As I get older, I am still trying to find my way through life. Every once in a while, I have an epiphany; something that I hear or read that speaks to me or answers a question in me. I read this today, “You can’t force a person to show you respect, but you CAN refuse to be disrespected!”
I am not perfect, I have made lots of mistakes, but I have never done anything purposely unkind or mean to anyone. I genuinely like people for the most part. In fact, I think I give people WAY too much slack in their behavior towards me. But, once I recognize and accept that something is very wrong in my relationship with someone, I have to make a decision. Sometimes the decision is to just be polite and cordial, but not maintain a close relationship. And, sometimes the decision is to cut someone out of my life. That has only happened twice.
I believe that we are only in control of US! We are only in control of OUR behavior. We are only responsible for OUR mistakes. We are only committed to the people we CHOOSE to be committed to.
When something feels out of control to me, or when I feel I have lost control in a situation, I look at myself first. I ask myself questions like, what did I do to contribute to this? Is this something I am responsible for? Is this MY problem? If it is, I have to take ownership, and make it right. If it is not something I can take responsibility for, then I have to decide whether to be polite and cordial, but very neutral in a situation. That is almost always the first step. But, sometimes the “uncontrollable situation” involves the well-being and safety of me and others I am responsible for. If being neutral doesn’t work there, then I make the decision to cut them out of my life. I don’t do that lightly, and that is why it has only happened twice in my life.
My dad told me a story once, and I’m not clear who it was attributed to, I vaguely remember it being something that Red Skelton said, but I’m not sure. Anyway, someone asked him how many times you forgive someone. He said, I forgive the first time and go on with the relationship. If I forgive a second time, I let it go but I am cautious and slow to trust. If I am asked to forgive a third time, I light a candle and say goodbye because they are dead to me. (My own version of what I remember the story being).
At some point, you need to protect yourself and your loved ones, or else you are just being naive. It may look mean to some, but in life, doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and that’s why it doesn’t always happen.
I believe that it is good to forgive, but don’t be stupid. Words are just words, but people’s actions will show you who they are, don’t ignore that. If someone is constantly disrespectful to you and you accept that, you are teaching them how to treat you. You can’t insist on them treating you with respect, (I guess you can try, but it is their decision how to behave) but you don’t have to allow it to happen, you can REFUSE, even if that means cutting off that relationship.
You have a right to live a happy life, don’t waste time on bad behavior!