I try with all my heart to be the best human I can be, but every time I turn around somebody’s nose is out of joint about something.
For a while I thought it was me – a kindergartner in human interaction so beat up by my extended family’s personal issues, addictions, perceptions, entitlements, needs and self-gratifications – that basically I never moved myself out of a wounded child frame of mind, and therefore could never be me. The now grown up, knowledgeable, adept and internally powerful me.
A big part of the problem is that for years, maybe forever, I tried to meet other people’s needs, not hurt their psyches or try to fix whatever calamity was at my feet because of their own actions and subsequent reactions. That was a skill learned in childhood. But along the way I somehow also learned to take other people’s personal issues personally.
Why? Because for whatever reason, I inadvertently said or did something that caused people to feel triggered about whatever was going on inside of them – conscious or even unconscious, and they got bent out of shape. It took me a while to realize this, but it’s starting to finally make sense.
For example, my ex-husband’s nose seems frequently out of joint when we don’t agree about money or support related to our kids. His former gambling addiction really gets in the way. This is about our personal inner landscapes – he only sees from his frame of reference. So whenever things come up around money, he gets quite upset. He denies it but the kids and I see it – from our frame of reference.
There are several in my orbit who make me feel like something is my fault when it’s totally not. Key words: make me feel. I internalize other people’s problems, and oftentimes just by default because we are personally connected.
A mentor and one of my greatest teachers recently pointed this out to me. It was after a social media post she wrote about her own latest life lessons. Besides the fact it’s helpful to watch someone who is exceptionally wise successfully navigate through her own personal challenges, I somehow felt partially responsible for her struggle.
She assured me I’m not, and explained that internalizing means we take things on that aren’t even about us, and apply them to ourselves as if we participated, or are somehow part of that story. We inadvertently make it about us, even when it’s not. I must have learned to internalize somewhere along the way.
I’ll note that in some instances, it’s hard to not do that when we live surrounded by people who blame. That’s a whole other issue. Some people simply refuse – and I’ll go a step farther even to say don’t recognize – their own role and responsibility in relationships. So when they incessantly blame us it becomes easy to internalize unless we have developed the skill of discerning what’s their part and and what’s ours. I’m still learning.
But it doesn’t feel good to internalize or take responsibility for other people’s stuff, really they can have it. When their nose gets out of joint, I’m sorry, but my internal door is now closed. I’m finally taking care of me…that’s the best that I can be.