I wrote the other day of receiving some unnecessary hostile and judgmental treatment from a complete stranger. As I have continued to reflect on the communications I received, I am further convinced that this kind of aggressiveness had no place in our interchange or any communication between two people. There is just no need to be aggressive and unfriendly, whether it is toward a person you know or to a complete stranger you have labeled based on other people you have known.
That being said, first impressions can be tricky, particularly those made via a medium like email. In my own experience, I have been wrong on so many occasions when I have made assumptions about a person’s character or their feeling about me as a person upon our first meeting.
I instantly infer from a person who seems standoffish or unfriendly that I have done something to offend them in the first 60 seconds of our time together or that they simply don’t like me. And then, my tail between my legs, I proceed to agonize about it after, creating all kinds of allusions and stories in my mind.
I begin listening to my inner critic listing out everything I could have done wrong. My clothing was wrong. I made a face. I made a joke they didn’t understand or found offensive—I have a tendency to tell Jewish jokes when I am nervous; just keep them laughing and they will like me seems to be my fallback behavior.
I have learned that these initial interchanges have very little to do with what comes after. A woman who I thought detested me became one of my dearest friends from my time living and studying in Africa. Months into our study abroad program, I asked her if she had not really liked me when we first met. She told me she had been filling awful from severe cramps while menstruating.
There was a woman I knew in college who I always thought disliked me. We were in the same circle of friends, but I always felt uneasy around her. We spent an evening together just after graduating, and somehow confessed a fear we had both shared. I had thought she disliked me, but her own actions were stemmed by her own fear that I disliked her.
Seems like a waste, doesn’t it?
I have been wrong so many times that I now realize there is more going on than any of the stories I create in my mind.
I also have come to realize that there is more to one person’s reaction to another person than meets the eye. They may feel uncomfortable or jealous if a person is embracing life more fully than they. Or it may simply be that one person is having a bad day or going through a divorce.
And therein lies the secret.
I don’t know what is going on for most people, so I am trying my best to let go of whatever hostility or other less than desirable energy they may be sending my way and try as well to not engage the proverbial beast.
I still feel the sting of present and past hostilities, but I do not wish to wallow in the sting. When I feel the sting and can sense the desire to stay there, I know it is time for some aloe, sage burning, or whatever else it takes to cleanse my emotional pallet.
What remedies do you use for forgiving and forgetting, or at least for moving on.