My sweet little pumpkin came down with the dreaded stomach virus this week. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that we made it this long without it, right?
I’ve gotta say…There is nothing more humbling than cleaning up someone else’s…ahem…sickness. It’s got to be my least favorite part of motherhood, and probably the one I dreaded most pre-kids. But I do it because I love my son. And I dealt with it okay, considering my life-long aversion.
I witnessed a whole different kind of nastiness this week. One of the blogs that I follow, The Happiest Home, posted a piece on prioritizing sleep. There was nothing ugly in the post itself, but the comments that followed took a surprisingly nasty turn. One commenter in particular seemed to lash out at the author and the other moms.
I was kind of fascinated to watch things unfold. Was the commenter really going to get what she wanted with her nasty-grams? What did she want anyway? Some sort of win-loss outcome where she comes out on top?
I am sincerely making my best effort not to judge this angry commenter. Who knows what is going on in her life or what she may be dealing with?!
When confronted with nastiness, what is the best way to respond?
Here are my thoughts:
1. Resist the urge to jump in the mud pit. I have jumped in the mud pit before, only to regret it later. It is natural to want to defend yourself. However, do NOT lower yourself to the level of name-calling or insult-exchanging. This is just pointless, counterproductive and undignified. Things kind of just morph into a crazy cycle of back-and-forth that really does not accomplish anything. Nobody “wins” and it will only make you feel icky for stooping to that level.
2. Stand your ground, but choose to remain calm and self-controlled. The offenders sometimes use their aggression in attempt to manipulate (bulldoze) others. There is nothing wrong with defending your point, but keep your emotions in check. Otherwise, it is very easy to tumble into the mud pit and, thus, into the crazy cycle. Sometimes a calm response will stop the aggressive behavior (pull them out of the pit), but not always.
3. Try not to take it too personally. Behind that angry shield, the person lashing out has likely felt threatened in some way. Most of the time it has nothing to do with you, but more with defending their own ego, or sense of self. Their anger could be directed at you if something that you expressed brought up an uncomfortable feeling within them (self-doubt, for example). They mistakenly think that lashing out at you will restore their injured ego. Not true.
4. If the person is still unable to stop the angry behavior, disengage completely. If remaining calm does not pull the angry person out of the pit, it is best to just disengage completely. Walk away. Don’t keep trying to defend your point. The person has no ability to hear/see it anyway. They are just going to continue to spew venom, rather than have any sort of meaningful exchange.
I will leave you with some words of wisdom from a movie that I love, Mean Girls:
“Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.”
Have a great weekend! And stay out of the pit! 🙂