taking it personally

It was five minutes after the time we were supposed to meet, and I was worried because I was still sitting alone in the coffee shop. Had I gotten the date, time, or place wrong for our meetup? A frantic scroll through sent messages confirmed I was in the right place, right day, and right time.

Ten minutes ticked by. Still sitting alone. Wishing I wasn’t such a “good girl” about always being on time,

Might she have been in an accident? Taken ill? Dealing with a work emergency? Concerned, I called her.

She apologized, saying she’d forgotten about our get-together. Said she’d gotten busy on another project and that our appointment had totally slipped her mind. She didn’t offer to reschedule. The call ended pleasantly.

She’d forgotten about our meeting. That stung. It had been her idea to meet—she said she wanted to get to know me.

Feeling a little hurt, I finished my latte and watched others as they huddled over their coffees at the small tables, engaged in conversation with people who remembered and showed up, whispered the little voice in my head. My personal pity party was under way.

My little voice pointed out that I obviously didn’t matter enough to be remembered. *ugh* A low, slow simmer of anger bubbled up and mixed with my hurt. Together, those feelings lingered throughout the rest of the day.

Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. ~Lao Tzu

Come the next morning, I wasn’t hurt or angry anymore.

Instead, I was fixated on wondering what her forgetting said about me. Did she forget because she discovered I wasn’t important? Did she forget because she’d regretted her spontaneity in suggesting that we get together? Did she not mention rescheduling because she’d decided I wasn’t interesting enough to meet with? Where had I fallen short?

These ridiculous, self-defeating thoughts continued to lurk in my head over the next several days.

Just give it a rest, will you? Implored my little voice (funny how it changes sides, isn’t it?). You’re giving this non-issue too much air time. She was busy. This isn’t about you. My little voice bounces between critic and coach. Fortunately, the coach was back.

The coach voice was right. The woman said had she’d gotten busy and forgot. Accept it, believe it, and move on, urged the coach. Quit making something personal that isn’t personal at all.

I was giving entirely too much power to a stranger. I had no control over the woman forgetting. I did, however, have complete control over how I responded to her forgetting.

I called her and suggested we reschedule. She readily agreed.

When we met, she thanked me for reaching out. She said she couldn’t bring herself to call me because she was embarrassed and ashamed for having behaved badly. She said she thought she was a better person than that but, obviously, she wasn’t.

Isn’t it fascinating how both of us had turned the focus back onto our self-perceived failings and short-comings and made something personal that wasn’t?

Always on the lookout for teachable moments, I found seven of them in this situation:

  • Don’t jump to conclusions. Get the facts, test assumptions, and clarify, clarify, clarify before deciding you have the answer, know the reason, etc.
  • Not everything is about you, so don’t unnecessarily give your power away.
  • Consider the situation from the perspective of the other person, seek first to understand.
  • Don’t conflate the behavior with the person. There are times when all good people behave badly.
  • Self-worth comes from the inside out, not the outside in. Don’t be so quick to sell yourself short.
  • Talk it out.
  • Forgive, let go, move on.

We’re all human. That means we construct our view of reality through our personal filters, experiences, values, and beliefs. That, in turn, means we need to be eternally vigilant to not make everything about us. Because most of the time, it isn’t.

When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” -Miguel Ruiz

When we get out of our own way, that’s when success, true connection, and growth happens. Thank you, little coach voice.

Image credit before quote: Pixabay

 

 

 

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