Many times in the last six months I have found the words, “Don’t be that person”, being spoken by me to others or even as a reminder to myself; 99% of me believed this was the correct philosophy in life. But recently, things have not seemed nearly as clear-cut as they once did.
I am a black and white kind of girl. I am the most happy when things are either one way or the other; when a particular circumstance always calls for the same response, when a certain behavior yields predictable reactions. But more so every day, it seems this is not the case.
I like to think of myself as kind…I try to BE kind. Increasingly though, in many instances kindness has proven to be just a synonym for “doormat”. Those wishing to impose their will, or opinions, or behaviors on others see kindness as a sort of acquiescence; the exposure of a tender underbelly serving as invitation for the attempt at crushing dominance.
But we are told to “turn the other cheek”, we are told “don’t be that person”. We are conditioned to walk away and in truth, all of that works quite well if you are talking about a complete stranger or even a casual acquaintance. Here, however, is where the water begins to muddy. When the person who hurt you or someone you love is a close friend or a family member what do you do?
I find those that have it in them to hurt others have always had it in them; that these incidents are usually not isolated. So, do we kill the offenders with kindness? Turn the other cheek? Better individuals than I could do that but I am not equipped. I have come to the conclusion that to do that to the most egregious transgressors is to present them with a silver tray containing an invitation to continue to behave badly. It’s what they want; control, dominance, chaos. And they want more, they want conflict, confrontation and anger. They feed on it, they grow stronger with it while giving themselves permission to play victim.
Then do we give it back to them tenfold, this vehemence, hostility and passive-aggression? Do we try to double-down on the hurtfulness to teach them a lesson about how to treat others? No. They don’t care who they hurt, it was the goal all along. The solution is to do nothing but one soul-saving thing. You see, people who behave badly, who see the world as revolving around their personal axis, will never learn anything no matter how adept the teacher. They have found great satisfaction in the way their world currently turns.
The solution is to have no reaction, to ignore them both figuratively and literally and remove all trace of them from your life. Don’t be kind, don’t be forgiving, don’t be understanding…don’t be anything. For those of us that consider the feelings of others this is a daunting task as we see even the “baddest actors” as having enough redeeming qualities that we don’t wish to hurt them as we have been hurt…but they don’t. At least they don’t as it pertains to us. They have already made clear which rung of the ladder we occupy in their life and often it turns out we haven’t left the ground.
At that realization it is time to fade away. Bestow your kindness on those who understand and appreciate it rather than those who use your good nature against you. They don’t get it…they will never get it and they will see to it that whatever bad feelings they glean from your departure are your fault; they will bear no responsibility no matter what. But in the end you will keep your dignity and will have taken with you the one thing they can’t abide losing, their power over you, real or perceived.
I will continue to always try to be kind, to be helpful, to see the big picture in life, but to be cruel, rude, or hurtful to me or the ones I love is a deal-breaker for me. A doormat? I am not THAT person.