In Part 1 of this series we looked at the common phenomena where we misinterpret other people's opinions, criticisms, and judgments as a clue or definition of who we are and our value/worth. The point was: it's not about you. In fact, other people are telling us who THEY are and NOT defining OUR value or worth!
Strategies to Avoid Personalizing Comments, Judgments, and Opinions of Others
This month I'd like to address some strategies to help women extricate themselves from bullying, condescending, domineering relationships, and negative interpersonal dynamics.
After all, if the "other" person wasn't so compelling we wouldn't personalize their comments, judgments, and opinions of us. This is the dynamic--all of us most likely have let another/others define us at some point or permitted criticisms to hurt our feelings. Worse yet, as a result, we have been hindered in a setting or position we hold.
1. "Teflon" it - There is a strategy in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that simply directs us not to let comments go in. It's based on the well-known Teflon coating on frying pans. Teflon is a "nonstick" surface and this CBT strategy is basically encouraging us to be like that "nonstick" surface and let the negative comments slide right off of us. (CBT is a form of thought or cognition therapy: change your thoughts and you'll change the direction of your life.).
This strategy allows us to just let things go, to be strong against stray comments that may or may not be intended to insult or hurt our feelings. Just Teflon it! It’s like saying, “I'm not letting that comment go into my heart or my head!”
2. Repeat a Mantra - Sometimes we need a slogan or a mantra to say over and over to ourselves, something like, “I'm not picking that up. I'm not letting that go in. They're just telling me who they are; they're absolutely not telling me who I am.” Al-Anon has a saying, "When someone extends you the rope (to argue or fight something out) you don't have to pick it up." I use that one myself, "I'm not picking that up right now. Lord, bless them, I'm moving on!"
3. Guard Your Heart - ABOVE ALL guard your heart for from it flows all the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
This verse says I must guard my own heart. Very important indeed! I know I need lots of the Holy Spirit's empowering Grace to do that. So I might pray something like this:
“Lord, please help me guard my heart! I know it's the most important thing about me and I literally cannot afford to have my heart slimed by resentment, negativity, and thoughts of revenge. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45b). I don't want my mouth spewing evil as a result of becoming defensive and resentful over another's bad manners or behavior. Teach me to walk in the opposite spirit of my enemies and sow love, grace, and forgiveness.”
There is one very important caveat in all of this: Remember that much of what hurts our feelings or insults us is largely unintentional. As women we know when we're being sensitive. If we don't know, we can consult with a trusted friend. For the most part people are not against us and comments that are off-putting should not be taken seriously or personally.
After all it does just as much harm to take offense as to give it. <<Click to Tweet
Proverbs 12:16 says that it's a fool who takes offense and shows it.
Having said that, what I've addressed here is when someone IS bullying, being grandiose, or narcissistic. Many of the caustic or hostile comments that hurt us are a strategy of the enemy of our soul to derail us. PLEASE HEAR THIS: Powerful people who are negative can sense when their former victim is now detached. They won't like it, but they do respect it. Be aware of what happens when you train yourself to be unavailable for their craziness.
- Don't let comments get into your heart and mind and ruin your day, rather "Teflon it."
- Be responsible NOT to "pick up" argumentative/snarky comments. (Picking up those comments makes me a willing victim of someone else's insults or strategy.)
- Above all, guard your hearts because everything in life flows from it!
The three strategies can be summarized by saying and praying, "By the Empowering Supernatural Grace of God, I am just not going there!" Always remember to bless your enemies because in that you fulfill your mission here on Earth!
Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website.
EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith.Click here to contact us.