We Live; We Learn
Sometimes, we learn things about people that make us uncomfortable or disappointed.
Sometimes, we learn that someone harbours opinions of us that are based entirely upon stereotype and assumption.
Sometimes, these are people who, in their previous interactions with you, gave no indication that they secretly hold such spite in their hearts towards you.
Then it comes out. Often unexpectedly.
How, then, do we respond?
It depends, perhaps, on how important and integral to one’s day-to-day life this person is.
We can confront them in justified hurt and anger and meet spite with spite. This will, most likely, end the relationship for good but at least we will have the satisfaction of having made them pay for being dishonest to our faces.
We can, of course, ignore it – but adjust our interactions to accommodate, and eventually dispel, their assumptions by sheer weight of direct contrary evidence. This may take an inordinate amount of time and possibly prove fruitless if, (as is likely), the person’s opinions aren’t evidence-based in the first place.
We can, as is often suggested in conflict-resolution literature, let them know that this revelation hurt our feelings and ask where this spite came from. This, in the hope that we might explain how their assessment was wrong and, once they understand, reset the relationship – ideally, with the inclusion of an apology.
This method, probably, has the greatest chance of success – but presumes that the other person is open to reasonable and mature, adult dialogue.
Furthermore, if the original situation arose from a lack of reasoning and a dearth of the maturity needed to challenge one’s own assumptions, the chances of a meaningful resolution from this approach will be diminished.
If they are not significant to our day-to-day existence, the answer is simple. Let it, and them, go.
Their disapproval of you; their judgement, however ill-founded, is simply not important enough to bother correcting. Wish them clearer insight and a less spiteful spirit if you like, but simply breathe them out and move on. The energy you save by this method can be put towards more worthy endeavours.
So, where does that leave us?
As I’ve said before, while I remain aware of how little I know, I will not presume to be a teacher to anyone.
But, I believe this: While we are all, at sometime, subject to negative comments or opinions from others, it is always we who get to choose whether we accept it or leave the burden in the giver’s hands.
The very learned soul, Max Igan, once said, of appraising the worth of criticism, that it can be assessed under three criteria: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?
If it passes this test, learn from it and adjust;
If it fails, just let it roll on by.