It seems no matter how you try, you cannot stop the judging. Or… can you?
The old saying “What someone else thinks of me is none of my business” turned into something deeper for me around Christmas time. I was a captive audience to a loose acquaintance when she levelled me with the recounting of an alleged opinion of mine (which I had never actually had and never uttered, so, therefore, had never shared). When I rebutted and told her she was mistaken, she smacked me (verbally!) between the eyes with a counter-argument, which was, basically, “Yes you DID say that!” Given that it was a feeling I had apparently had towards another person, I was shaken to the core that I had no control over convincing this person otherwise. The story had already been shaped and decided, without my input (and despite my protests now).
I realised as the days wore on that, when I looked at it in more depth, not only are others’ opinions of me not my business to know or try and change, nor are their recollections of what I’ve said in any way mine to own. I can’t possibly own my own words or actions once they’ve been interpreted by another. Their perspective of me by then is so far beyond my control or power to change. Any number of varying factors – their upbringing, their historical family patterns (and their subsequent conditioning by same), their state of mind and their current environment (including whether any mind-altering substances are shaping their views and memory), who and/or what influences their view of the world, and any other subtle factors – too numerous to name – affecting their very state of wellbeing… – all go into how an individual is likely to reach their conclusions about you. The more familiar they are (or think they are) with you, the faster they will make up their mind.
The incident would not have even registered on this other person’s radar. The conversation continued in another direction and I threw a blanket over it energetically to douse any flames (or retaliations or objections in me that would have only served to highlight this as a sore point for me, which would have no doubt inevitably led to an even more inflamed situation where I would have had to argue my innocence to someone who had clearly already made up their mind about this fictional opinion I had [not] shared with them in the past).
The weeks went by and I was distracted by the busyness of occupying all spare space I had with my dying stepmother. Recently, I was interested to discover amongst her many things a document on verbal abuse. Many moons ago, I spent some years with her as a co-facilitator in the Alternatives To Violence Project (or AVP) and violence, in all its varied and obvious as well as subtle undermining forms, was highlighted in my everyday life. The document brought my awareness back to those times over my recent past where I may have relaxed any or all of these points below.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have felt the sting of any and all (mostly, all) these verbally abusive digs. As a child growing up, I heard them over and over. As a teen, even more. By the time I was flapping my own wings, it was under the weight of years and years worth of conditioning to expect hurtful comebacks – slights on my sensitivity, telling me what I was feeling, telling me what I was feeling was wrong or incorrect, trivialising whatever I did say when I got up the nerve to say it out loud, name-calling at its most horrific (delivered by a parent, it doesn’t get much more hurtful when you’re a kid) – and so I began adult life unwittingly very much hypersensitive to such abuse. So aware of it was I that I found much of it very easy to avoid inflicting on others.
But my respect has slipped from time to time. Nobody’s perfect – I’ll be the first to put up my hand and say I’m not trying to pull a shifty here and pretend I am! The time is now for me to remember this list, though, and get back to being mindful of my language. If I want my daughter to avoid being hurt by such abuse, she must not be exposed to it as much as I am capable of ensuring (so that the chances of being attracted to it are greatly reduced). I can see already the points that could quite easily become commonplace as a desperate/heavy-handed parent, even in my diligent and aware state, and it is simply not acceptable of me to justify this sort of verbal abuse. Whatever the reason.
Where once I could read that list and believe I was only the recipient and never the perpetrator, now I revisit it and discover I am, indeed, both. That if I am not perpetually vigilant and mindful, I too am perpetrating violence in what I say. It made the scenario with the acquaintance who now harbours this recollection of something I never said even more important as a lesson for me. What I can do – in fact, all I can do – is stick to the teachings of the 15 categories of verbal abuse and ensure I neither perpetuate it or put myself in a position where I am the brunt of it.
This will ensure I am taking a soul stance of rejecting that form of energy and simply not allowing it the space in my awareness or pattern.
Do you ever reach stages where the only option you feel that you have left is to mind, monitor and be diligent with your own behaviour? Do you ever stop to realise how much that helps not only you, but your neighbour?
15 CATEGORIES OF VERBAL ABUSE