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Have you been feeling “dissed?”

Disrespect has popped up several times for me lately — in conversations and in my news feed.

So, that tells me it’s on people’s minds.

During this pandemic period, the feeling of being “dissed” can intensify because we don’t have as many opportunities to connect personally and process situations. Maybe there’s just a misunderstanding. Or “message sent wasn’t message received.” Sometimes texts, emails and social media posts don’t convey the whole story.

Which brings me to two of my favorite concepts for dealing with life:

  • Don’t take things personally.
  • Don’t make assumptions.

These two simple, yet powerful, statements are from the book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. If I could just tattoo them to my forehead — and remember to apply them in all situations — life would be much more peaceful.

I’ve become more aware of these concepts when I feel uneasy. At times it becomes clear I’ve gone down a rabbit hole, and these principles bring me back.

Mirrors, trolls and junk mail

When you feel someone is disrespecting you, stop to see if you may be disrespecting yourself. Are you craving acceptance from someone else — to fill that void where you don’t totally accept yourself? Often, we can project these feelings outwardly, onto someone else.

Author Glennon Doyle shares a painful experience she had with blogging. “I’d vowed to be vocal and vulnerable, whatever the consequences,” says Doyle, author of the book “Untamed.”

“After reading some toxic comments, though, I felt the attacks were ultrapersonal,” she said.

“I wanted to take back everything and retreat with my family into a Wi-Fi-free rainforest, where the only venom directed at me would be from reptiles.”

Doyle explained to her sister, “I’ve ruined my life and my kids’ lives. I should never have put us out there to be eaten alive. What was I thinking?”

Her sister responded, “If we’re too busy worrying what the world thinks about us — or what we need to change before we’re worthy enough to share our ideas — we’ll never get to what needs changing in the world. What does any of that white noise have to do with your work?”

Doyle agreed.

“It would be nuts to let the trolls decide whether I should express myself, she admitted. “My role is to put myself out there and to lead with courage. It would be unforgivable to let random criticism stop me from doing what I was meant to do.”

From then on, Doyle resolved to deal with any mean-spirited comments the same way she deals with junk mail — toss it.

The emotional toolbox

Here are a few tips and techniques that may be helpful if you feel you’ve been “dissed.”

  • Intention — Assess the other person’s intent. Maybe he or she didn’t set out to hurt you. The comments or actions just touched a nerve.
  • Clarification — Ask for clarification, if necessary. Perhaps you misunderstood.
  • Your reaction — Are you taking things personally — or making an assumption?
  • Confronting the other person — Stop and decide what to say before you speak. Be direct, but polite. Calmly explain how this behavior has affected you.
  • Use “I-focused” language: “I feel very disrespected when you speak to me in that tone of voice.” “I find those kinds of jokes really upsetting. Please don’t joke like that in front of me anymore.”
  • Give them a chance to respond — Listen and rephrase what he or she says. “So, you’re saying you weren’t ignoring me this morning. You were just distracted, right?”
  • Set clear boundaries if the behavior is a pattern — Let the other person know what you are — and are not — willing to tolerate. “If you continue to play with your phone and ignore me when we’re together, I won’t be able to hang out with you.”

Constructive criticism

Maybe you feel you have a responsibility to play devil’s advocate. This is a delicate balance. Before barging in, make sure the other person has asked for your help to process a situation.

True friendship acknowledges imperfections and focuses on positive aspects instead of faults.

As a general rule, your friends don’t like you to comment upon their failings any more than you like them to criticize you. When your friends are discouraged or disappointed in themselves, a word of encouragement may go a lot further than a sermon.

I remember a phrase I heard from a soul friend years ago — when she was observing a certain hairstyle I was trying out. “It’s not your best look,” she said. And that phrase has stuck. It carried the message, although it wasn’t disrespectful. And now we laugh about the phrase as we use it.

Then there’s that inner voice. “Most of us are our own worst critics and expect more from ourselves than anyone else ever would,” says author Napoleon Hill. “We’re painfully aware of our shortcomings. We don’t need to be reminded of them by our friends.”

It’s all a matter of perspective. A good buddy has shared a phrase with me over the years that puts a humorous spin on our flaws.

“If I were perfect, I’d have better friends.”

©2020 Linda Arnold Live Life Fully, all rights reserved. Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is a syndicated columnist, psychological counselor and founder of a multistate marketing company. Reader comments are welcome at linda@lindaarnold.org For information on her books, go to www.lindaarnold.org.