Do you ever notice how the best people – the people who do the most good in the world, the caretakers, the responsible middle children, the most upright, accommodating and caring citizens and friends – are always the first ones to get the worst kind of treatment? They’re the ones who get yelled at and criticized the most, the ones who get blamed for stuff they didn’t do, the ones who have to pick up after everyone else’s literal and figurative mess, the ones who get cheated, lied to, and taken advantage of. They hold themselves to the highest standards of morality and accountability in order to help those around them who are in need, and yet on the rare occasion that they fail (not due to inadequacy, but just because they happen to be, oh I don’t know, human), the very people who they help are so often the first ones to kick them in the shin, call them out on their shortcomings, and then not even have the decency to stick around and let the poor person defend themselves.
I happen to be friends with a lot of exceedingly good people, so I see this kind of thing a lot. It makes me sad because they don’t deserve it. Nobody deserves to be treated like trash, least of all the ones who are trying so hard to make the world better.
We probably can’t do anything about the mean people who do the hurting. The world is full of them, and we will never run short of people who will use us and abuse us for simply being good. But if you’re someone who finds yourself constantly getting trashed for being a do-gooder, this one’s for you. It’s a small collection of tips that I’ve either given, learned or observed other people use in their own lives. It’s helped them along the way, and I’m hoping it will help you, too.
How to Live with Meanies
- Remember: it’s not about you. It’s a lot easier to cope with another person’s bad behavior when you remember that the behavior is only the tip of the iceberg. If a person does something bad to you, it’s most likely because they have some greater struggle going on inside, whether from current circumstances or illnesses, or a bad past, or a combination of a bunch of things. And unless you were the cause of those things, you have to remember that the mean behavior is not meant for you, but instead for all the other things that trouble them. And more likely than not, what troubles them is always far greater than the trouble that they just gave you.
- Say what you feel. Even if it’s bad. The reason why you’re such a good person in the first place is because you have a good heart. The greater the heart, the greater the heart ache. So acknowledge your feelings, say it out loud, whether or not the meanie is there for you to say it to. Don’t punish yourself for being mad, because you have a right to be mad if you’ve just had poop handed to you by someone else for no good reason. Refusing to acknowledge the emotion does not make it go away. It only adds to your injury and bitterness, except this time you would also have yourself to blame.
- Pray. And be honest. God knows when you’re upset. It’s all well and good to ask God to bless the person who hurt you, but only if you really mean it. The best prayers are the ones that are honest, and guess what – you can’t honestly ask God to bless your enemies if in your heart you have not honestly been able to forgive them or get past whatever pain they may have caused you. So when you pray, be honest. Don’t tell God what you think he or your Sunday school teachers would want to hear. There’s no point in pretending; you might fool your Sunday school teachers, but God knows the truth whether you say it or not. Tell God about the hurts in your heart, ask him to make them better, and then hecan enable you to pray for the other, and for real this time.
- Get moving. Nothing inflames negative energy more than idly sitting alone, quietly dwelling on the injustice that was just dealt to you, listening to the sound of your own heart breaking, singing Mad World to yourself. Get up, wash your face, have a drink of water and do something. Anything. Write in a journal. Go for a run. Bake a cake (save me a piece). I find that productivity is a great antidote to feeling sad, so fight the urge to sit in your pajamas all day. You have a right to be mad and upset, but nobody said you had a right to take a break from general human life.