At one point or another each one of us has had to deal with other people trying to put us down; we all encounter people like that throughout our lives. So how do you handle it?. First you have to understand the reason why others behave like that, then you can skill yourself on how to deal with it.
Let’s start by first making it very clear that whatever type of behavior others exhibit with you, is not a reflection of who you are but rather of who they are. Keeping that in mind will help you not to take things too personally. I know its sounds simplistic and if you are like me, it can take you many years to learn to accept the wisdom of this lesson. In the past I used to take things too personally; over time I’ve discovered what others think about me, has nothing to do with me. What changed?; My perception!.
Your perception, which is your focus, changes as you spend more time on your own self development. As you start embracing yourself, what others say or think about you becomes less important and less hurtful.
If you take a step back and look at it logically you encounter the following scenario: No one knows you better than you know yourself. Many of us are even struggling to fully understand/remember who we are at our core, so how can somebody else who can not see inside of you, feel like you or act like you understand or have any real idea of who you are. It is impossible; therefore their judgement is nothing but a guess at most.
In life you will encounter two different types of people who will try to put you down; those who do it overtly and those who try to be more subtle. Personally I rather deal with someone who is overt, that way at least I have a clear understanding of how they see me, or feel about me. I have a tremendous dislike for those who try to hurt me subtly as I find their conduct one of cowardice. I have always respected directness. At times I may not like it, but life has taught me to value it and respect it.
The first thing to do when others try to put you down is to remind yourself that they are intimidated by you. If you didn’t intimidate them, if you were not important in their thoughts, they would not bother to try to put you down.
Let’s say you have a dream or a goal; you will encounter three types of people. Those who will support you, those who openly disagree with you and those who will try to mock you wether openly by ridiculing your dreams or by their silence (subtle).
I learned those who try put me down usually resent something about my choices, not me personally. My belief in something disturbs them because if I focus on my dream and I work towards its fructification then they won’t be able to feel they have the right to look down at me. People who like to look down on others deep inside fear everyone. Their ego is very fragile; they lack self esteem!.
They are intimidated by you because you have bigger visions than them, or because you dare to believe in yourself in a way they can only dream of. They feel if they made mistakes and live apologizing for it, so should you. If life’s lessons made them bitter or sarcastic then it’s their belief that you too should be like that.
Another thing I have learned; which at times I still have to remind myself of; is not to tell someone else my dreams/goals until they’ve been reached. The only exception should be those who are very close to you; such as your partner or kids.
Growing up I used to get super excited about an idea and I would talk openly about it; what it was, how I was going to achieve it, etc. Life has taught me that no matter how much you plan, sometimes your best plans will have to change or you will have to postpone them. That was my case; yet those who like to put me down simply relished on my failure.
Here is an example: I had to give myself many tries at becoming a counselor. Life happened. I made some bad choices, at other times other circumstances occurred and I had to leave my goal/dreams behind. Those very close to me knew why, and even then some understood and some didn’t. It took a whole life change, and slow but steady progress before I could accomplished my goal. It took the unwavering support and guidance of my partner, his mother (who is like a real mother to me) and my kids. It took the death of loved ones to help me refocus, by then life had already taught me to keep a lot of my dreams quiet.
I came to realize there is no pleasing people. Some people will not be happy with my choices no matter what I do. If I had to quit at something they acted displeased. If I achieve something they act displeased. Bottom line, they are the ones that are displeased, but not with me, with themselves. Deep inside they know this, but is easier to point the finger or gossip about someone else. They are intimidated because I had the balls to believe in myself, to not let my past or any set backs define me; that is a very scary thing to do in a world full of people seeking approval to define their self worth.
Now don’t be surprise if some of the same people who doubted you, gossiped about you, or who have put you down, turn out to be the same people who later on ask for your help. That is what I call Karma.
Silence about my goals, plans and dreams has been my biggest ally. Remember however not to let your silence be confused with stupidity.
I can come across as quirky, nervous, care free, shy, etc. In the past it caused me some much heartache. I learned through trial and error to know when to stand up for myself. Those who know me well are aware I am no doormat, and those who don’t, quickly learn it when trying to push me around. I am not advocating anger; I am however advocating self respect. People who have self respect do not go looking for fights, but also do not let others abuse them. I learned to say what its on my mind openly, politely yet directly.
Another way to stop dealing with the hurt of others putting you down is to spend less time with them. It helps to learn to respond to your ability of choice; that is what is called responsibility. Why spend time with people who hurt you. A lot of times we complain about people putting us down, yet we still choose to spend time with them. We give ourselves a lot of excuses on why we choose to be around them, why we choose to think about them, ultimately “paying” them more attention than they deserve.
Sadly a lot of times many of us like to focus on people who put us down, maybe because we indirectly believe we have the power to change those people. Now let me ask you something. What makes them more valuable than you? NOTHING!!!.
If they need to put you down, then obviously they have a fragile ego or like to remain in their ignorance. How are either one of those two characteristics going to help improve your life?. Focus on those people who do know you, who want what is best for you, who are upfront, and from whom you have something to learn.
I decided to stop paying attention to people who only try to put me down directly or indirectly and my life started to change. Again, I am no doormat; I give people chances and try to get to know them, but if I see that all they do is try to put me down, then I don’t have the time of day for them.
Once I started to let go of negative people in my life, new experiences happened. New people entered my life. Looking back at certain times, certain amazing people I’ve met; I would not have had that opportunity had I chosen to remain focused on trying to get the approval of people who ultimately don’t approve of themselves. If they did approve of themselves they would not be looking for someone else to put down in order to feel better about who they are. People who don’t like you and want to put you down, will continue to do so no matter what you try to do to show them who you are. It is in their nature to do so, and only life can change their view. It is not your job to chase after people who have no time for you only than to mock you, gossip behind you back, or put you down.
