Live Happier this Holiday: 40 days of wisdom and grace delivered to your inbox

How to Stop Running into Gunfire

Last week someone posted the quote above on Facebook and it made me smile.  We all have people in our lives who no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we explain, no matter how nice, clever, perceptive we are they just don’t get it.  You know the friend, parent or co-worker who just can’t be happy for you, who never has a kind word to say who is hyper-judgmental and even down right cruel.  They are MAJOR energy drains who leave us feeling exhausted, beaten down and criticized. And yet, we keep going back.  We keep sharing our heart and soul with them.  We keep HOPING this time maybe they will hear us and support us.

Here are some common ‘lies’ we tell ourselves, that keep us, as a client so eloquently said “running into the gunfire”

Lie: “I can fix it. If I am empathetic enough, supportive enough or understanding enough I can help them be less cruel.  I can help them feel less like a victim and more empowered.  I can do it.
Bottom line:  You can’t fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed.  We are all responsible for our own stuff.  So it doesn’t matter how lovely you are to someone, if they don’t want to be helped and meet your love with anger and cruelty every time it just isn’t worth it. Not to say you shouldn’t be compassionate with other people.  You can be compassionate and have strong boundaries.

Lie: “If only I explain it right they will get it.” Here the belief is that it isn’t that they just can’t hear us, it is that we aren’t explaining it correctly.  This lie can be especially damaging because it makes us believe there is something wrong with us.  It makes us think that at our core, we are the one’s who are doing something wrong and on some level we deserve the cruelty or the criticism.
Bottom line:  There is nothing wrong with you!!  You NEVER deserve to be criticized, demeaned or judged. PERIOD.  Let me say that again.  You NEVER deserve to be criticized, demeaned or judged. PERIOD. You deserve to be around people who love you, support you and when they don’t get it–ask for clarification in a loving way.

Lie: Why don’t they get it, maybe if we talk it out more I can understand them better.”  The heart of this lie is the need to understand, why they are acting that way.  Why are they being judgmental?  How can they be so cruel?  So we keep going back for more punishment in a quest to understand why because MAYBE once we understand why we can change them.
Bottom line: Don’t  get stuck in trying to understand.  It is wonderful to have curiosity around people and try to understand their behavior. But when that process, requires us to continue to run into gunfire just for the sake of curiosity…that is suicidal.  You can have curiosity from a distance.  Yes, they might have had a crappy childhood, or maybe they are in a dead-end marriage AND that doesn’t give them carte blanche to treat everyone like dirt.

Why lie do you relate to?  Are there other lies you tell yourself to keep engaging with people who drain you and belittle you?

Overall Bottom line:  You never have to justify, prove or defend your behavior to anyone.  You deserve to be surrounded by people who lift you up and add to your life.  It is ok to draw boundaries;  to say no;  to only share minimal details; to protect yourself from people who’s main job it has been to tear you down.  And eventually, if they prove that they can do it better, it is ok to let them back into your life.

2 Responses to How to Stop Running into Gunfire

  1. Oooh that last lie got me like a punch in the GUT!

    I definitely get caught up in trying to understand why the toxic person in my life treats me that way. The fact is, I probably will never understand the “why” any more than I do right now, and it won’t change the way that person treats me.

    In a way I think getting in caught up in “why” is a gateway drug for the other 2 lies: if I understand why, I can fix it. And if I can’t fix it, it’s because I’m doing something wrong.

    Which leads to the mother of the lies: “I deserve the treatment I’m getting.”

  2. You are so right!! That is the mother of all lies–makes me want to rewrite the post! Ha! Thanks for your comment because it is so true–the why is a gateway drug into the other 2- it is a vicious vicious cycle.