Let it go

I am a good and compassionate listener. I take people at their word. I take their words to heart. The result of that can be that there are times when their criticism brings me down. It takes a lot of soul searching after one of those events before I can analyze their words in an objective way. After letting them bring me down I then begin to analyze. What do I ask myself?

Is their criticism helpful and constructive? Do they even know me, my heart, my history, and my life to have earned the right to say what they said? Let’s say they said, for example, “you don’t care about education, and you don’t think teachers work hard”. Even a criticism that is that far off base initially reaches my heart. There are days when criticism from someone I think loves me absolutely breaks my heart. Why is that? I initially think they are accurate without even running the statement through a filter. Now take the education statement: that is nonsense, and anyone who knows me would realize that.

In the example I gave, let’s say I respond by protesting and give examples of how highly I value a teacher; not to mention that I am a tutor! Then the person, typically would look at me in horror and say “you are so defensive. Why are you upset? I am only trying to help you”….Yeah. Their have been countless examples of this using a lengthy list of topics (many more personal than the above example)through the years, done by more people than I can count. Why is that? Perhaps my heart is too open and loving.There are times when I am way too quick to form friendships, only to discover that they could give lessons to the Mean Girls. I have moved a number of times in my life, and so I need to form new friendships in new places. I love easily and readily. It takes awhile to realize some folks’ true natures. That is when the bullying begins. There have been countless times that I have chosen wisely, and have been rewarded with deep and abiding friendships, too. 

I go through my life assuming everyone has the strengths and virtues that I have and they have a whole lot more than that, and are even more virtuous than I am on every count. It takes me by surprise when  a person behaves in a demeaning way. It is like you were standing on solid ice, only to discover the ice that looks rock solid isn’t. When I lived in MN we knew when ice was ready to skate upon. How?  Well, it got this cool whitish look to it, as I recall. So to continue the analogy, it is as though I was on this gorgeous ice, skating around. All of a sudden, without any warning cracking sound, the ice collapses and I am drowning. As I grab the edge, my hands are full of white paint. Yep—the ice was painted to look white. Whoa!

So, those are the times that initially bring me down. I often leave the initial discussion of this type with the person with my tail between my legs. I feel mopey, maligned, rejected. The person probably never gives the discussion another thought. But there I am, mulling it over and over. Eventually I think of all kinds of witty come-backs. but it is too late, as the discussion is long past. Then I pray and soul search. I decide the person may have brought me down but will not keep me down. I get out my cleats, clips, harnesses, and rappelling ropes and climb back up to God. 

People who behave that way are not trying to help me. They may have their own little histories that have absolutely nothing to do with me. Yes, I can help them and be a good example for them. That doesn’t mean that I should seek their counsel or believe their criticism when I know it is false. I don’t write about this today because I am going through it. I do write about it because odds are that today someone is going through it. so I say if someone says something that broke your heart, reconsider what they say in the cold light of day. Just because they said it doesn’t make it true, constructive, helpful, or even worth remembering. When my son was little and being bullied I told him something that he never forgot. They were calling him names; they were telling him he was stupid and ugly. Yep, they were. Nope, he wasn’t. It broke his heart every time.

I told him that just because they said it didn’t make it true. Just because 20 people said it didn’t make it true. Just because the teacher said it didn’t make it true. God made him and knew him, and God is stronger than all of them. Then I said: “if they said you are a banana would you believe them? would you say I guess I am a banana? And if you decided that would you decide you shouldn’t go on a field trip to the zoo in case the monkeys got loose?” He laughed at that one because he could see how ridiculous it would be. I said “then you mustn’t believe their hurtful comments”. Now it really did not help him a huge amount…nor does it help me enough; but it does help. We still weep when people hurt us. but eventually we get to the banana point. We realize we must let it go. I am not a banana!

As far as comebacks go, I don’t always have them at the ready. But there are two that I at times can manage to insert into the discussion. The first is “Did you know you said that out loud”? If they apologize I accept it and say something like “sometimes my filter runs out of batteries, too; I understand” If instead they defend what they said, I just say “huh….well I choose to not participate in the discussion”. and then I just stop talking so as not to be manipulated into the battle.  The other comeback I have is easy for me to deliver calmly. I say, “you don’t know me well enough to have that discussion”. and then i change the subject. I have to report that sometimes in the heat of attack I actually remember these comebacks. On my best days as they rip me apart I pray for them rather than listen closely. It is essential to let it go. Oh so essential. Yes, we must pray for and try to understand why the person is bullying. But we also must be compassionate towards ourselves. There is emotional and spiritual freedom in letting it go. It is then you realize–that you are good, true, loving, lovable and worthy. Oh yes you are; you are SO not a banana. 🙂

About Kate Kresse

I love to write, I love to talk, I love to uplift people when I can. I am a woman in love with life. I am a wife, mom, tutor, writer, and I am a perennial optimist. (OK not every single minute but you get the point! :-)
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23 Responses to Let it go

  1. fgassette says:

    I really don’t know what to say. WOW! This post says it all. I know it will bring comfort and encouragement to all who read it, for many of us who have been there or are there now. Thank you so much for sharing.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  2. Kate Kresse says:

    Thanks so much. It was really in my heart to write about this. Someone must need it today is all I can think. Everyone needs a hug now and then, right ❤

  3. Terri O.A. says:

    Kate I wish I could sit and have a cup of coffee with you and tell you some things. For myself I learned that it is all that a bully is capable of…..putting down others. Always more about who they are than the person in target view. Sorry you felt any of that……and they paint the ice white….why?

