Conflict # 22 – It’s Not Personal

“Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.” – Rev. John Watson

A mother bought her son two beautiful sweaters for his twenty-first birthday. Later that week, getting ready for Sunday lunch, he wondered which sweater to wear. He chose one of them, admiring it in the mirror, knowing it would make his mother happy. As he walked into the dining room, Mom looked at him and said, “You don’t like the other one?”

Every couple I’ve worked with understand this. ‘Jack’ does something hurtful, and ‘Jill’ takes it personally. Jill assumes that Jack is trying to hurt her. In some cases this might be true. But usually, probably not.

A real case from my files: Jack and Jill are struggling. They’re very fine people. But Jill has been carrying a heavy burden nearly all her life. In her early years she endured abandonment and sexual abuse, and later turned to alcohol and drugs. She is a trauma victim. Not knowing that healing was possible, she never sought help. Eventually she and Jack found themselves in crisis; they came for counseling. When Jill feels anxious or depressed, Jack holds her and hugs her, which is the last thing she wants. It scares her. Her body shakes and she screams, “Let go!” He does, but it makes him angry, and he stays angry for the rest of the day. He feels rejected. Having talked through this, he is beginning to realize that it has nothing to do with him. This is her issue, her problem. He can certainly help, but not in the way he’s been trying to do. The first step is to stop taking things personally.

Are you anything like these folks? Maybe not. But if we’re honest, we can see that most of us have thought, “It’s all about me”, at some time or another. This is part of our flawed human nature. We have egos. The bigger our ego, the more likely we are to take things personally. On the contrary, if you know someone who is genuinely humble, you know that person is not easily offended.

When you’re in conflict with someone, ask yourself if your ego is getting in the way. If it is, I assure you it doesn’t have to be that way. The wild ego can be tamed. Curious about how to get started? Please call me at 219-309-3928 for a free consultation. I’d be honored to talk with you.

Thanks for reading!