Listen to the podcast: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Its-Not-You–Its-Me-e1l4of8
Recently, I sat in a room of women, ranging in age from 25 to 55. While all of the women were put together, seemed healthy, and certainly had high energy, one in particular found it necessary to speak louder than the others, usually with something negative like “I wish I could still do that” or “I don’t even know why I’m here.”
The scenario was that we were all there working together toward a common goal. Each of us had a task to do and one person was the leader. The group was made up of paid and volunteer members. I assume she was a volunteer, but regardless, no one forced her to be there. It was an elective activity.
When she started commenting on the way I and my younger colleague looked “so nice dressed like that, I could never with my shoulders”, I knew we were heading for rocky waters. Her lack of self-confidence had boiled over into making others feel awkward.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years surrounded by women and men of different cultures, educational backgrounds, and personality spectrums. It was clear as day that this woman felt awkward and perhaps less-than in the situation, and instead of being honest with us or herself, resorted to attention-seeking and defensive behavior.
Being defensive is quite simply a mechanism to deal with insecurity and fear. We pretend we don’t care, we create an environment where everyone is on edge (effectively, bringing everyone down to our own level of awkward), and we complain. We desperately seek validation from the group, but are disappointed if it doesn’t occur naturally – and often fish for compliments instead.
This particular woman yearned for me to say, “Oh, you look great in that dress,” and even when I did, she rolled her eyes and scoffed as if it wasn’t organic or that she didn’t prod me to do so in the first place.
How do we change the narrative so that when we are feeling anxious and uncertain, we don’t turn into a moody adolescent?
To start, we need to become more aware of our own emotions. Understanding what is going on in our bodies and minds is the first step toward making a change. Check-in with yourself when the intensity mounts and see how the environment is truly making you feel. Is it them, or is it you?
Second, we need to pause and reflect before we verbalize. For example, if I start complaining right now, how am I going to be perceived? If I embarrass someone, how will that make them feel? How will that make me feel? Is this really the person I want to be?
Third, we need to actively seek opportunities to boost our self-esteem. Whether this means surrounding yourself with a supportive network, shining in an activity you love, or talking to a therapist, whatever the means necessary, it IS necessary.
Everyone can point back to an instance where they were ridiculed or bullied. These times tend to compound and perhaps show up in inopportune or irrelevant moments. However, we can overcome these self-doubts without letting them get the best of us. And a more mature behavior, no matter what your age, can certainly solidify your self-worth and ensure you are well-received by others.