Last week was one of those cruddy weeks for me. Nothing hugely bad happened but a bunch of cruddy situations happened and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.
I do some other work helping other therapists with marketing so I periodically send out emails telling of my services to a few therapist listservs. This time I sent it to a new listserv that I had not sent anything to before. Almost immediately I got a reply that stated I was a narcissist just like Trump and this person would never seek any services from me ever. I was totally stunned. I can understand that my approach and services may not be attractive to everyone but for someone to take the time to send me an email that was just plain mean floored me. This was from another therapist which added to the surprise. And while on my better days I may have been able to just laugh something like that off I was feeling stressed already and it really upset me.
As we do in these situations I reached out to a bunch of friends, including some therapist friends, and showed them the email to get their feedback. Everyone was totally appalled so I knew that my assessment of mean was not off. That helped validate me. But honestly, I still felt off about it. I guess what I most can’t understand is the mean aspect of it. Why would someone deliberately choose to be mean? I try to live with the best intentions philosophy where I assume the person who harmed me had good intentions unless proven otherwise. In this case, I could not do that. If they had just sent the email criticizing my sentence structure I could have gone with that but taking it to the next level invalidated any good intentions.
So I did what I would advise anyone to do I had my feelings about it and I worked towards moving on. I sent no reply (though I will admit to being tempted). I understand that right now most of us are under a lot of stress. We have whatever our life stresses are and then many of us are stressed about the state of the country. I think it is important to always recognize that we never know what burdens anyone is currently carrying if we respond to them cruelly. If you are on the phone with a customer service rep and you are rude you don’t know if that person can brush it off or if they are dealing with stress that you could not even imagine. While I think the adage of do unto others as you have them do unto you should always be true I also think we should be mindful that no of us knows what burdens other carry and we should never increase someone’s burden.
Especially now we should work towards being extra nice. Give a smile when you can. I have often had my mood lifted by someone I did not know smiling at me. As an introvert, I have had to work on doing this myself since my original instinct was to keep my head down and never make eye contact. But since I have started carrying my head up more often I have more nice interactions with people. And I never know if my smile made their day but I know that I feel better for having done it.