We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. (Winston Churchill)
In my varied experience, mean people all have one thing in common: they are all petty, insecure, miserable human beings who are fixated on taking their unhappiness out on others in a desperate attempt to make themselves feel better. The truth is, when we are happy, we are motivated to share our happiness with those around us. We might smile at people, brightening up their day. We might offer to make someone a drink or perhaps let them out of the carpark ahead of us. In short, we can afford to be kind. This is because kindness is more readily displayed when we have inward feelings of contentment, peace and happiness.
Conversely, mean people are showing everybody just how rotten, barren and negative they are on the inside. Of course, not all unhappy people are mean. But I believe that all mean people are fundamentally unhappy.
A classic example is of a mean and petty boss who chooses to focus on the small things that you didn’t do that week and to overlook the many great things you did do. This simple choice of dwelling on the negatives and dismissing the positives is representative of a mean-spirited mentality. We might ask ourselves why he chooses to be so negative and unhelpful – remember, it is a choice. The answer can be reduced to the fact that he is unhappy. He is unfulfilled in his work life, social life, love life and family life. As a result of his overall lack of success in life, he tries to elevate his sad, lowly existence by being mean to those around him, especially those whom he considers to be in a position of less power. This is his best effort to try to drag people down to his level of dissatisfaction.
This example of the petty boss is an incredibly common scenario, yet it often still affects us. Some of us might get angry, some of us might get upset, some of us might laugh it off. How we deal with another person’s meanness towards us can be a very powerful indicator of our inner strength and ability to rise above negativity. We must always challenge and usurp any attempts which aim to lower our quality of life or self-esteem.
We are in control of who can enter our mental and emotional space.
We can choose to welcome people into our emotional space who will improve our physical and mental health. Likewise, we can bar the windows and bolt the doors to those odious individuals whose sole aim is to drag other people down into their own pit of misery. Each and every one of us has the power to patrol our personal portals.
In my experience, mean people can’t stand to be around happy, confident and content people. However well mean people may (or may not!) try to mask it, there is always an undercurrent of jealousy and spite that provides the constant fuel for their meanness and negativity. For the unsuspecting happy, kind-hearted person, this can be hard if not impossible to detect. Instead, we might start to question our abilities or to doubt our judgement, or even begin to wonder if the mean person “has a point”. This is the turning point. In these situations, we need to take a step back and take time to do something we enjoy. This might be exercise, cooking, painting or anything that brings us satisfaction. When we are in a space of neutrality, we can then reassess the situation. Whatever conclusion we come to, we should trust our gut instincts because they are always right. If we feel that we are being treated unfairly, it is because we are. If, after 2 hours in the gym, we look back on our day at work and conclude that our line manager’s actions were motivated by jealousy and spite, it is because they were. The important question is: where do we go from here? How do we move forward in a productive and confident manner that protects our wellbeing? The answer is that we need to ensure that we have enough self-confidence and emotional resilience to rise above any meanness or negativity that comes our way. We cannot rely on others to regulate or protect our happiness.
Anybody who is trying to bring you down is already beneath you.
In the face of meanness we must hold on to our dignity and remind ourselves what we live for: our family, our friends, our hobbies and any simple pleasure that puts a smile on our face. Anyone who chooses to fester in their own negative energy, cultivating and spreading meanness like a bacteria, we must always keep at a safe distance.
Once we become aware of the true motivations of mean, petty people, we can choose to laugh, pity or simply to be indifferent towards them. It is important that we do not allow them to take anything from our reserves of happiness, confidence or contentment. We can and we will progress, achieve and succeed despite the efforts of others to pull us back.
Life is full of tasks that we don’t want to do, it’s part of what makes us so strong. Take control of your fears and watch as you astonish yourself with your own strength!
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. (Mother Teresa)
Sustainable Giving for Radiators
It is often said that there are two types of people in life: radiators and drains: those who give and those who take. Natural radiators are often magnets for drains, who sense our warmth and energy and come flocking to drink it up. This, of course, can be very draining. So what can we radiators do to protect ourselves against depletion?
It is very difficult for any of us to change our fundamental nature. For radiators, the natural desire to give is spontaneous and overriding. As such, we can often find ourselves having already given away too much of our resources before we realise it. It’s therefore important for radiators to learn to recognise and anticipate situations that can potentially lead us to being bled dry. This way, we can take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves from overuse, helping to maintain a healthy, happy and balanced life. As radiators, we need to ensure that whilst we love to give, we are still able to retain a little heat, warmth and energy for our own needs.
~ Invest Your Energy ~
Investing our energy into positive projects that benefit multiple individuals can be an efficient way of helping others, without using up all our resources and leaving us feeling sapped at the end of the day. This might take the form of a motivational blog that can be accessed time and time again, featuring Daily Quotes to inspire and support others, whilst simultaneously serving to replenish our own mental reserves. Another type of positive project might be investing in a charitable cause that we believe in, something that is both sustainable and fulfilling. These are just two examples of how strategically directing our energy and resources allows us to regulate our expenditure. This type of regulation is useful for those of us who are drawn to committing too much of our physical and mental strength to fixing other people’s problems, at the expense of our own wellbeing. Yes, it’s good to give, but we can only successfully give from what we’ve got. Situations in which we’re giving from what we haven’t got is not only detrimental to our welfare, but invariably leads to feelings of frustration and resentment, both towards ourselves and towards those who are draining us. Overall, our health and happiness depends upon our ability to identify times when we are in a position to give and times when we need to step back and refuel.
~ Signs Of Depletion ~
For radiators, it is often difficult to recognise when we are being bled dry. Our loyalty and commitment to significant people or causes in our lives, combined with our tendency to want to help, can sometimes affect our ability to give sustainably. Nevertheless, there are some telltale signs that we are expending more than we have, which, if we heed them, can help us to apply the brakes before we crash and burn. These include physical and mental fatigue, headaches, tense muscles, tight chest, irritability and avoidance. These physical and emotional reactions represent the stress, imbalance and discontent that we feel from overuse, which if left unaddressed can lead to more persistent and pervasive problems. It is therefore crucial for radiators to adopt strategies that guard against depletion in a fast-paced world that is filled with thirsty drains.
Radiators are like the sun, naturally generating warmth, light and energy for the benefit of those around us. However, unlike the sun, we are not indefatigable. This truth never occurs to drains, who are only ever concerned about what they can get. Achieving balance as a radiator means taking positive steps to protect ourselves from exploitation. This does not mean that we should withdraw our emotional or other support from friends and family, but rather we should learn to recognise when we are running low on reserves and be cautious about supplying energy to drains when we are most vulnerable. Drains, by their nature, are never fully satisfied and will always want more. To prevent becoming exhausted, we radiators need to be in control of our giving. We must learn to recognise when to reach for our own stop taps, in order to ensure that we have enough supplies left to meet our own needs. Knowing how and when to say “no” at times when we are less equipped to support others is key to managing our energy reserves and maintaining balance and contentment in our lives.
It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. (Aristotle)