Offensive Comments, Hurt Feelings, and Lots of Thoughts
We live in a world full of humans. Humans that say things, do things, think things that are contrary to what we would ever say/do/think. But this diversity makes for a colorful world and lots of interesting experiences. Occasionally though, it doesn’t seem so interesting. Sometimes it just hurts. Sometimes it seems like people make offensive comments on purpose. People have hurt feelings and then we ruminate. We think about what happened again, and again, and again, and again, and AGAIN. I’m tired just thinking about that – You know what I’m talking about though, don’t you? I know you’ve been there. We all have.
The Mix Up
So today I want to help you out and give you some power back when those humans start being VERY human again. I want to teach you about something I call, “The Mix-up”. This Mix-Up creates a lot of problems for us and we’re left feeling confused, frustrated, and disempowered when we continue to operate from this place. But when I finally learned and figured out that all I was doing was mixing things up my world changed, my client’s world’s change, and your’s can too.
Many years ago I had a calling as the ward choir director. I LOVED this calling. I felt like I magnified it to the best of my ability. I spent so much time thinking, preparing, leading, and carrying out this calling. Of course I knew the day would come when I’d have to part ways with it, that’s the deal with most callings, right? But each week I’d count my many blessings that I was able to work in this capacity for so long with so many amazing people that were so easy to love and be around. For almost a decade I served in this position and truly loved it.
Then we had a change in the leadership and a new bishopric was called. A couple of months after this change I remember being at our ward Halloween activity and my bishop hinting at a new calling for me. He just said something vague like, “We might have something else in store for you.”
So it shouldn’t have been such a surprise when a couple weeks later I was asked by a counselor to chat. We sat down and he called me to another calling and at first it didn’t quite sink in that I’d have to be released from my current calling. It wasn’t too abnormal to hold multiple callings so I just assumed that I could do both and then I can’t remember what he said but it finally hit me that, “Oh…I can’t keep this calling, you’re going to release me from this one.”
Easy to Replace
I was still processing and putting pieces together so the look on my face must have been disbelief or something because he said, “I know, I know…I told the bishop, who are we going to get to fill it? and the bishop said, ‘don’t worry, she’ll be easy to replace”.
Did you just gasp? Yeah…not fun.
I don’t think he realized how that came out but let me tell you I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I had just gotten the wind knocked out of me. Dagger to my heart.
After that I don’t think I heard anything else. She’ll be easy to replace. She’ll be easy to replace.
So Hurt. So Offended
I really felt like something major in my world had just collapsed. I left the building holding my breath because I knew that when I finally did breathe a LOT of tears were going to come with it…and they did…for like, two weeks straight they did.
I felt helpless to this pain that I was feeling. I was so deeply offended and hurt and in my mind I kept thinking about all the things that I’d done to magnify this calling. All the great sacrifices I’d made, the time I so freely gave, how much of me I put into this calling for years and years and I just kept hearing those words in my head, “she’ll be easy to replace”.
Choose Not To Be Offended
I was so offended and crushed. Then to make matters worse, I felt so much guilt because I’d remember things like, Elder Bednar saying, “Choose not to be offended” and “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew).
And I just struggled with that because at that time I didn’t know how to not choose to be offended. I prayed constantly for relief for comfort, for forgiveness and by divine design I’m absolutely sure of it, He gave me life coaching – which goes so beautifully hand in hand with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I learned that I had fallen prey to “the mix up” and I’m betting you have too, you just didn’t know it.
The Mix Up Formula
The mix up looks like this:
Someone said words + I’m HURT + Think about it – (Ruminate is more like it)
In my case, bishopric member said, “She’ll be easy to replace” + HURT (dagger to my heart) + Then I had thoughts, How could they say that to me?! I’ve magnified that calling! I had two babies in that calling and still rocked that calling!
Stinks, right? There’s a big problem with operating from the Mix Up too. Know what it is?
The problem is that operating from this mix up gives others power to HURT my feelings and the worst part of that is that I would have to wait for THEM to FIX it for me to feel better, because here’s the double whammy – what if they NEVER fix it?
Think about that for a sec. Let it sit in. We need them to apologize, to recognize what the offense was so that we can FEEL better. Here’s the truth though, our feelings don’t come from what others do or say (even if it feels like it). Our feelings come from our thoughts – what we make their words (or actions- even inaction) mean.
The Correct Model
Here’s the CORRECT model:
Someone said words + I have thoughts about those words + I feel _________.
Back to my experience:
He said, “She’ll be easy to replace” + I THOUGHT, “How dare he? Haven’t I given my ALL to this calling? Did it all mean nothing? That I’m ‘easy to replace?” + Now I’m hurt
But notice, I wasn’t hurt by HIS words. I was hurt by MY THOUGHTS. I was hurt by what I made those words mean about me.
Agent to Act
Operating from the correct model gives me ALL my power back. It allows me to be “an agent to act and not to be acted upon”. I get to decide what I want to think about that. Think about it, if he had said those words to someone else about choir and maybe they weren’t too keen on that calling they wouldn’t think the same thoughts that I was thinking. They’d probably think, “THANK YOU! FINALLY! Get me out of this! Phew!”
But to me, it was devastating because I made it mean that all my years of dedication and time and love meant nothing, that truly, I was easy to replace.
No wonder why I was so hurt. So offended. So stuck.
People are people. Humans say, think, do crazy things sometimes. They’re going to always and thankfully we don’t have to be tossed to and fro by these surprise encounters. How scary would it be if we were at the mercy of their words and actions, to not know each morning how you’re going to feel by the end of the day? You’d have to go around tip toeing HOPING that these other humans treat you kindly and say only pleasant things to you.
But it doesn’t have to be scary because THEY CANNOT HURT YOU.
You get to decide
You get to decide, use your agency to decide what you want to think about their words, thoughts, and actions.
You get to decide what you want to make those words and actions mean about you.
In short, you get to decide whether or not you want to be hurt and offended.
David A. Bednar said, “Choose NOT to be offended”. He said that because it IS a choice. Sometimes you might want to still choose hurt. Sometimes you still might choose disappointment and that’s okay. It’s okay because if you’re creating it. If you OWN that you’re choosing to be hurt – that YOU hurt your feelings by what you’re making it mean, then the ball is in your court. You can UNCHOOSE it when you’re ready.
Byron Katie once said, “The world is nothing but my perception of it. I see only through myself. I hear only through the filter of my story.”
We’re all given circumstances, everyday, all day. It’s how we choose, how we use our agency to choose how we want to interpret those circumstances that create our world. It’s through the story we tell ourselves, the filter we use to see ourselves that create how we feel.
This is great news because you don’t ever have to be a victim anymore if you chose not to be. Nothing in the world has to change for you to feel how you want NOW.