You haven’t really lived until you’ve heard the claim “It’s not you—it’s me.” Usually it’s in the context of a breakup, and it hurts as much as if someone had said, “You’re a jerk, and I hate you.”
Still, sometimes it’s important to recognize that it’s not you; it really is them. Take a kid having a meltdown. A parent’s first reaction might be “Oh, no! What did I do to hurt my child so badly that they have to writhe on the ground and scream at the top of their lungs?” I can almost guarantee that it’s not you—it’s them, and they are either (a) tired, (b) hungry, or (c) both.
Or take a more contemporary example: an online attack. Someone insults, bullies, or rails at you on Facebook. I got this tip from a talk I heard Bill Clinton give: Asked how he handled being constantly attacked, he responded that such vitriol usually has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the critics and what’s going on in their lives. They are either (a) tired, (b) hungry, or (c) both—or, I might add, (d) love- or sex-deprived.
Not taking it personally helps enable us to approach others with a little more love and less fuel for their anger. This is the hardest kind of love. It’s turn-the-other-cheek love. Give them that and a cracker and cup of soup or a safe place to lay their head, and then, if they still act like a toddler throwing a tantrum, here’s something else I learned, this time in therapy: It’s not your job to fix everything. And it’s not your job to take all the blame. But it is your job to be as loving and accepting as you can be.
That, a snack, and a nap never hurts.
Previously published in Rodale’s Organic Life. For great organic gardening, cooking, and living tips, pick up the magazine today!