Remember when you were a child and you wanted to go to a friend’s house or even as a teen when your parents said NO! We don’t want you going to that concert. As a child or teenager, you likely felt that your parents are just assholes and mean and just want to keep you hidden from the world and destroy your social life.
Do you remember all the times you believed that your parents were just being mean when they refused to let you do or have something you wanted? I recall one time in particular with my children and always having to be Mean. I have three sons. When they were little, my two oldest sons who were quite older than my youngest son who was only 4 yrs old at the time, snuck some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies from the kitchen. My youngest, being a preschooler, asked me for a cookie. I had no idea his older brothers already snuck a cookie behind my back. I told him no. He ran off crying and his brothers told him that they got a cookie and he didn’t because I love them more or that I didn’t love him at all. He believed I was mean and would always retort with “you Meanie! I am going to tell my daddy on you”.
I remember when I was a young teen and I was always told “no” when I wanted to do anything with anyone outside the church. I was forbidden to go to the arcade with my friends (yes I’m old). I wasn’t allowed to walk to the corner store. I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16. I was forbidden to do a lot.
I would often say things like, when I have kids, I am not going to treat them like this. As I grew up and actually had kids of my own, I realized that sometimes you have to be “mean” out of love. Sometimes what is perceived as someone being mean is actually them being kind to protect you from harm of some kind that you can’t see.
Even as adults we are quick to assume that something that doesn’t feel nice is bad. that it is someone just being mean. A friend could say something that hurts your feelings. You may think that the person is just being mean and not really your friend. I assure you that quite often when you get a REAL friend, they will tell you if you have a flaw in your thinking or in your behavior that needs to be addressed. They tell you because they don’t want you to be ridiculed and made to feel bad by people who will only judge you or to prevent you from going through unnecessary suffering. I recall a time when a friend didn’t believe in wearing deodorant and had horrible Body Odor.
The others in the group would talk behind his back about how bad he smelled (because people are mean that way) and he already had a difficult time “fitting in” with the other Wiccans because his differences made him seem “weird”.
He got angry with me although I was careful to remain discreet and I said it as kind as I could. Sometimes you can only sugar coat something so much. It is important to keep in mind that sometimes people will tell you things that are hard to hear or listen to but if you listen from a place of openness and kindness instead of a place of defensiveness, you can use negative feedback to help improve your game or your Life.
Bottom line, people who love you and are good for you will always try to help you even if it is simply pointing out a changable flaw that needs attention.
I don’t mean the so-called honesty that is an intended attack but honesty spoken with love or through a place of love. I had this acquaintance who pointed out all of my flaws in my physical appearance. Flaws I can’t really do anything about. She did that because she intended to hurt me and make me feel bad because she felt insecure around me and wanted to cause me to feel insecure too.
Because I am capable of receiving negative feedback from a place of honesty and love, I was able to determine that the only reason she was doing that was to make me feel insecure about myself and it had nothing to really do with me but her own insecurities. It didn’t hurt my feelings but it let me know what type of person she was because it was intended to be mean. the difference was that I knew what she was saying was true. I am fat, I do have yellow teeth, I do have health issues. I am old and I am not that attractive anymore. I know all that and I am emotionally detached from my physical appearance or what others think about my physical appearance. What I mean by that is simple. I don’t value my worth according to my physical appearance.
I finally sat with her one day and told her that I don’t really believe that our physical appearance matters all that much when it comes to everything other than dating. It is my life’s goal to simply always be my true and authentic self whatever that may be at any moment in time. I told her that I believe that the things that are important to me and…well, directly, just being the authentic Me, I hope it will attract the right people to me. At that moment, I absolutely believed what I told her. Now, I know for a fact that the right people will be attracted to me as long as I am the true and authentic me whatever I believe that to be at that moment.
This person’s opinion or the “pointing out my flaws” in my appearance didn’t bother me because I was already aware of them and had accepted them about myself. She couldn’t hurt my feelings using those things because I have already recognized them and accepted them and I know what I can and can’t do to change them. I also don’t need validation based on my general appearance.
When a friend or boss pulls you aside and tells you about a problem that you need to look at and resolve, it isn’t to be mean to you. It is to help you to improve so you don’t get fired or have some other negative experience that could have been avoided had you listened to them from an open and receptive place.
