We, myself included, can easily forget that things are not necessarily a direct reflection on us. Sometimes people respond in a way that gives us reason to pause or upset us. Think back to an experience where a friend, colleague, or even a complete stranger said or did something that offended you. Our initial thought is to question ourselves. This is a natural response because if it’s something we’ve done to upset someone we can correct our behavior or explain ourselves. If it’s not about us then it’s not really in our control to fix.
Think about the following scenarios:
Someone isn’t as good of a friend to you as you hoped they would be when a close family member is diagnosed with a serious health condition. Maybe this person is not a bad friend but they have never experienced losing someone close to them and the thought of being in your shoes is too much to handle. Instead of being a comfort and a friend to lean on they shy away when you need them most.
A family member has a negative reaction when you share good news with them about your promotion at work. Maybe they feel stuck at their job so they point out all the negatives rather than celebrate with you.
A colleague responds harshly to a seemingly innocent question you asked them. Maybe that person was overwhelmed in the moment and could not handle any additional pressure.
One of your closest friends is not responding to your text messages. It may seem like it only takes two minutes to respond to someone but maybe that friend is extremely busy and he or she would rather wait until things calm down to give you the proper time to talk.
I use these examples as a way to help you think about what could be going on for the other person. At the same time, I think it’s important to remember that sometimes it will be about us and something we have done wrong. A friend may be annoyed or mad at you and not know how to tell you. Instead they act out. It’s not always easy to confront a problem. I encourage you to gently ask that person what’s going on. Let them know you care about them and you’re not sure if you did anything to upset them but you wanted to check in because something felt a little off. Remind that person that you want the type of relationship where you can both be honest with one another about how you feel. Hopefully, they’ll open up to you about what the problem is between the two of you or what has been going on with them personally. Even if they’re not ready to talk to you they know you care and are there to listen. Respect that.
People, especially those close to us, are not usually trying to be mean or hurt us. Try to think about what’s going on for the other person and also remember you have the right to express how you’re feeling and what’s going on for you.