As I mentioned in my last Postcard, I am a Scorpio. We may think what we want about horoscopes, but certain characteristics hold true for me. I am determined, mostly brave, loyal, honest and ambitious. If you are kind to me, I will give you (almost) anything. But I can also be jealous, stubborn and we all know that Scorpios are the masters of holding grudges. Treat me the wrong way and I may sting you.
I am also very bad at controlling my emotions. I certainly do have to work on my non-existent poker face. Especially if I experience injustice or if people are mean or bully me or my loved ones. It happens again and again. There are certain toxic people who we cannot cut out completely from our lives. We may be able to limit interaction to a minimum, but in certain circumstances, we have to deal with them and their negative energy and meanness.
Over the years, I tried different approaches. Most of them were confrontational. I upset a lot of people with that strategy – not only the mean person in question but also those who I may tried to defend in that situation. In German there is a negative term called “Furie”. It is used for women only (no comment) and basically means that somebody is a ferocious woman. It is also commonly used for difficult female bosses. In many of the situations my counterpart had tried to paint me as such a “Furie” for some time and when I defended others or myself in a confrontational way, I just reinforced their image.
Even though we are grown ups, it is a bit like the dynamic in Kindergarten or High School. The “mean kids” want to prove that you are the hostile, angry and mean one. Haven’t we all been in a situation where by the facts we were right, yet, because somebody “framed” us or managed to reinforce their image of us, nobody believed us? And by getting angry, we just made it worse. If you play by their rules, you just reinforce the image they want to paint of you. If you are kind, what can they do? Their plan will not work out and you will just annoy them even more.
Some people thrive on hurting others or by causing negativity. I do think – or hope – that these people are the minority. I try to put myself in another person’s shoes. Why are they reacting the way they do? Is something bothering them? Very often it is not about you, it is about them. Some people may just have a bad day or misinterpret my actions. Even those who thrive on negativity may also have their reasons – maybe they are unhappy with their own lives. I will probably never find out what is going on behind their curtains. But by default it is probably better to fight back with kindness. If somebody is mean to me, I do not want play according to their rules. I do not want to be mean, angry or spiteful, regardless of the motives of my counterparts.
In a coaching session, I once asked what I can do if somebody attacks me. How could I fight back without aggression and reinforcing their image of me as a “Furie”? “Take a step back. If you have a glass of water near you, take a sip. I tend to imagine that I pull down a blind in front of me for a second, then I pull it back up and only after that I answer,” the coach said. Let me tell you it works. And sometimes, exactly that silence of a few seconds, the lack of an emotional reaction upsets your counterparts even more. The easiest revenge seems to be to be mean as well. It may work, but for sure it needs a lot of energy and drains you. Are they really worth your energy? Or do their stupid comments and games fall into the category of small things “we should not sweat”?
I am not saying this is easy. And I have to admit that I am also struggling to apply this. I am certainly not a calm person who smiles all the time. I constantly have to work on myself. And I do fail too. There are still situations where I cannot control myself, I let my anger rule my mind and make a snappy comment, only to realise that I have given them what they wanted. But I do have to say when I applied the kindness strategy, it really p***ed them off. Of course, it does not mean that you let them bully you around and just let them get away with it. But your kindness in their face will be difficult to handle. They want a reaction from you and if they do not get it, they lost.
Most importantly, being kind is a true win for you. It shows you do not allow others to dictate how you feel. You do not allow toxic people space in your head. You are the master of your mind, it is entirely your choice. If you smile, do not show them how you feel and move on quickly, it is not only the best for your own sanity, but it will also annoy them. It will drive them crazy tHow could you not be bothered by this?
The best revenge is to be happy, to live your life the way you want it to live and not care about other people. If you are happy with yourself, what can others do to you? It is a process to get there. I am on the same journey as you are but ultimately, I hope we can reach this goal.