A friend of mine was just verbally threatened by someone he had attempted to do business with. The deal went badly, not some Hollywood version of a deal-gone-wrong, but certainly not the way either of them wanted. He was blamed and then threatened. It was unwarranted and because of the way this gentleman deports himself, he didn’t fire a volley of threats and epithets back. Instead, he withdrew, somewhat shakily because to him, this was an assault.
He didn’t deserve what was slung at him. Misplaced anger made him the target. Most “outsiders” had the perspective that the whole deal wasn’t right, not that either side was bad or wrong.
And here we are. In a world where assault, mentally, verbally, and even physically has somehow become almost okay. What is okay and what isn’t?
We’ve lost the edge of discernment and it’s time to get it back!
Here, in this week’s Wednesdays With Wayne, you’re being asked a couple of big questions. Let’s start with how it felt to read the first paragraph. Were you a little angry or upset? Did anything happen inside of you? Just wondering… really.
What advice would you offer to the kind man who was wrongfully attacked?
- Fight back?
- Stay away and out of the way?
- Just get over it?
After holding a space of empathy, he just needed to feel what he felt, my advice was to ask about the slurs that were flung his way. I wanted to bring him to a dispassionate place, a more rational space where he’d have perspective above the fray.
Yes, I offered solace first. I’m a guy who is full of empathy. You know that about me. And then, I had to do some work.
And here it is. As you read this, I wonder, does it make a difference if you’re a man or a woman? Does it make a difference if a person of the opposite gender is the one throwing slurs your way? This is deep stuff for my usual Wednesdays With Wayne, and I’m asking you because I believe that by raising your consciousness to have answers now, you’ll have them when you need them. (Consider this mental martial arts training.)
If you were called names like “purple, spotted leprechaun!” would you feel angry? Would you want to fight back? If I yelled at you that “you’re a fuzzy pot of chili,” would you want to attack me or seek some revenge in some way?
Probably not; and that begs the question of why not?
The answer is that you know deep down, you’re not a leprechaun that’s purple or spotted or any kind, really. (And I don’t mean anything derogatory about leprechauns.) And, for some reason, being called that is laughable rather than infuriating. And being called a fuzzy pot of chili is such a non-threat that it makes you squint, wondering what was meant by that.
And then there’s being called a thief, a coward, a b**ch, a mo- f****r, and lots of other juicy words that don’t belong being yelled or written.
Those words carry power because we let them.
So pick one of those words. Hold onto it for a second.
Are you that? Well, are you?
If you are, own it. If you’re not, then isn’t being called something like that the same as being called a fuzzy pot of chili?
What causes the reaction to fight is that we feel an assault of our integrity.
So we want to lob something back or defend the defamation.
And that’s a lot of energy.
And then we carry the anger about the assault with us.
We carry that for a very long time. And that’s a lot more energy.
Especially when you think about the fact that the person that originally lobbed the flaming bag of poo your way is probably long over it.
Oh, really quickly, you need to know that I’m not advocating letting abuse go.
No, abuse in any form is simply NOT okay. Over the course of many decades, I’ve seen plenty of verbal, mental, and physical abuse. In each case, the survivor had different avenues to take.
My work here is to bring to another tool into your repertoire. And believe it or not, that tool is apathy. (I have another one coming, so hang on.)
Is it weird that a Certified High-Performance Coach™ and someone with a PhD in psychology and black belt in the martial arts draws on apathy as a weapon of choice?
Maybe – Remember that the energy that goes into fighting a battle that isn’t really a battle is extensive and expensive.
If you don’t pick up the rope, there’s no tug-of-war.
So someone calls you a name.
- Are you?
- Do you need to respond?
Let’s say you want to respond. What are your choices?
Yep, sometimes compassion goes a long way.
Not all the time and not necessarily with the person who is lobbing the muck.
The thing is, they’re lobbing it because they are in pain.
Healthy humans don’t set out to harm each other.
And this is where a greater perspective is needed.
When you can get yourself to a place of compassion and even love, then you can gently cast aside the rope for the non-existent tug-of-war.
Move from “this isn’t mine” (apathy), to “that person must be in a world of hurt to act that way” (compassion).
From there, you model the way as a leader.
Yes, I’ve been called names.
Yes, my work has been defamed.
Yes, my integrity has been threatened. And when that all happened, I remembered the people that still believe in me and I let go of the one that simply didn’t. Yes, it hurt. And then, it healed.
And my friend will too.
And you will too.
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Join me in Chicago, Sept 14th and 15th.
Space is limited, sign up NOW!
Until next time, Keep Making Your Magic™!
~ Dr P ~