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Terri–I wish we could sit and talk over coffee too. You are of course correct; it says so much more about the bully than the victim. The damage that I have seen bullies do is so very appalling. Frequently the bullies have a good-sized circle of friends; the get the whole group to marginalize, humiliate, and damage the victim. And the bullies are frequently well thought of by every one around. Those are the ones that stun me….they have acres of friends, are well thought of and not seen as bullies. That is what truly stuns me.

  4. Gilly Gee says:

    Kate this is an amazing post,you are such a wise and generous woman.

  5. dogear6 says:

    The problem I have with “feedback” and “constructive criticism” is the underlying theme of “this is the right for me to act, so you should act this way too”. And that just sucks. I got it repeatedly as a child; what’s disappointing is to still be getting it from the same family members and at work as well.

    That’s followed by the other one of “don’t be so sensitive”. Well, I AM sensitive. I DO feel things deeply and have to be careful because of that.

    The ones who pull this on me the most have the least invested in me if they cannot control me. Unconditional love is hard to come by. I have it from my husband, but am reluctant to share some of these things with him because it makes him go off, which does help me.

    That is part of why I’m such an avid diarist. I can write these things out to get them out of my system, figure out better responses, and enjoy my emotions without criticism.

    When my daughter was in college, she was mad at me for not going to see the family for the holidays. I told her that it was best for her Dad and I to limit our contact, but she was an adult and I would not be offended if she wanted to see them. She did a few times and decided that no, she needed to limit contact also.

    Work is a different problem. I can’t limit my contact, but I can limit my friendship and personal information and fly under the radar. It’s not how I want to do it, but this type of mentality is heavily prevalent in my field.

    Okay, so this is longer than I expected. Good post, good topic. I do like your response to the bullying. I’ll have to practice that!

    Nancy

    • Kate Kresse says:

      I agree Nancy; often those doing the bullying hold themselves out to be ‘the authority’ on whatever the point of attack is. You are right, it is disappointing, and at times even crushing to get it over and over again. I know what you mean. and yes—how can you NOT be sensitive…i feel things deeply, too. When that got to be a thing that anyone looks down upon is a mystery to me. As I say, they do not have the right to try to minimize, marginalize, and humiliate anyone. It is clear that that is their goal. Utter destruction is what they seek. There are times that they do not quit until they have made the victim cry. That is how it is easy to tell that it isn’t a difference of opinion.

      Yes indeed, it helps to get my feelings out—either in a journal or my blog. Through my days, weeks, and months these days, I pick and choose. I decided over a year ago that I needed to surround my life with life-affirming people. Those who care about me provide support and criticism both in a loving and heartwarming way. I walk away from the destructive ones. Thank you for your comments. As always, they are loving, uplifting, and kind. God bless===Kate

  6. I had to remind myself that this was Kate’s blog I was reading. Mean people suck! Pardon my use of my grandson’s vernacular.
    I just don’t do mean people after a second chance. Life is too short on earth.
    I also have a personal issue with trust. Experiencing betrayal by someone who was trusted explicity has taught me to be on guard for lies. I never have the proper come back when I confront.
    Arrrgggghhhh!!!

    ; ) Thankfully God knows my heart>

    • Kate Kresse says:

      By this age I am more on guard, too. After a few times of someone bullying me I limit their ability to repeat their behavior. Life is too short for messing with that. I think it bothers me even more when it happens to my son…that gets my mama bear really fired up.

  7. It’s taken me a long, long time to learn how to let go! I heard Wayne Dyer quote someone else, I think, saying, “What you think of me is none of my business.” I love that. If I’m being as honest with myself as I can be and someone wants to verbally hit me from behind, I do try to shake the dust off and move on…I have too many blessings in my life to obsess over others careless words. You have said it all…and beautifully! How encouraging! Debra

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Thanks Debra…bit by bit we learn, don’t we? I love the Wayne Dyer quote you wrote. The shaking the dust off is a struggle for me at times—especially if someone I love is being attacked. That piece is extra hard for me to let go of. God bless you—I am glad you were encouraged.—Kate

  8. pbus1 says:

    Great post, and great lesson for all! Thank you so much for sharing your insight and wisdom!