I have found that people in general who can’t take helpful criticism or negative feedback are usually not on a path of self-discovery or self-improvement and usually have low self-esteem even if it is masked with arrogance and narcissism. If you find yourself getting your feelings hurt or feeling angry and betrayed by your friend or family because they tell you things that are difficult for you to hear, I recommend that you stop and ask yourself why you are so upset. Why did this piece of information hurt your feelings? Is it true? Do you believe it is true and you don’t want to work on yourself and make improvements that will get you real compliments that feel good? if you don’t place value on your “perfection” and accept that you are human and you are flawed and everyone can already see it so you might as well be humble and accept it because your strengths make up for all that may be less than perfect. The one thing about perfection is that it is not real. Nothing will ever be perfect. There is no such thing. It could be perfect for something or someone but it in and of itself will never be perfect. Everything is flawed in some way and imperfection is beautiful.
I hear a lot of complaining from lots of people but when a solution is offered, different options to choose from, or even a different perspective that resolves their complaint, they get so freaking angry because they only want to gripe and complain about life and never actually DO anything with real intent to change the situation whatever it may be.
I am the type of person who hates having the social lies and bull crap thrown at me. You know, the kind of flattery that people use to manipulate others. I find it difficult to trust people who do that although it is socially expected in most cultures. I don’t offer flattery as truth although I have told others what they wanted to hear because I tried the truth in the past and they don’t want the truth but only to be flattered. These people are in self-denial of themselves and if you tell them the truth that doesn’t promote their cognitive distortion about themselves, they get outraged by it and set out to destroy you for destroying their delusions of their lives and who they are. yes, I said delusions. You can change it to Cognitive Distortions if you like.
Lying is not a skill I do well with. I often warn friends and family that if they don’t want the truth, I mean my true opinion or thoughts about something, they should avoid asking for my opinion because I will give you my honest opinion. I am one of those people who believes that one can not change what one does not know is a problem. If you are asking, it must be because you need to know the truth to make final adjustments or fine tune something or make something better. I am all for helping to make something better.
With my first Roommate, we had an agreement. If we were getting ready for a date, we would ask the other about our appearance. If we thought the other looked perfectly attractive, (our best), if we didn’t need to improve our appearance the other would say, “I’d Do you”. If not, a suggestion was offered. That is how we offered support to each other. Friends don’t let friends be seen with spinach in their teeth or toilet paper on their shoe without letting them know. They also don’t let their friends look stupid when they are trying to make an impression on someone such as a date, job interview, or business meeting.
I find that I have been called mean more than once for giving my honest opinion about a project someone was working on. It was solicited. They asked what I thought of it. When I am asked for my opinion, I am going to give an honest review so that you can up your game and rise above the rest or at least give you a fighting chance. That is why I am sometimes called mean. It isn’t mean, it is out of love and actually an act of kindness. Just because someone offers you unsolicited information or advice doesn’t mean they are demanding that you agree with them or that you have to implement whatever it is that is being shared with you.
Sometimes there are things that someone needs to know that will help them in what they are doing. For example, I know someone who is working on their first novel. I have read the first four chapters and noticed that he obviously had some issues with knowing basic creative writing rules to help create the flow and ease for the reader to follow conversations and such. I let them know that the story was coming along nicely and I offered to share some basic writing tips to help. He declined and so I left it at that. When your advice is unsolicited, don’t expect the recipient of your unsolicited advice is not exactly receptive. Don’t expect people to just take you at your word and just follow your advice as if it is a law or something. Hell, even if it is solicited, they are really asking for your opinion based on your experience, understanding, and knowledge of the subject so that they can make a more informed decision.
Just because someone asks for advice doesn’t mean they are asking you to make the decision for them.
When someone says something “MEAN” to you, and you are upset and hurt by it, stop and ask yourself, “why am I so upset about this“. Sit and just allow your feelings to come. When you feel it, sit with it for a few and just feel it. Don’t ruminate on how mean it was, but how you feel at the moment about it. Let your thoughts happen but don’t hold on to them or examine your thoughts. Just let them come. finally, ask yourself clarifying questions and listen to your inner voice to answer them honestly. Deceiving yourself doesn’t serve you in a positive way. You aren’t cheating or deceiving anyone but yourself when you lie to yourself about how you feel, what you think, or denying a flaw exists. Sorry, nobody is perfect and everyone knows it.
Even in Alcoholic Anonymous, they tell you that you have to admit there is a problem before you can fix it. I have found that people who have verbally attacked me using my flaws can only hurt my feelings if I believe that their accusations or statements are true and I am still emotionally attached to it.
