I hope you have a wonderful family full of supportive, loving and intelligent people. And, if you do, please know - I’m jealous! I’m jealous because my family is full humans - opinionated, flawed, and sometimes stupid people. And included among those stupid people are some bullies.
Mind you, they aren’t your run-of-the-mill schoolyard jerks who kick your shin and take your lunch money. These bullies are lovely-looking, usually very-nice people, who hand you a cocktail and then tell you how you don’t know enough, aren’t good enough, and basically suck. I have left many encounters with these bullies, dumbstruck and shaking my head, wondering how I ended up feeling so awful after such a nice party.
Part of my personal growth has included a good deal of work on standing up to people who would like to make me feel small - including the bullies in my family. My evolution has involved dissecting the encounters I have with them, translating the seemingly “helpful” comments on my life and explaining why I feel like shit afterward. At some point I decided to start standing up to these people both in my head and in real time.
At first it was horribly scary… my voice trembled, my knees were wobbly. I began to say things in response to the veiled insults such as, “I disagree,” or “Excuse me, but how is that relevant?” and other conversation halters.
I’ve gotten better at simply refusing to tell certain people about the details of my life, they aren’t safe enough to be trusted. I’ve based my interactions with them on how they ACTUALLY show up for me.
Case in point…
This morning, a distant cousin who has political views that are opposite of mine, shared an article on social media that made my blood boil. I have been fighting with said cousin, in my head, ever since.
I have crafted a thousand well-researched opinions. I have cut and pasted all the facts that I could to support my point. I have even thought about unfriending my cousin.
Ultimately, however, I choose not to engage.
The decision not to engage came from a conversation we had in KeyHolder, Robin Breckenridge’s PIVOT series - a course on repairing and restoring relationships. (Which, by the way, I highly recommend! Just as I highly recommend simply meeting Robin. She is fabulous in a thousand ways!) In our PIVOT session two weeks ago we talked about setting boundaries with the people in our lives based on the ways they ACTUALLY show up for us. This is essential - most of us have boundaries based on what we would LIKE to be true.
Once a boundary is set, it is then up to ME to act accordingly. It is my job to not engage, disclose, or set myself up to be hurt. The other person will do what they will do and it is none of my business. My behavior is the only thing I can control.
My cousin is wrong, and mean, and in an outer relationship boundary where I put jerks that I will not allow to invade my life. This person is not someone I want to invest in and the relationship is not one I care to invest in. If we didn’t share DNA, my cousin wouldn’t be on my radar, nor would I be on theirs.
So I chose to not engage - to type nothing in response. I choose to let my cousin be wrong, and mean, and not a person I invest in.
I control who gets my time. I control who gets my energy. I control who gets my very valuable and very limited fucks. And when I am standing in my power, fully content with my choices, I am my best self.
This, my friends, is badassery.
So, what do I do when I do care and I must confront my bullies? Well, that’s a subject for another blog post. Stay tuned!
Are you giving the bullies in your life more time, energy - or fucks - than they deserve? Inspire others in your hive (and yourself!) by leaving a comment below making a pledge to engage - or disengage - how it best suits you!
Dr. Corrine Rogers,