Warning: Adult Language
“I can’t even.”
This phrase is often uttered after being the recipient of bad behavior or witnessing someone doing something so stupid that it merits this kind of disgusted aphorism. Bad behavior—and the elaborate dismissal of it—has become a dominant force in our current culture.
How often have you thought to yourself, “How hard is it to send a text?” How often have you been guilty of vomiting emotions that would probably be more effectively expressed one on one instead of a lengthy text? Or have you let the subtle yet unintelligible emotion of embarrassment turn into a limp justification for ghosting someone? These and other behaviors are adolescent at best, indications of major character defects and reflect a lack of willingness to take emotional responsibility.
This being said, setting healthy boundaries is an art form.
Anyone can wall off their emotions and create the illusion of being powerful or unaffected by the opinions of others. The majority of bad and disrespectful behaviors are rooted in perpetuating the need to feel special.
The exterior does not match the interior in that people play games to prove something that doesn’t need proving if they just knew this one thing—we are all in this together.
The point is the older generation is supposed to teach the newer generation how to be decent human beings. And we are missing one major lesson—learning to let go.
Sometimes this is easier said than done, especially when egos get bruised. And on a more personal level, my ego just got the shit kicked out of it.
Sometimes the same person who sets a boundary is the same person who blurs it. When this happens, a power-struggle ensues. That is exactly what happened to me when in one breath I was told I was amazing and in the next breath I was sternly reminded by my supposed friend that he wanted a romantic relationship but just not with me…which was fine to state the first time he did. But, then, a few weeks later, he called me and followed up with an insulting PSA, “We are not dating,” after seeing one of my Instagram posts talking about what I wanted in a man. I had moved on but apparently his ego had not.
Um, I get it, okay?
The whole thing ended in a text that can be best summed up in the phrase: “Bye Felicia!” And my ego has been engaged in imaginary conversations ever since.
So, by sharing this, I am demonstrating one of the first, yet tried and true signs of not letting go—passive aggressiveness, which is often followed up by manipulation and finally bailing.
A huge part of being able to let go is knowing what to let go of. And since there isn’t a rule book, let these three steps stand as the definitive guide.
The list of disrespectful vs. respectful behaviors:
1. Passive aggressive: “Did you notice that I blocked you on Facebook?” vs. Radical Honesty: Is it true, necessary, and kind?
Passive aggressive behavior is the opposite of being able to own your shit. When we are passive-aggressive, we are coming from an ego-centered place that tries to make sure everyone one knows how special we are for being offended, but no one gets to know why. The world of social media has become the platform for passive aggressive communication with blocks, likes, dislikes, side-comments, friending an ex’s friends, Facebook stalking, and going as far as cyber-bullying.
The opposite of this behavior is simple in that it involves telling the truth to a person over the phone or one-on-one. It is about being able to recognize an emotion but not esteem that emotion as better or worse than any other feeling—especially someone else’s feelings or experience. Let all judgements go.
The delineating line between disrespect and respect is having the skill to clearly and courageously communicate our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a way that creates genuine connection. This is a skill that is acquired over a lifetime as we mature.
Being the recipient of passive-aggressive behavior is one of the greatest ways to learn how to be radically honest because although the ego wants to inflict the same pain and pride wants to win, the heart knows better and seeks the connection that comes from passing thoughts and words through the three gates—is it true, necessary, and kind?
2. Manipulation: “Babe you are the reason I am happy.” vs. Integrity: Words and actions align.
There are three types of people who show up in our lives: the mirrors, the mentors and the magicians. Manipulators can seem like all three. Manipulation is a form of seduction in that it plays to people’s desires, insecurities and beguiles people into trading their power for a false promise. Manipulators are powerful in that they can make us feel that their issues are our problem to fix, therefore representing themselves as mirrors.
Most people who manipulate do so because it creates a false sense of power and it can position them as mentors or experts that require adoration for nothing more than their presence. Conversely, there are plenty of people who believe themselves to be victims and these are the true magicians of the crowd in that they exert their deception through the subtle acquisition of sympathy. We, who have allowed ourselves to be manipulated, know these types as players, gamers, playboys, gold-diggers and giant pains in the heart!
Of course, there is a remedy—let it go.
We say things we don’t mean. It is called flirtation. But, when the rubber hits the road, things move forward and they don’t stall out. If someone is a person of integrity they will wait to get into bed with you. They will remember that you are not perfect and not shame you for it. They will stand by you and for you. They will make an effort but make it feel effortless.
And the reason this person can do all of this is because they know themselves. They have done the hard work of wrestling with their ego. They have faced their shadow time and time again. They are courageous, mindful and brave. Moreover, you will like who you are around them because they will not only make you want to be a better person, they will require that you own your own shit for the sustainability of the relationship.
3. Flake and Bail: “How hard is it to send a text? Honestly?!” vs. Show up: “I’m here. I love you. I’m here.”
There are, like, 1,000 ways to get a hold of a person and only one way to actually connect with him or her—honest communication. So, why is it so hard to make a connection? It’s because there are, like, 1,000 or more options at any time, which creates FOMO (fear of missing out) or a YOLO (you only live once) response that results in flaking out.
Don’t hold your breath—exhale and let it go.
Things happen. But nothing just happens. Decisions predicate outcomes. I decide who and how I want to be. I decide how I want to be treated. I set the standards of which I live my life by. I keep my eye on the prize. I champion my inner child so she knows she will never be abandoned.
And the fact is, no one else is going to do it for you. No one will treat you with respect until you grow into a place where you can command respect rather than demand it. No one—not your mama, your papa, your family, your friends, your boss, your lover, your husband, your wife, your dog, your cat, or the god in which you give your life to—is going to give you more respect than you give yourself when you take the reins of your own life.
The lesson is simple and constant—love yourself by letting go.
All disrespectful behavior comes from the journey we all take to grow into our worth. We cannot know the mountain top when our mind is in the valley. We cannot allow light in our lives if we remain comfortable in darkness. We cannot realize our unique life purpose if getting ahead means not leaving the past behind.
You may not get the last word in but you can have the next word. There is no thought or deed more enlightened than letting go and moving forward. Forgive what has offended you. Let go. Forgive the unjust and the unfair for we are all these things. Let go. And come back into this moment. Arrive into the here and now. This is where your power lies. This is the seat of creation.
Know yourself. Act right. And then let it all go.
Seriously, the fight’s not worth it. Let that shit go!
Author: Rebekah McClaskey
Editor: Travis May; Catherine Monkman