I find it interesting how often we can take a comment made by someone else, focus on it, and attribute all kinds of meanings to it. It seems to be especially the case when we perceive the comment as negative or as some form of criticism; at least that’s how it is for me. The rest of the conversation may have been wonderful but that one comment will stick in my head and will not want to leave. The comment may not hold the meaning(s) that I attribute to it, but then again it might. I often don’t know. Sometimes it’s just the phrasing of a comment or the tone of voice used that affects me and not the actual words.
I’m talking about this in a general sense, not in regards to any certain individual or conversation. I used to think like this often. It was exhausting and emotionally painful. It happens less frequently these days. But, when I get a little insecure, a little anxious, my thoughts can spin and I start to panic about what was said and what it means. Old issues I thought I’d worked through, pop up with their ugly heads. I know it is exhausting and irritating to others to be around me when I am like this. I am absolutely miserable when it happens. I often need someone (besides myself) to tell me to stop it, that I’m okay. Now that I think about it, I do this with positive comments/actions as well. I think about them and the meaning held. This is much more pleasant.
Sometimes I am simply confused by a comment or don’t understand and I ask for clarification. Other times I am hurt – especially if it contradicts previous comments by the person. Depending on who the person is, I can ask them what was meant just to reassure myself. Others are hurt if I question anything they’ve said and/or take offense sometimes, taking what I’ve said and end up giving what I’ve just said a negative meaning. I’m not criticizing or making accusations when I ask for clarification. It’s just me trying my best to take care of myself and to have healthy positive relationships.
While some of my thoughts about the meaning of a comment may be correct, it is just a comment and I have little, if any, control over it. It may hold a meaning that I don’t like or that is hurtful to me. It is also possible that the comment has nothing to do with me at all. It’s always good for me to remember that it’s not always about me and other people have their own issues. If their comment did hold the meaning I originally thought, I don’t have to give that person or their comments power over me, at least I don’t want to.