Have you ever noticed how most people remember the painful comments more vividly than the ones? Certainly, I'm guilty.
Let me tell you a story... My mother, for as long as I can remember, has told me, and anyone else who would listen, that she had broad shoulders.
As a little girl I didn't think twice about the comment. Shoulders didn't matter to me. My mother was saying things she often repeated. A few years older, when I began shopping for clothes, my mother would observe,in a self derogatory fashion, that her choice in tops was limited because she had broad shoulders.
I barely registered the comment because I had heard it before. It was part of her narrative. You know what it mean.
After living in another part of the country for a few years I returned home with fresh ears. I actually heard my mother's words. Did that ever happen to you?
I wondered, "Why would she think she has broad shoulders?" It seemed like a radom part of her body to comment on. In addition, it was patently obvious that my mother did not have broad shoulders. In fact, I thought she was on the small side and possibly shrinking. (No offense, Mom!)
Of, course my mother didn't believe me. We had to get out the measuring tape and look up average shoulder width for women in her age range. The numbers confirmed it. Her shoulders were average.
In the process, I asked her how this idea got into her head. Apparently, 40-something years ago a sales clerk made that observation and (this is the important part) my mother believed the clerk.
This is a very common condition. I think we are all carrying around these composite self-images. What we think other think of ourselves is cobbled together from random (and often negative) comments and reactions. I know I do. Crazy, right?
Ready? Here is the kicker: What people say reflects what is going on in their own mind, not what they actually see in us.
In The Four Agreements written by Don Miguel Ruiz says, "...don't take anything personally".
Easy to say. Sigh - I know!
Listen, it makes sense. Ruiz explains with this example, "...if I see you on the street and I say, "hey, you are so stupid,"...it's not about you, it's about me. If you take it personally, then perhaps maybe you believe you are stupid. Maybe you think to yourself, "How does he know? Is he clairvoyant, or can everyone see how stupid I am?"
You take it personally because you agree with whatever is said....Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.".
Okay. Let's implement Ruiz's concept. 40-odd years ago, a sales clerk made a shoulder comment to my mother. That comment had nothing to do with my mother. It pertained only to the world the sales clerk lived in. Long term, the shoulder comment mattered because my mother agreed with it, and thus, let the comment in.
The rock star Eleanor Roosevelt said it perfectly, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
In the video above Marisa Peer's explains her 5 easy steps to deal with rejection. You never have to think about what-I-should-have-said ever again. Here is your go-to comeback list:
1. Say, "Thank you for sharing." Do not agree. Do not let it in.
2. If they continue: Would you say that agin?"
My suggestion: Turn in the opposite direction and start walking. Although, you might be in a car or ferris wheel. If that's the case...
3. "Are you trying to make me feel bad about myself?"
4. "You can think what you want but I am not going to let that in."
5. "Critical people have the most criticism for themselves."
Rewatch the video if you need to. You can do it! You are enough!