Thursday, 5 July 2018

Thought Picnic: Exercising the art of the unflappable

When they project
One morning last week, I woke up to find a message on one of my social media profiles from someone who took exception to appearances on my profile.
What people feel about the way I look or choose to present myself is left to them, I cannot deny them the need to be silent, to compliment or to castigate.
On the point of silence, I cannot read minds, so it does not bother me. When I am complimented, I hope I have the grace, gratitude and courtesy to acknowledge it without becoming disagreeable. Then also, I try not to be suspicious as to consider every compliment as a means for some to inveigle their way into my affections and confidences. Who knows motives and maybe there is no motive at all apart from appreciation.
When they abuse
However, when a complete stranger is overwrought to the point that they have to castigate me rather than hold their peace, you have to wonder what they are really up to. In most cases, I have ignored them and where the facility is available, I block them.
The one last week went a bit further than was necessary that I was compelled to react. When people come at you out of the blue, I default to seeing it as a projection of themselves rather than a reflection of myself.
I responded, “Is that a cheap shot at me to make you feel good about yourself? I don’t care for what you think. Go and find someone else to project your negativity on.”
He responded with derision and then addressing me as a bozo, he ordered me not to respond again. I was having none of it. I responded, “I don’t know what side of the bed you got off on, but just because you are frustrated and probably unloved, should not have to make me a target of your ire. Then, I was a sleeping dog that you have kicked, you can’t now control the narrative.”
When they repent
I expected him to go away. He didn’t, in fact, I was surprised at his response. “I have just read over what I posted to you,” he said, “I’m sorry, it was nasty and rude, I apologise.”
To which, I responded. “I accept your apology. Have a nice day.” Then he went on about how sorry and contrite he was, he thought I was a nice guy and he hoped I would not close him down after what happened.
To that, I had no further responses, for whilst I have made acquaintances and friends after some conflict, I do not necessarily see that as the best avenue for cultivating friendships. Conflict, argument and disagreement whilst respecting each other courteously and nicely, I can abide. When you go down the line of abuse, you have burnt your bridges before you have had the opportunity to cross them.
When you don’t care anymore
More poignantly, the moral tale behind all this is to know when people are projecting their negativity and by that, refuse to allow that to define you, confuse you, aggrieve you and rile you to the point that they can take advantage of your composure and sense of wellbeing.
As I have written before, when I have faced racial abuse, I have mostly seen it as an opportunity to educate and not take offence. I have found that the same works for when you are abused or something negative is said about you.
Then, when a respected mentor inadvertently suggested I was failing to show an example, I simply said, that was just part of my failings. He meant the opposite, but when you have reached the point where you are not driven by the need to please and you are comfortable in your own skin, you will be unflappable in the face of anything they throw your way.


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