Sunday, January 9, 2011
As much as I prefer to avoid negativity there are times in life when it is not possible. I think this is especially true during childhood. When I was in sixth grade there were two kids in my class who used to tease me mercilessly. They fed off of each other and would whisper cruel, derogatory things to me loudly enough for me to hear but quietly enough to avoid detection by the teacher. I'm not sure why I never told the teacher. Probably because "tattling" was not a socially sanctioned option among my sixth grade peers. Switching to another class was not an option either. I never responded to their comments, thinking that if I ignored them they would stop. They didn't. There were days when I'd go home, go to my room, shut the door, and cry about some of the things they'd said. I remained sensitive about some of their specific criticisms for years afterward. If I could have found a way to avoid these kids I would have done it without question. Unfortunately, I couldn't. I had no choice (at least as I saw it at the time) but to endure their teasing.
Really, these kids were just a couple of bullies. While relatively common during childhood and adolescence, this kind of bullying seems to occur less frequently in the adult world. Oh sure, there are negative people out there just waiting to put someone down. In the adult world, however, we have a little more control over how much contact we have with this kind of people. (This is not always the case, of course. Sometimes we have no choice but do endure the obnoxious coworker in the cubicle next to ours. We could, however, inquire about relocating to another cubicle).
It seems obvious. If you want to live a happy, peaceful life then the best thing to do is to distance yourself from these "grown up" bullies.
An unpleasant experience I had last weekend made me start thinking about this subject. My husband was previously married and he and his ex-wife have a child together. We went to pick up his daughter for the weekend; this was the first time I'd met his ex-wife. (We've only been married just under two months). She saw me in the car when she pulled up. She immediately jumped out of her car and started yelling. She apparently did not like the fact that I was there. I tried introducing myself and being cordial but with no success. Instead, she responded by hurling insults at me. She derided my appearance and told me that my husband only married me for money (not that she knows anything about our financial situation - the comment was just meant to be hateful).
I was really taken aback. I cannot remember the last time I've seen someone act like that but I'm sure it was sometime before I graduated high school. I wasn't even really angry at the time. More than anything I was confused. I saw no point in arguing with her so how was I supposed to respond? WAS I supposed to respond? I kept thinking to myself, "People just don't act like this..."
Do they? Later I started thinking that maybe I am naive. Maybe people really do act this way and I've just managed to shelter myself from it. I ended up handling the situation ok but I was still rather unsettled. It was almost like being in the sixth grade again.
Are there more negative people out there than I thought there were? What do you think? Are you able to keep your interactions with negative people to a minimum? Or do you find yourself forced to deal with negative people on a regular basis?