"What about me?"
Guess What? It’s Not About You
Continuing on a communication theme for the moment, let’s talk about something that blocks communication, regardless of the intent of the communicator. This is something I have engaged in and seen quite a lot of, recently in the children and teens in my life. This one thing is responsible for a lot of self-inflicted pain and bitterness.
What Is It?
We could call it covetousness or pride. Either of those words works. But this is how it works. Mom tells daughter A, “Your hair looks wonderful today!” Beautiful compliment, right? Yes and nothing is wrong with that. Mom and daughter A have no problem and go on about their business. The problem starts in the heart of daughter B. She hears the compliment, and her first thought is, “What about me?”
Daughter A heard, “Your hair looks nice.” Daughter B heard, “Why doesn’t your hair look as nice as daughter A?” or “My mother must think my hair does not look wonderful.” She has turned something that wasn’t about her at all into something that was all about her.
Similar scenarios play out all the time. We tend to focus more on ourselves than others anyway, but when we make assumptions about communication that really has nothing to do with us, we plant a seed of bitterness and envy in our hearts. If we continue to do this, it will grow until our bitterness colors our entire life. We’ve all known people who just feel sorry for themselves all the time. This happens because of what they tell themselves about the events in their lives. This particular communication blocker tends to color everything in the heart and mind of the one who does it.
Does He Love Me?
On a personal note, I used to do this a lot. I think it’s part of that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;” (Proverbs 22:15) and starts early. [Part of a parent’s job is to confront the lies children believe with the truth]. One pain I brought on myself for many years involved my Grandfather. For his entire life, I thought he favored my sister. Maybe he did, but the reason I thought so was a lie straight from hell and common to mankind.
I was one of those ‘hide in the corner,’ bashful kids. My sister was not. She was engaging and knew how to get away with murder by being ‘cute’ in her orneriness. That set the stage. In later years, every time I visited my Grandfather, the topic of conversation was the sister. It hurt. What I heard was “Linda, Linda, Linda.” I gave myself unnecessary pain for so long because of this.
Then, toward the end of my Grandfather’s life, I realized something: It wasn’t about me! Guess what? I was the one who visited; my sister was not. So of course you’re going to talk about the one you don’t see, it’s only natural. I’m there; he doesn’t need to talk about me! This was the beginning of God shining the light of truth into the darkness of the lies I believed. Once you begin to see how you’ve done this, you will be amazed at how often you do it.
Over-aware Of Me?
A while back, I overheard some teens talking. One was complaining that her brother ‘gets everything.’ Sadly, I see the hurt in her eyes and how it’s affecting her. What she is not seeing is that she is several years younger than the brother (about 4). If you’re going to compare, you have to compare apples to apples. A 16 year old and a 12 year old are not comparable. The older one gets to do things first. If the 12 year old becomes 16 and realizes she’s not getting the same things as her brother did, then she might have something to worry about.
It’s Not About You!
I see this all the time and have to watch it closely in my own life.
The lie: It’s all about me.
The truth: Most of the time IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!
What to do?
Our perceptions color everything. Changing our thoughts involves introspection and awareness. When you catch yourself assuming or making a statement about you that’s not about you at all, STOP! Sometimes this writer even says STOP! out loud. The thought train is heading in one direction, and you must stop it and turn it around to change things. Give it a try; you’ll be surprised how much happier you are when you don’t get sucked into this communication blocker.