You know when people are doing something that is especially obnoxious? When people are rude, or arrogant, or dismissive, or condescending to you, or whatever it is that they do that feels crappy and is especially rankling for you. Whatever it is, you know that feeling?

I do. I’ve got loads of judgments about the correct way to show up, and most of these people aren’t following my rules. Which is as perplexing as it is annoying. Why wouldn’t you follow /my/ rules for right living? If you would just do things the way I do things, then it would all work out and we’d all be awesome.

Anyhow, I’m clear that’s a myth, but there’s still a part of me that feels that way.

Most of the annoying things people do tend to be a function of my and their survival mechanisms. That’s the set of patterns we learned and put together that allowed us to survive and get by when we were younger, and that have now become automatic.

Someone that was naturally joyful might have learned to turn their joy up to eleven as a way of escaping their fears about sadness and anger. Someone that was naturally brilliant might have learned to condescend as a way of escaping their fears about being a dumby. (That’s not actually how you spell that word, but it’s fun to pronounce it “dum-by”, so there you go).

When people get confronted, they fall into these patterns (pretty much unconsciously and automatically), and the impact of the pattern tends to fall on whoever is around them.

You do this as well, just like I do this, just like everyone else does this.

Here’s what I’ve noticed about people’s behaviour along these lines: they’re actively taking their own medicine.

What I mean is that whatever someone is doing externally, they’re doing ten-fold internally.

That person that leaves you feeling dismissed? That’s a constant experience for them internally. They’re constantly dismissing themselves, talking down to themselves, and deciding they’re irrelevant. And, they’re almost certainly constantly left feeling dismissed by other people.

The person that seems to talk at length and leave you feeling irrelevant and like there’s no space for you in the conversation? That’s the experience they’re constantly living in, when it comes to their own life. Feeling irrelevant, talked over, and left out of the conversation.

Whatever the particular experience you’re left with when you’re around someone, that’s largely the experience they /live/ with.

Knowing this won’t cause them to show up any differently, and it probably won’t make it any less obnoxious when you’re the one bearing the brunt of someone else’s tendencies.

But it might allow for a little more compassion, knowing that, while you have to deal with this tendency right now, they have to live with it constantly.

And if we can bring a little more compassion to someone, it can help them get off of the confrontation they might be feeling. And that, goes a long way to having them drop out of the safety of their survival mechanism and back into their innate, natural self.