Day 34 Who’s Better?

While reading this excellent blog: Putting Others Down to Feel Better about Ourselves. DAY 322, I was able to see how I do/did/have done this myself – putting others down to make myself look better – to myself – in my own mind. Really. Looking simplistically at every memory/example that came up, that’s all it ever really was about – making myself look better to myself – reinforcing a self-definition that I was “better than” someone else in some way.
But, “putting others down” isn’t nice. When you say it like that, most of us would consider it downright mean. That’s no way to act toward another. And, I always considered myself to be a nice person. Inevitably, questions came up within me: where did I learn this? How did it come to pass that it became OK in my mind, for me to criticize or belittle another, sometimes hiding cruelty within humor? I didn’t like the answers that came up, either.
What I realized is that I learned and started treating people like this at a young age. I hesitate to say that it was a sort of survival mechanism for me but, it “kinda” was… Growing up with lots of sibling – 7 brothers (5 older) and 4 sisters – there were rules. Fighting – physically fighting/hitting – was a no-no. Picking on younger siblings – yeah, that could get you in trouble, too. Suffice it to say there was a lot of discipline and lots of ways/ reasons we could get in trouble and get punished. But, as long as we didn’t get caught by our parents, I learned that sometimes a little passive aggressive verbal taunting or belittling could make someone else lose his cool and say or do something that would get him in trouble. Of course, this was a form of retaliation on my part – because someone had been mean to me or something – to simply make me “feel better” about myself and get some revenge-type of satisfaction.
It’s almost shocking to admit that I’ve been guilty of this type of behavior so many times. What’s even more shocking is realizing that just about everyone has done it at some point. Sadly, it’s not only accepted behavior in some circles – it’s expected and rewarded – as seen on TV a la Fox News et al – while oh so many don’t even realize what they’re doing – unfortunately it’s become an ingrainedbehavior, reinforced by its acceptance as normal.
When I first read the title of Anna’s blog: Putting Others Down to Feel Better about Ourselves, I immediately saw myself within those words and said – out loud – man, I’ve done that before. Then, after looking at this point and seeing the many different dimensions within which I have participated – at home ( as a child and as an adult – with siblings, kids and partners), at work, at school, at the mall, at the store, driving – it seems the list can go on endlessly – that I could almost pick any situation involving me and at least one other person, and there was probably an instance where I’ve done it – even if I didn’t say anything out loud, I’ve done it in my mind – to fulfill that ingrained competitive urge to see myself as “better than” someone/something – casting judgment, comparing, belittling-all because I wanted to feel better about myself at that moment.
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to see myself as ‘better than’ anyone else.
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to believe that it was possible to be ‘better than’ another.
Now, for any nitpicker that might read this and say it’s possible to be better AT something than another person is, OK, I’ll give you that – an individual can acquire skills that another doesn’t have that might make them better at performing a specific task. But, what I’m talking about is how we’ve made this “putting people down” personal – we attack the individual on a personal level .
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to say spiteful things to/about another, in order to make myself feel better about myself, instead of treating all others with dignity and respect within the principle of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to ever have treated another as inferior to me in any way – and for purposely using words to intimidate another to make myself look better to me in mymind, instead of being willing to walk in the shoes of the other person in every instance where I cast judgment.
I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to disguise mean-spirited remarks within humor, which basically is a technique to keep from taking responsibility for my words because, if confronted, I could say that it was just a joke, even though I had really meant it in the spiteful way it was said.
When and as I see myself falling into this pattern of putting another down, or getting ready to make some spiteful smart-ass remark, I stop, and I focus on my breath for a brief moment and shift my bodyslightly to make sure that I’ve grounded myself physically, then look at and choose my words within the principle of equality, treating others as I want to be treated. And if the situation is reversed and I’m on the receiving end of a “put down” or spiteful remark, I stop, and I breathe, and I remind myself that whatever another says about me is really their deal – I can take a look at their words and see if there’s anything I can take from the remark that will assist and support me but, I choose and control how I react
So, I commit myself to remain aware when a situation occurs that might have triggered this type of behavior in the past, and to choose my words in accordance with what is best for all.

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