Many people are sensitive about their looks and their reputation of their character. In NYC, just before I left, I had gotten sick and tired of being asked for spare change from people who had more money and resources available to them than I did. I get tired of the scams that people come up with and I get tired of people trying to manipulate me out of what little resources I actually have when they are quite capable of earning more money than me because they are young, healthy, and have some skill. These people could easily go get a job doing physical labor and make more than me.
I was paying for breakfast that cost me $1.50 with my last $20. that I had to stretch for another two weeks. I had no groceries at home and only had a metro card and my $20 bill to sustain me for the next two weeks when I will get another paycheck that is cut by an extra 50% for a debt that will never end. This young healthy man dressed in designer clothes with designer shoes stood behind the people buying a bagel and/or Coffee just to beg them for what little money they had. That was the last straw for me. I couldn’t take it anymore.
When he asked me for money, I retorted for him to go get a job. He got angry and called me a fat ugly bitch. I didn’t get my feelings hurt at all. Yep. I was a fat ugly bitch because I wasn’t about to let him scam me out of money that I worked hard for and desperately needed to survive. I told him the truth regardless of my attitude about it. My reply to his retort was “I may be a fat ugly bitch But I Have A JOB!”. I went on to my job so I could make a few dollars to keep me from living on the streets of NYC although I was living on the edge of starvation and homelessness.
I have discovered recently that when I allow myself to react from an irrational emotional place instead of intellectual, I come across stupid and insane. However, if I am in control of my emotional reaction, I am heard. Unfortunately, I speak what I truly think and feel about whatever it is I am talking about. Not everyone can hear the truth. I found that not many people can stand to listen to anything that is different or not in agreement with their own perspective or opinion.
Just the other day, I tried to offer more information about the holistic ways one can treat their Diabetes without the use of insulin or other synthetic drugs but with diet, exercise, and herbal supplements. I wasn’t telling him that he should, only that he has the option. By the end of the second sentence, he cut me off and started yelling over me that there is NO WAY he could manage his out of control diabetes with anything other than his drugs that aren’t really working. Then he tells me that I am the one who is mean and unreasonable because I tried to offer him information about his health that could have greatly improved his condition.
What is the harm in listening to an opinion or information even when it isn’t what you want to hear or agree with? If you are hurt or having a problem with someone, really take a look at the situation and your role in it. Just so you know, that person with the Diabetes is so mad at me for offering information about a different option of treatment for his disease that he won’t talk to me anymore. He isn’t the first and won’t be the last person I piss off because I care enough to share that information. I am not argumentative, I just don’t cow tail and accept others opinions as a fact at face value and I don’t expect others to do that either. that’s stupid, right? Not.
I have people in my life who get offended because I won’t just take what they say about anything other than themselves at face value. I don’t totally dismiss what I am told but I will fact check it before I form an opinion. I go deeply into fact checking when it is important and when it doesn’t have any importance in my life, then I will simply set it aside until one day it becomes important enough in my life to look into it.
Bottom line, when people give you negative feedback, don’t take it so personally. Even if it is a stab at your character or your looks or your skills or whatever. Recently, I know another businessman who also is a Google reviewer and he gives honest reviews. That means that sometimes he gives a negative review. This one business owner retaliated and wrote a fake negative review about a service that the scorned business never received from the Google Reviewer.
The Scorned Business owner has a lot of bad reviews about their product being overpriced and poor quality. The Google Reviewer didn’t lie and his review was honest and wasn’t mean. It was just a real review. The scorned business owner could look at the reviews and determine how to improve their product so that the negative reviews would change to positive ones but this owner decided to just be immature and unethical which is probably why he has so many bad reviews in the first place. But, as is common among humans, instead of the business using the negative reviews to help improve their business which would improve their sales which increases revenue and SUCCESS, they simply decided to retaliate with a fake review about a company who actually has nothing but legitimately good reviews from actual clients.
Mean is actually kindness when it is said or done out of love with your best interest at heart and mind. Negative feedback and things that are difficult to hear can be your best resource for personal growth and development.
Sometimes, with a problem, it really is you. Take time to look at yourself without rose-colored glasses. See your dark side, see your imperfections and your weaknesses. Look at them, understand them, so you can transform them into a strength.
Because until you can, you will remain less than who you are.
Great points, quite difficult to deal with people who can’t take constructive criticism, always feeling you are attacking them. Best advice. Thanks.