Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's Nothing Personal

I have always hated hearing that.  Someone says something that you don't want to hear, something nasty, or not so nasty but definitely bruises your ego, and then follows it up with a jab of, "It's nothing personal".  Now that's a sure fire way of making me want to punch you in the face.

But the more I think about this, the more I'm realizing that it does make sense. From a more mature and spiritual perspective, I can now appreciate the point that when things are said or done to us, rarely is it really about us, but more about the other person.

The epiphany hit me when I thought of how long I have been waiting for someone to apologize to me for a transgression made. Then it finally occurred to me that it's never going to happen and it's not simply because the other person is arrogant or full of pride (although perhaps that may be a small part of the problem).  I realized that the answer is simply because this person does not have it in her and therefore cannot give it.  I know so much about this person and everything she has gone through...from a difficult childhood to being in abusive relationships and countless other heartbreaking (soul-breaking) life events.  In the grand scheme of things, it is highly possible that she does not even see the hurt she has caused me given that it doesn't even 'register' in her 'transgression scale'.  The other thing worth considering is that I don't think she has ever gotten any apologies from those who have truly hurt her in her past.  So, how can she offer me something she doesn't possess, doesn't know how to do or deliver?  It simply does not make sense for me to expect something from someone when what I want is something the other person does not possess.  

How many times have we expected something from someone, not knowing that they do not have it to give?  

It isn't fair to expect someone to be affectionate towards us, when that person never experienced enough affection to truly learn it.

It isn't fair to expect honesty from someone who has consistently been lied to, cheated, or betrayed.

It isn't fair to expect compassion, empathy, or unconditional love from someone who was never made to feel valued for who he is, and instead felt constantly used and appreciated only for what he possessed and could give.  

This is not about making excuses for someone's behavior or faults.  Rather I am proposing that WE be more responsible for OUR own decisions and actions.  The truth is, we may never know everything about another person's life to fully explain their choices and make sense of their thinking.  And even if you were able to do all that, isn't it that the final question is still what YOU will do with that information?  It's our business to decide how to respond to situations.  It's not our business to control how others decide to relate to us.

Regardless of how others are towards us and whatever justifications there may be, the fact remains that we really only have control over ourselves.  If you are unhappy with how you are being treated, the only real question is if you will accept it and put up with it, or if you will reject it and walk away.  Your choice inevitably defines who you are, hence this is where it becomes completely about YOU. In this respect, it completely becomes truly personal.

*Photo credit: By Bryan Helfrich, Alias52 [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons