Everyone wants to be heard; to know that their opinion matters, that THEY matter. But there is a difference between being “heard” (i.e. “understood”) vs. winning people over to agree with your opinion. It’s when people get these two concepts confused that problems arise.
Most of us learn at a very early age that we can’t always get our way, or at least we can’t always get what we want, when we want it or in the exact manner we want it. That’s what the so-called “Terrible Twos” is all about. The reason that you don’t hear about the Terrible Five’s, Ten’s, or Thirty’s, is because the majority of us figure out how to balance our personal needs and desires, with the needs and desires of our parents, siblings, neighbors, countrymen, and the world. It’s that simple but vital skill of Give-and-Take that distinguishes civilization from barbarism. It’s learning to play well with others.
Unfortunately, not everyone successfully learns the lessons necessary to progress past the stage where a toddler suddenly is faced with the fact that they are not the center of the world, and so these Eternal Toddlers [“ET’s”] continue to believe that everyone outside of themselves exists solely to satisfy their needs and desires. When confronted by the reality that they cannot make everyone snap to attention at their every beck and call, the ET ends up feeling constantly thwarted, oppressed, unappreciated, disrespected, and even abandoned. In turn, those feelings lead to intense, never-ending anger at those the ET perceives have come between them and their desires that they ultimately deal with by turning that anger back on others (in the form of adult temper tantrums or worse) and/or on themselves (i.e. self-loathing, severe depression, suicide). This is hardly a satisfying strategy to procure either the respect of others or a realistic sense of self-worth for the ET. As obvious as that equation may seem, ET’s rarely appear capable of recognizing the folly of that mindset or recalibrating their expectations and methods of communication that’s needed to escape the viscious circle they’re trapped in.
It is easy to fall into the trap of judging an ET – especially when you’re caught within the scope of an ET’s rage or continually compelled to witness the dark, disheartening world of an ET who has turned their rage inward. The inclination to yell “Snap out of it”, “Get Real”, “Grow-Up”, or “#!!?@!&!!! You!”, is understandable yet it’s foolish and counter-productive to give into your frustration that way, and can even be putting yourself at risk of great danger. So what can you do when your life crosses with an ET that won’t set you up as their Eternal Victim [“EV”]? The easy answer is to walk away and fuggetaboudit. But that’s not always possible, especially if you have conflicting feelings such as actually liking the person or even loving them, or if you’re stuck with having to deal with them for professional or other reasons. It’s heartbreaking to watch otherwise intelligent, decent people self-destruct and fearsome when an ET has the attitude of “Take No Prisoners”.
Lamentably, we are powerless to make the necessary changes for them. All we can do is try to be patient, to listen, to maintain our self-composure and dignity, to always maintain our self-respect, try to protect ourselves the best that we can, and then pray. Pray for a miracle that forces the ET take stock of themself, gather the strength to face the truth and seek help to turn their life around. Keep reminding yourself you did nothing wrong to deserve the ET’s venom. Forgive the ET, who is undoubtedly hurting even more than you, but don’t forget to take cover. And most important of all, constantly remind yourself that you can survive anything as long as you stick to the truth, never act with malice, and never stop having faith that somehow, somewhere, some time, you’ll finally be free.
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