As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk… As God is my witness…
―Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind
There are events that shake us to the core, change how we view the world and our place in it: like the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, sudden deaths, being diagnosed with a life threatening disease and of course family dynamics can throw us for a loop too. But just as often as not, it’s little meaningless exchanges that catch us off guard, upset us and get us off track.
An article entitled “One Question that Will Free You from Judgments and Drama” written by Angel Chernoff on www.marcandangel.com drives this point home for me and offers a lovely response to anyone who disrespects my truth. In the article Angel writes, “You have to put in the effort and stand strong every day to honor your own ideas, feelings, intuitions and aspirations… So today, I invite you to make this your lifelong motto: ‘I respectfully do not care.’ Say it to anyone who passes judgment on something you strongly believe in or something that makes you who you are. I find these words particularly poignant because although I’m feeling centered and strong today, earlier this week I was feeling anything but.
A few days ago, I was the target of a verbal sneak attacks. During a class break at Alliance Française, a group of us were chatting; basic small talk between people who don’t know each other very well. And one of the women inquired if I had children. I said no. And she then asked if I was married and again I said no and I added that I really didn’t see the point. As if fascinated by my responses, she asked me my age, as if to say only youth and inexperience could produce such responses. I told her I’m 48. In disbelief she asking if I am afraid and again I said no. And I asked, why should I be?
At this point one of the women, perhaps in her early twenties, piped in and started telling me why I needed to get married and have children…with the tone of someone who staunchly believes in what she is saying and feels it’s her duty to correct everyone and anyone who strays from the right path. Honestly after the first sentence I stopped listening. I just looked at her; a bit shocked, and asked myself, why I was with these people. I then quickly babbled something about wanted to get something to drink before the break ended and went and got a coffee.
That little exchange sent me into an emotional tailspin. All logic, all connection to my intuition, all of my carefully thought out plans were jettisoned out the window. I seriously started to question everything I was doing, even those things that are going so well and feel so right. What the hell am I doing here in Brussels? Why couldn’t I just be like everybody else? Why didn’t my biological clock ring? Rational? No, but that’s how it happens, right? She pushed all my buttons: the one that doesn’t like being criticized or being rejected, the little part of me that still wishes I were just like everyone else or that everyone likes me.
I’m back in good form today, but after reading this article I’ll certainly remember to say, “I respectfully do not care” while accepting that whatever the person is saying is a perfectly good choice for them. So it will go the next time someone tries to force their ideas on me. I consider that one phase to be the most simple and profound in Angel Chernoff’s article. And what I really love about the phrase lays in the fact that I don’t even have to say it out loud. I can simply think it when someone comes at me with their BS, raise an eyebrow and politely walk away integrity intact.
If or when you have a similar experience, rest in the moment, lean into what’s happening and with curiosity learn a little bit more about who you are and where you are right now.
Do people push your buttons or try to get you to change your truth?
How do you cope?