I Don’t Do Mean
I had an interesting conversation on Facebook recently, which prompted me to interrupt the flood of #BlogElul posts with a different thought. I just want to express my gratitude to the world at large, and to my family in particular, for the absence of mean people in my life.
It’s not that I don’t know any mean people. I don’t live in a bubble. There are mean people on the periphery of my life, I suppose. But nobody who actually matters to me ever does anything deliberately to hurt me.
People make mistakes, of course – I do myself, with depressing regularity. But we apologise, because we weren’t being deliberately mean – we just messed up. It’s not the same thing.
My mother dealt with mean people in her immediate family, and it took her five decades to stand up and say, don’t speak to me that way. Amazingly, when she did that, it stopped. Which leads me to ask, why didn’t she say it earlier? I can only conclude that it takes many years of therapy to break the conditioning, the brainwashing of believing deep in your heart that the mean person is right. I am glad she achieved that point and was able to make her peace with the mean people before she passed away.
I’m not a huge fan of Dr. Phil, but I do like this quote: we teach people how to treat us. I’m not blaming the victim here, but I am declaring, loud and clear, that we can stand up and say, “I don’t do mean.”
We can commit to avoiding mean behaviour on our own part, and to not tolerating mean behaviour from anyone else. I am not, by any means, claiming that this is easy. I know that we can cut the mean people from our lives, and still carry the bitterness in our hearts 30 years later.
Another quote that I like, which is apparently NOT from the Buddha but from the 12-step tradition, is that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Letting go of anger is hard, especially when it has been a comforting companion in the past. But it needs to be done.
I hope this doesn’t appear glib, especially as I have been fortunate for so much of my life. But when I see others suffering, it breaks my heart, and I wish there was something I could do to help. This is all I could come up with.
If you have an idea to share about healing from the effects of mean people, do please let me know. You never know whom you might help.