We’ve all seen the ranting posts on facebook- things like:
“Certain people just need to keep their noses out of other people’s business!”
“If people say they’re going to do something, they need to step up and do it and stop hiding behind stupid excuses.”
“I can NOT handle this crap anymore! I am not your verbal punching bag!"
What do these kinds of posts have in common?
Typically the author knows the accused will not see it (or if they do, it is vague enough to allow for deniability) and they take pleasure in venting to the world in a way that does not rock the boat with the accused, but may elicit sympathy from others.
Why is this a concern?
1. This does not solve the problem. So often, people get angry about others’ behavior, but rather than actually talk to them about the way their behavior is negatively affecting them, they choose to rant and rave about it to everyone EXCEPT the person causing the frustration. How is this person supposed to know that you’re upset? (Hint: subtle, nonverbal cues like aloofness or sarcasm do not count.) How is this person supposed to fix the problem if they don’t even know that there is a problem? (Despite your narcissistic beliefs, they are probably not out to get you. Just sayin’.)
2. You teach people how to treat you. Any time you have an issue with someone but you choose to grumble about it to others while keeping the perpetrator in the dark, you are teaching them that their behavior is okay. Because as far as they know what they’re doing isn’t affecting you at all. And then, when the same behavior continues from them, you are surprised and angry and the rants intensify.
Really? And this makes sense because...?
3. The ones causing your wrath are not the ones experiencing it. You save that for the people you actually like. You feel comfortable with the ones you love the most. You know you can rant and rave and they’ll still love you. You can be vulnerable with them, so you take advantage of it, and they get to hear all about how ticked off you are as you make snide comments at texts coming on your phone, or go off about how dumb your boss is.
Newsflash: This is not fun for them. And it’s not fair to them either.
Here’s the long and the short of it: Because you are afraid to be vulnerable, you let people get away with treating you like crud, then you abuse the ones who love you the most (and would never treat you like crud) by treating them like crud because of the person who did it to you. The more you get treated like crud, the more you spew the effects of it all over the special people in your life, while continuing to let the original crud-creator go on his or her happy-go-lucky way.
In the words of Dr. Phil: So, how’s that working for ya?
Chances are, IT DOESN’T.
So what do you do?
1. Pick your battles. Ask yourself, is this worth fighting for? Can I brush this off, or am I willing to do what it takes to stand up for myself? Often at this juncture, you may realize that, for the sake of your sanity and your love of those around you, you can simply let it go. But if not...
2. Be honest. Boil down the problem: why is it a problem? Is it a matter of respect? Is it possible the person simply doesn’t realize what they’re doing? Is someone taking advantage of you? Get down to the heart of the problem and really think it through. You need to have confidence that you have a case before you go any further.
3. Make a plan. Personally, if I have a big issue with someone that I know needs attention but I’m afraid I’ll screw it up if I try to talk to them, I will put it in writing. That gives me time to organize, to edit, and to decide if it’s really something I can take ownership of. Also, most people are happy to accept a well-written letter, as most people like to avoid confrontation. (Sometimes I write the letter, realize I’m being an idiot, then crumple it up and throw it away and move on with my life.)
4. Just do it and leave your loved ones out of it (mostly). Now it’s time to confront the offending party. You can do this in person, on the phone, or in writing.
To prepare, you can ask someone close to you if they would mind hearing your thoughts on the matter. But- THIS IS NOT A GRIPE SESSION. This is a practice to see how your concerns might be received by the offending party, and your loved one will probably be happy to help you out. Then just do it. Send the letter, arrange the meeting, make the call: whatever you have to do to start communicating like a grown-up.
**Emotional Troll Disclaimer** There are some people in this world who, for whatever reason, feel it is their purpose in life to make others’ lives miserable with the things they say and do. I like to call these people Emotional Trolls. I would like to think that some of them are just oblivious. And that maybe some of them have deeper issues that have nothing at all to do with the people they hurt. Others could be vengeful for whatever reason. But no matter why they act the way they do, they exist, and usually- here is the important part- they do not change. They will continue to trample you under their angry feet for as long as you let them.
If these trolls are people that you don’t know (many of them lurk online and leave nasty comments and snarky reviews) then simply ignore them. If, however, they are people in your life (*cough*extendedfamilymembers*cough*) your best bet is to simply love them from afar. Accept that they are who they are, and avoid them if you can, but if not, just try to roll with the punches. Don’t let them be the ones causing you to grumble at the ones who are actually good to you. Remember that their behavior has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them and their own issues. Be thankful that you and the ones you hold dear would never treat people that way.
You can do it. You can ditch the cryptic Facebook posts and gripe sessions and start being a grown-up. I know you can.