to fail to live up to our expectations sometimes, because they are also bobbing out there in the sea of life, juggling things and twisting themselves up in knots trying to just get by. Trying to just stay afloat. Trying to navigate other obligations and situations that might not have you right in the center of it all.
They are going to fail to return a call or a text or an email
They are going to miss your birthday.
They are going to "leave the conversation" and ignore the invitation.
They are going to miss the post in which you told the whole world what is happening for you.
They are going to miss that you two broke up. Or you two are now together.
They are going to go MIA and radio silent when you are your most chatty and desirous of their company, friendship, or insight.
Which means, they are not always going to do or say the right thing at the right moment. Or be there when you think they should be. Or show up when you think they should. People are not always going to respond to (or "like" or "love" or even acknowledge) your latest post in social media or respond to your latest crisis or drama the way you think they should.
And it's not necessarily because they don't care.
When our feelings are hurt, we can always lash out and blame others. We can chastise them with all our bitterness, crossing our arms in self righteous and self pitying rancor. And, sure, sometimes they are responsible for hefty load of that pain. They really are.
But not always.
And lashing out at others for our bruised egos and unfulfilled expectations is not necessarily going to ameliorate anything.
And that is what I am thinking about today, as I have witnessed a handful of otherwise really awesome people hold so tightly to grudges, there is no more room in them to hold much else. Because when the chip on your shoulder gets big enough, it's hard to be a shoulder to lean on.
I disappoint a lot of people. I am an overextended introvert with a lot on my plate--including daily requests for my time and company. I can't keep up with it all. And the people who love me, get that. The people who don't, don't. But I have also felt that disappointment, that hurt, that sense of being forgotten. I know how indignant it has made me, how my hurt gives rise to a few fired up explanations that all seem to point to me being in the right and someone else fucking up.
But I know better.
Because I know I don't ever hurt anyone intentionally. And I have only been hurt--really hurt and knowingly so--by one or two people in my 41+ years of life so far. And, the small slights and stabs of life-in-relation-to-others has also taught me a lot about who I am and what matters most. So, I am learning that a wounded ego need not lead to a wounded soul. I am learning not to conflate the two. I know, for the most part, we are all just doing the best we can with the resources, energy, and time we have. Day by day. And if my inner world is THAT vulnerable to someone else's humanness, I might want to take a look at that before I point the finger outward.
Regardless of what the other person did/didn't do, when the ego is hurt or our heart feels chipped, we can learn an awful lot by looking inward and questioning how our own projections, assumptions, interpretations, and expectations are complicit in the hurt.
We can ask, "What else HAS to be true for this assumption of mine about ABC to be true?"
We can ask, "What am I projecting onto this person?"
We can ask, "Have I just been asking everything and everyone to accommodate my inner needs without communicating directly or clearly why I need anything at all?"
You know, let's face it, hurt feelings can lead to a lot of strange and faulty translations. When we are wounded, we are more likely to critique others, focus on their failings, write them off, or assume the worst. And, right again, sometimes that is all spot on.
But not always.
Sometimes we are so blinded by our own needs and demands we are incapable of seeing how much someone else might be struggling.
A long time ago, someone I love very much was in the ER after attempted suicide. I could barely see straight as I rushed to the hospital. I am sure I sped, drove erratically, and ignored just about everything else that came my way for the next week or two. A few people knew where I was and what I was grappling with. A lot of people did not.
When your feelings are hurt, it's good to remember that an individual may be facing something you are NEVER going to hear about. And their absence, silence, unavailability, or erratic behavior is about what is happening in their life, not yours.
And your feelings? That is mostly about what is happening in you. Not them.
Not everyone makes public what is going on inside or behind the scenes of their lives, in which THEY (not us) are the central subject. And, because we don't always know why someone is not available or saying the things we want them to say or showing up in the ways WE read as love and care, it's a good idea to at least include--if not privilege and begin with--introspection.
The reproduction of our usual stories and interpretations.
The inner story where we are always the center and right and everything else is marginal and wrong.
What we feel when we are hurt can be informative. It need not be definitive.
So, maybe pause before you lambast people or write them off or write the manifesto that everyone else is crap and you've been done wrong. Maybe take a little look inside and see what all the fuss and hurt is really about.
These are some really important steps in the response cycle.
If you want to feel less like the victim, that is.
If you want to recover a sense of agency, that is.
If you want your response to life to be effective.
If you find that you are going through certain experiences over and over with lots of people.
As my mom said many times to me when I was growing up, "if it's 'everyone else,' it's probably you."
Among the best insights I have ever been given.
We are the common denominator in our lives, so we might as well start there.
Those who too easily blame, project, and hold tightly to a grudge might not be so surprised to discover how unpleasant that is to be around.
And, in my messy, human, flawed, learning experience, reflective people are infinitely more adept at life than reactive people. Introspection leads to better questions--of ourselves, and of others.
So, before you assume, inquire. Before you react, reflect.
People are dealing with an awful lot you don't always see or know or understand.