    Paulette

  9. Kate, i ran into a large amount of what you explained coming from your heart and mind, I have daughters and grandaughters, and i usually don’t give them advice unless its bringing them down. I tell them ” you choose to take ownership of disparaging words! Maybe some might be true, if they are not, let them go, if they are true, try to change. I have had people throughout my life say some things which i thought were wrong but after dwelling on them a while quite a few times they were right You can choose friends that are closeby, that you have known all your life, that you met in many places. The relationships now from the soicial network, comes from only words. You choose to share yours and to meet many people that way, we all do, we all have something to share,offering a new voice, a different point of view, something something to take notice of. You are on a world stage now! But everybody has their own opinion and it might not fit into your space There will be many that won’t like you or who will be careless with their words…do not own what they present. You give an opinion and so do they, if there is no common ground move on. But some people will never like what you do. Its nothing that you can do about it. Most times it does not have to do with you, maybe a bad day, maybe there are uncomfortabl changes in their lives. Just sharing your love, continue being yourself, always let your voice flow outward, there are a lot of ears and hearts that need it. I read your blog a lot and really admire what you do. There is a great virtue in being honest in what you say! I love the way you do it, as a fellow writer, a fellow human…you will always be loved and needed, but most of all enjoyed by many! I want to share something with you, A poem called Changes just to bring you back to being centered.

    “Changes”

    With the coming of the setting sun
    When it seems that my day is done
    There is always a continuation of time
    Where I weigh my day’s final outcome

    It’s a time to reflect on the day’s events
    On all the things that made it complete
    For only in reviewing my many steps
    I might find in sleep a heavenly peace

    I view my mind’s kaleidoscope of images
    Both good and bad and also in between
    For only then might I grow wiser inside
    So tomorrow a much better life I may achieve

    And after fully critiquing this day’s events
    I kneel down by my bed and fervently pray
    That God above might help me to correct
    My many mistakes that were made today.

    Copyright 2011,
    From ‘The Place Where My Heart Dwells,’

    I take it all to God at the end of the day, “a child going to his Father” and it always gets better the next day! Love You Much My Friend!

    5

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Dear Wendell—you are so kind. And absolutely bullies can only bring you down if you let them. I love the poem you wrote, by the way. God knows my heart. The post today was a telling from some things in the past —some things quite awhile ago, and others a bit more recently. No one bullied me or was unkind to me here on my blog. That has never ever happened. Not even once. But I was thinking about times I was bullied, and times my son was bullied. And I realized that there was a strong chance that someone is getting bullied. I wanted to share my words of wisdom. Your wise words are profound. Absolutely there will be many who won’t like me and with whom I do not have a commonality. That is ok—I cannot devote time to every person on the planet. Even Jesus had his enemies, right? But some people are distraught over people being unfair and hurtful with them. That I find troubling… the cruelty and unkindness extended towards people Thank you for your heartfelt response.

  10. mlissabeth says:

    How do you know my heart so well? When i read your words, it sorta feels like you are speaking for me, as well as to me. I feel a real connection here. I hope you don’t mind me saying that. Thanks for this wonderful post!

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Perhaps our hearts have been entwined for quite awhile … there are certain experiences and soul-deepening moments that kindred spirits share.I am glad that we do. I am glad that blogging brings kindred a=spirits together.

  11. Gracie Sam says:

    This is a very inspiring post Kate. Thank you for sharing with us, you are a very wise and sweet woman. I know how you felt as I read this as I have been through it all myself whilst I was growing up. All those “bullying” tactics I have received coz I was too quiet, shy and easy to please. Looking back all those years, I remember how soft, too understanding and too caring I was. But shouldn’t we all supposed to be caring and loving? Unfortunately, there are just some people who would like to take advantage of someone’s good nature. But those experiences made me stronger, more mature and closer to God. I like your phrase “we must also be compassionate to ourselves”. By the way, I have also read a very good quote from a book and it goes like this: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.

    Have a lovely day, Kate 🙂

    • Kate Kresse says:

      I am sorry you were bullied, Gracie. Yes we are supposed to be caring and loving, and we continue to be so. when people treat your harshly it is always a faith building experience, isn’t it? Gold is tempered by fire…and we become precious jewels in His crown. I love that quote by the way====I think Eleanor Roosevelt said it, right?

  12. How do all you people get so good!?
    I WISH the criticisms aimed at me were untrue, but usually they are true. So I just say, “Yes, I am what you said, but Jesus loves me anyway.” They usually run from that because they smell a sermon coming and, hoo-boy, they weren’t ready for any kind of sermonizing, not from a sinner like me! Ha! 😀
    I’m not one to need bunches of friends, though. I tend to mistrust most people and wait for them to prove their trustworthiness before I trust them. Sometimes I am really glad I did! It’s not that I am unfriendly, but just that my goal is to give, which precludes much getting. I posted about it, which you can find by searching “friendship” at my site. 😉

  13. Kate Kresse says:

    I love your response! Your point, as ever is wise, loving, accurate. My actual mistake sometimes is to assume they are trustworthy before they prove themselves to be so. As a matter of fact, now that I reflect upon that—probably 80% or more of the bullying falls into that category. So waiting til they prove themselves makes sense. I have a hard time not feeling guilty about doing that sometimes as we are called to love…The other 80% of bullying has come from other situations…disfunctional nonresidential family type stuff

  14. Fabulous! Fabulous! Fabulous!

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