There is a beautiful Japanese story of a great Zen Master who was being put down by a man who liked to insult and abuse people. The Zen Master, stood his ground, not by fighting but simply focusing on the beauty around him. What did the Zen Master do?. He starved the man from whatever twisted delight he got from putting others down. Ultimately then, it is a lesson of knowing when to be passive and when to stand your ground.
What am writing here is not something I just read on a book; it has been my personal experience to deal with people who like to play games, put people down, and tell half ass versions of things. I have had people invade my privacy, the privacy of my home, copy the things I do, try to join the same groups I do, play stupid games as unstable as sending stupid things to my house in order to hurt me, have their mail delivered at my house, have their friends attempt to befriend me on Facebook, etc. All to what end?, simply for sick pleasure. Those type of people can either control you by the chaos they can bring to your life, or you can control them and yourself by simply looking at their actions as that of very empty bitter souls.
There will be times when you find people who will try to justify the behavior of those who hurt you by masking it as pain. Let me be clear. Pain happens to everyone of us. We all have gone through some level of pain or other. NO AMOUNT OF PAIN GIVES THE RIGHT FOR ANYONE TO BE SO VINDICTIVE AS TO TRY TO HURT OTHERS. NO AMOUNT OF PAIN IS EXCUSE FOR IGNORANT BEHAVIOR, AND CERTAINLY NO AMOUNT OF PAIN GIVES ANYONE THE RIGHT TO TRY TO ABUSE YOU OR TO INVADE THE PRIVACY OF YOUR HOME!!!.
Many times those who are in pain, tend to hurt others in far worst ways.
Sometimes over time the scale tips way over to the other side.
In life you will encounter people like that, and if you are anything like me, you will be totally blown for a bit, because as I mentioned earlier I am used to people who deal with things face to face. It’s funny how the same people who many times try to hurt you, at other times if in your presence tend to remain in their corner. They have an image to protect. Sometimes you will encounter people who try to hurt you when others aren’t looking; those same people will try to act nice to you in front of others. You need to be careful who you surround yourself with.
When I meet people I treat them as a blank page in front of me. I don’t care what others have to say about that person, why? because we all have made mistakes in life. There are no saints. As Freud said, the more perfect a person seems the darker they are.
If a person chooses to offend me, hurt me or mistreat me, then I deal with it accordingly. Sometimes I just ignore it because of the level of their ignorance, other times however is time to be direct, first with words then with actions if needed. In the process however it is very important to recognize when the situation is worth your time and energy. You will find the more you get in touch with yourself, the less you care to fight, but you will certainly stand up when needed. That is what self respect is.
Sometimes it pays to remind yourself that time takes care of everything. Nothing can be hidden forever, no matter how secretive others may be in the way they try to hurt you or your loved ones. Time will make sure to make them accountable for their bullshit.
So starve people, meaning don’t pay them more attention than they deserve.
Focus on those who love you. Those who love you won’t put you down. They won’t try to negotiate your acceptance. Those who love you many times can give you constructive criticism, but they won’t try to make you feel ashamed of your choices, they won’t hold their love and acceptance from you as a card in exchange for you to do things the way they want you to. People who love you show you in actions that they love you in good and bad times. Those are the people you need to focus on.
Another way to stop others from putting you down, is to focus on your abilities. There is a great saying and if you are anything like me ( a fighter spirit) you will totally get this. “THEY TOLD ME I COULDN’T, SO I DID”.
I am the type of person who doesn’t hide from a challenge. I wasn’t always this type of person, as a kid I was shy. I would stand up for others, not for myself. Life’s lessons changed me in a positive way, taught me to love people, to stand up for those who truly need it, but also to stand up for myself.
This past few years specially, have been a journey. More and more I have learned to embrace my talents and not let some of my past choices dictate who I am today. No one knows why I made certain choices, and no one has the right to ever think they need me to live apologizing or to lower my head. I believe in a God force, not on a human judge. I live at peace because I believe God is more than a force who is there only for those who pay him visits once a week. I am metaphysical, so I believe everything happens as it was meant to; for a reason. The more life has challenged me the more my desire to embrace my talents. That is what each one of us needs to do. It will help you build true self esteem, it will help you succeed, and as you succeed in life you will notice how more and more the people who put you down start to disappear.
Let me make clear that when I speak of success I am not referring to only monetary success. Success to me is a fulfilling life. Success to me emanates from embracing your abilities, which usually leads to a balanced life, psychologically, physically, spiritually and economically.
So to summarize here are a couple of things to remember:
1)Do not to go around putting others down, because you never know who they really are or who they will become. Remember what it felt like to have others put you down. Do not be like those people who hurt you. A very important thing to remember is, those who put you down are really projecting their own insecurities; so is not as personal as you may think. Reminding myself of this has helped me to not even consider playing the same games others have attempted with me. Reminding myself of this, has helped me to see it for what it is. It is their problem, not mine. They have an issue, and rather than working on it, they try to put me down because that way they don’t have to work on their shortcomings.
2)Do what you love. Consume your time with the things you love. Focus on your abilities, and you will get so much energy and joy that what others say or do will barely hit you. For me, I find my energy on my writings and teaching. When I focus on these I am happy. It allows me to share my experiences with others, my life lessons, my mistakes, all take a new meaning; to me those two things are my biggest source of energy. Energy which I then can use on those who love me and whom I love; and that is what makes life worthwhile and beautiful!.