Dear Can’t We All Just Get Along,
First and foremost, let’s just say that the world would be a much different place if we could all just agree to disagree. To accept that someone’s differing viewpoints are not a direct assault on our own values. To understand that it’s not only possible – but essential – to learn how to stand up for ourselves without putting someone else down.
Yet, since there seems to be a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to accepting this notion, we must, as your letter suggests, develop strategies for surviving other people’s toxic vibes. And that’s actually the first piece of a two-pronged approach to not letting their “stuff” become yours:
Whole-heartedly grasping and believing that it’s not you, it’s them.
I know your rational brain knows this, Can’t We All Just Get Along, but it should be considered the first line of defense to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. When someone snaps at you or speaks in a way that is blatantly unkind, take a minute (and nothing more) to wonder what might be going on in their life.
And I say this, yes, to trigger a sense of sympathy, but more so because as soon as you let their negative words/actions/behaviors penetrate your self worth, they’ve won.
So once you’ve acknowledged that they clearly have a reason, albeit unknown to you, to be filled with such angst, the next proactive step I encourage you to take is to manifest that negative into a positive.
In other words, pour it full.
Consider yourself signed up for a new Olympic sport that makes a competition out of negativity. Be its biggest opponent, fighting it head on with equally unnecessary positivity.
Make it your job to convert every grumble, every nasty text, every passive-aggressive remark into some brightness for someone other. Compliment the person who has done a good job, buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you, hold a door.
Keep a running tally if you have to, so that at the end of the day you can say with certainty that you won and outmatched the negativity around you.
Not only will those people and their “stuff” start to have less and less power over you…
…but just imagine the ripple effect your random acts of kindness will create when others are inspired to do the same.