What do you do when someone’s words crush you? How do you handle your hurt feelings caused by someone else? When we have disagreements, there is some form of one of us thinking, ‘I’m not enough’ or ‘you’re not enough’ and the other one believing it. Here is how to eliminate these difficult feelings with just one step.
A House Made of Sticks
Think of a house made of matchsticks. It may stand on its own but it can be flimsy and easily fall. If I believe that I’m not enough, my ‘house’ (self) is like that matchstick house, wobbly and unstable. If you tell me I’m not enough, it’s as if you are banging on my matchstick house causing it to fall to pieces. My house can’t be enough if I’m relying on you to make sure it is strong and stable by holding it up with your agreement, compliments and praise.
It gets even harder when I don’t believe I’m enough and you make a comment that I disagree with such as, Why did you make those cookies? I don’t really like them. My house will begin to collapse because I believe that I’m not enough. Whether or not you think I’m enough is not the issue. I already think I’m not enough and this will make my house begin to fall. I’ll make up a story and say to myself, Who am I to try something new? Why didn’t I just make what you like? I am so dumb! This causes trouble between us.
Finally, I can sabotage your comments even if they’re overtly nice. You say, You are so wonderful for making cookies for us! I’m going to love them! If I believe I’m not enough, I’ll counteract this praise by not believing what you say. I’ll criticize myself and apologize for my cookies before you’ve had a chance to even taste them. I’ll also show you disrespect by not believing what you say but what I believe. This causes even more trouble between us.
But let’s say I believe I am enough. You say something aggressive like, These are terrible! You always make such awful cookies! If I believe I’m enough, I won’t respond. There will be no drama. I’ll allow you to have your opinion. My house will stand because your comments won’t weaken my joints or collapse my roof. When I believe I am enough I won’t be threatened by our difference of opinion.
What is Your House Made Of?
There are multiple versions to the ‘I’m not’ enough’ or ‘You’re not enough’ game. To be ‘enough’ we have to fill in the gaps of the weak matchstick houses we’ve built and live in houses that are strong enough to withstand storms. It all gets down to what we believe about ourselves and what we believe about others. Will the winds of disagreement blow your house down? How about criticism or difficulty?
Are You Playing the Game?
What version of ‘I’m not enough’ or ‘You’re not enough’ are you playing? Here are some questions to help you to think about it.
What opinion of his do I disagree with?
Why does his opinion matter so much to me?
How much is this disagreement affecting our relationship? Is it worth it?
What story am I making up based on what I heard? Is he really saying that?
Here's The One Step
The next time you have a knot in your stomach as you feel your house collapsing, . . . stop. Tell yourself that you are enough and he is enough. Say it out loud if you have to. This will allow the other person to have their opinion without it destroying your house.
The truth is, . . . we are all enough.
Watch for my follow-up article on how we can build homes that won’t collapse when trouble comes our way.