A record snowfall in Prince George this week stranded drivers and shut down many services for a few days. Trying to get to work in blizzard conditions, I realized how difficult it is to feel empathy for someone who is blocking you.
“You’re not stupid you know.” “You could do well if you just applied yourself.” “Slow down and for goodness sake, stop talking!” I grew up hearing these statements, and variations of them, my whole life. I even have the report cards to prove it. I still hear these criticisms in my head when I make a careless mistake, but now I tell myself, “You’re not stupid you know, you just have ADHD.”
I observed an argument between two people last week and with little effort, I remained calm and objective. This week I was the one in a disagreement and it wasn’t so easy to stay calm and neutral. I found myself getting angry that the other person was angry.
When someone uses feeling words to describe judgments and assumptions, it may sound like they are talking about their feelings, but they are actually talking about their negative, and often exaggerated thoughts. As a result, we feel judged and often misunderstood. We get angry that they’re angry.