Deb Sofield

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You can’t fix yourself by breaking someone else

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You can’t fix yourself by breaking someone else…

You often hear the phrase that life is precious and we need to be careful with our words, our actions and our attitude, and I wholeheartedly agree with that statement and believe it to be true.

We all need to follow the wisdom of those words, but what I find so disappointing in watching others is the bizarre attitude of some people who think that by tearing everyone else down they are building themselves up. Sorry, Charlie, it doesn’t work that way, because you can’t fix yourself by breaking someone else. It’s just not possible; in fact it’s more dangerous than you’ll ever know if you go down that road.

I know I am not speaking to the good folks who are reading this today, but many of you are the friends, acquaintances, partners or family members who are so bitter, angry, nasty and hateful that they waste their lifetime tearing down those around them in hopes of lifting their own status in life. I say to those who are so damaged, you don’t get far in life by standing on the broken bones of others, and, frankly, you just look stupid being that king of that hill.

If you are in a relationship where your friend, partner, family member or significant other spends time tearing at the fabric of your life, you need to walk away, because if you believe that life is precious then you need to learn to value your short life on this earth, and value yourself enough to block the negativity of those who heap anger on you and on others. They are damaged, and you can’t fix them nor should you try, when they have stooped so low to find their self worth in tearing you down.

Let me give you three reasons why having this negative attitude around you will do a lifetime of damage.

  1. If you allow someone to verbally pick at you, over time you will—believe it or not—begin to believe that what they say is truth.

Oh, today you know they’re a nut and you think it won’t bother you, but over time you will begin to question yourself when some issues arise and you can’t figure out what direction to go, when questions are asked and you don’t know an answer or when conversations are started and you have little to nothing to add. Their nagging, snarky comments that they snidely said to tear you down (to build themselves up) will start to seep into your subconscious, and then over time you’ll begin to believe the negative talk, because that is all you hear.

You have to guard your heart, you mind and soul against the hurtful words that others use against you, because they are not true and are meant to tear you and others down to build the other person up in your eyes and in theirs, which is a slippery slope, since in the end everyone is damaged.

It’s at that point that I hurt for you and everyone I see this happen to, whether in business or speaking or politics. Since you never started out with the current thought of your now-perceived limited ability, you’ve been lied to so much that now you believe it. The constant tearing down has now become the norm, so you don’t hear it as anything unusual, but, friend, this tearing down is killing your spirit slowly, until one day you are an empty shell of the vibrant, loving, kind person you used to be.

I see this most with married couples where one of them thought they could love or push or force the other enough to grow them to maturity, but that didn’t work, and over time they’ve grown hollow in their lives. Due to perceived social norms of their fancy neighborhoods, they live as lonely people—certainly not what they had planned when they started out, but here they are years later wondering if being single would be as painful as being together.

This happens slowly, and then over time it’s hard to remember when this verbal abuse didn’t occur. Yes, I call it verbal abuse, because no one should have to listen to another be so unkind as to cause wounds that do not heal over time, being constantly kept raw…and hurting.

Like it or not, I am well known for saying, walk away if at all possible, and save yourself, and, if for some unknown reason, you choose to stay, then have the courage to force the conversation back to an equal setting where no words of unkindness are tolerated or allowed.

You’ve got to be strong in your resolve. Since it has become a habit, your opponent can change for a day or two, but not much more, and if you draw a line in the sand (so to speak) and allow them to cross it more than once, you’ve given in and lost the battle.

Ideally you should never allow your kids, your friends, your spouse, your boss and anyone else verbally pick at you, because the old saying is true: There’s always a little truth behind every, “Just kidding;” A little curiosity behind every, “Just wondering;” A little knowledge behind every, “I don’t know” and A little emotion behind every, “I don’t care.

Today is the day that you understand the truth that no one can fix themselves by breaking someone else. It’s not true today, nor has it ever been true—it’s a lie, a lie that does a lifetime of damage.

  1. Another reason why “You can’t fix yourself by breaking someone else” is so damaging is because, when you allow others to talk that way towards you, you’ve allowed their venom to affect those who you care about. Whether it is your kids or spouse or family or friends, if you accept the disrespect that they are showing, you have now involved others, and, friend, that is not right.

I don’t like to see it when someone rips into you, and I really hate to see it when they turn from you and smart-off to your spouse or kids or co-workers who have no dog in the fight, all because you didn’t shut them down when they crossed the line in being disrespectful towards you the first, second or third time. When you allowed them to buy into the false notion that they can fix themselves by breaking you and everyone around you, you did them a disservice, and now you have to do the extra hard work to protect those around you who they verbally tear down.

Since you allowed this rude, unkind, uncaring attitude to affect those you love, don’t you dare run away from your responsibility—do something about it, and the best thing you can do is to confront and demand a change of conversation or of attitude or actions. (And, remember, always take someone with you to be a witness; don’t do this alone.)

No one likes to be called out, and they will back it up and say you misunderstood them and they were just joking and how could you think they would be that way, but, remember, zebras don’t change their stripes and leopards don’t change their spots—their actions speak for themselves. So you keep calm and stand firm…then walk away.

I love the quote, How beautiful is it to stay silent, when someone expects you to be enraged, and I love the line, When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

I need for you to understand that, “You can’t fix yourself by breaking someone else.” Remember my 1st point, If you allow it, over time you will believe the lie; my 2nd point, If you don’t stand up, you will allow them to hurt others. And now my 3rd. point.

  1. When someone chooses to treat others with such disdain, you need to understand that they have lost a part of their heart.

Hurting people hurt people, and I’ve heard it said that manipulative people do not understand the concept of boundaries—they are relentless in their pursuit of what they want, and they have no regard for who gets hurt along the way.

Knowing this, you need to be on your guard to keep yourself and those you love safely away from them, because when someone thinks that by breaking others down they can lift themselves up, that is the most self-delusional, backward thinking that cannot be repaired without a higher power to show them their ways and change their lives.

You might ask me, “Well, how will I know who these people are, or who they become over time?” Believe it or not, it is simple… always listen to your heart, because even though it’s on your left side, your heart is always right, and you’ll just know it.

Remember, a healthy relationship doesn’t drag you down, it inspires you to be better, and anyone who does not do that for you or your friends and family should not have a place in your life…and I don’t care if they are family or friends or co-workers.

Hard words, I know, and I don’t mean to be so hard, but I need for you to understand that you have to protect yourself these days, and if you agree with me that life is precious, then the time to start is now.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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