A rant of sorts…
Have you ever been wrongly accused? I’m sure you have and I don’t have to tell you it’s emotionally crushing to be on the receiving end, to know that people who should know you better, people who claim to care about you, are so quick to think the worst of you.
Being wrongly accused has been a running theme in my life, especially for the last few months or so: A dear friend accusing me of all sorts of truly bizarre actions and motives. Another I considered a good friend silently doing the same and disappearing. My boss repeatedly accusing me of inflating my time sheet. Chickenbone accusing me of saying something mean on Facebook about my nephew.
Each and every accusation couldn’t have been more off base, and so completely unlike the person I am. And it hurt each time.
I’m not sharing this to gain sympathy or pity, but to show what the effects have been, and how it has changed me for the better.
As I pondered this running theme, I was surprised when I realized how often this has happened since I was a child.
- There are a couple significantly memorable events from my childhood when my parents accused me of something I did not do. I’m not blaming them, no parent does it perfectly.
- When I was a teenager growing up in a middle-class suburban neighborhood, the older teenage and twenty-something guys, some “friends”, often told the other guys they had slept with me, some even going so far as to make up details about the parts of my body that no one saw.
- I remember trying to convince one male friend and neighbor that what he’d heard about me wasn’t true, that I’d never even expressed an interest in these guys, let alone made out with any of them. He looked at me dubiously. To this day I doubt he realizes it was all bullshit.
- A crazy reader left a vile comment on my blog accusing me of “turning tricks” because, during a night of insomnia, I posted to Facebook about all of the “pokes” I was getting, clearly referring to Facebook pokes. Either this guy was new to Facebook or none too bright. He obviously no idea that a “poke” in Facebook is a virtual ping equivalent to someone poking you in the arm with their finger, much like siblings in the back seat of a car on a long drive.
- I don’t even steal paperclips from the office where my boss has repeatedly accused me of lying on my time sheet. After the most recent episode, I said I hoped there would be more trust between an employer and employee. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? It fell on deaf ears.
- Chickenbone is often quick to think the worst of me, her own sister. We haven’t spoken in months due to her negativity and judgements.
After realizing how long this has been going on in my life, and how only now I noticed the longevity of this theme of judgement and wrongful accusation, I wondered about the long-term effect this has had on my thoughts, self-talk and self-image. I have no doubt these events shaped, for better or worse, who I am today.
What has regularly being wrongly accused done to my self-thinking, my self-image? A lifetime of wrongful accusations have left me feeling as if I’m constantly guilty of something. When the accusations and judgement are from people you care about, it does a number on your self-esteem.
Please watch this short (5 minute) video, “Don’t judge others too quickly”, by Ameriquest. It’s funny, but makes you think. (Much thanks and appreciation to reader Greg V for sharing it!)
But this has also made me a very empathic and honest person. My goal has always been to understand the thinking behind someone’s actions, to empathize and motivate them in positive ways. I’m honest to a fault because I never want to put myself in the position of being accused of something.
People have my trust until they break it, but even then I’m generally quick to ask for clarification before accusing. If someone says or does something I don’t understand or that sounds cruel, I ask for clarification or the reasoning behind it. Mostly, I don’t believe people are so bad to immediately assume their action or thought is a malicious one. Maybe I’m more naive than I realize, but I’d rather think people are trustworthy, until they’re not.
(Too many) Years of personal growth courses, coaching, self-help books, and self-reflection help me understand something about people who are negative, judgmental, and quick to think the worst: They don’t like themselves.
When I remember that, I can have great compassion for them. After I get over feeling hurt, and remove myself from the unhealthy situation/person, I can see how for someone to think that way, to feel like that toward another human being, they must have some pretty unhappy and negative thoughts running around in their head in the first place.
By no means am I perfect, I make mistakes. I know what it’s like not to think very highly of yourself, to have doubts, to judge others so you don’t have to look too closely at yourself and your own actions. I’ve been there, and occasionally I still go there. The difference is I now know when it happens because it doesn’t feel good. That’s when I know it’s time to look within. I’m not perfect, but I am teachable.
And so are we all.