Deb Sofield

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Walking Away

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“When faced with senseless drama, spiteful criticisms and misguided opinions, walking away is the best way to stand up for yourself. To respond with anger is an endorsement of their attitude.” ~ Dodinsky

How many times have you thought about walking away from the drama, the words and the noise but you stayed to play one more round, hoping it would not be as bad as you thought.

No doubt, it ended up being pretty awful. And the worst part is you knew it would end up poorly, but you just had to speak your mind one more time, or perhaps you even lost it and threatened with the raising of a fist or, at the very least, with squealing the tires and gunning the gas as you drove away from the drama.

What did you expect? Did you think you could reason with an unreasonable person? Did you think you could make it right, or at least tolerable, if you just talked it out? Or did you think you could control them in some small way, only to be harshly reminded that they will not listen to you or your wise counsel. Why? It’s simple, because they choose not to.

When this attitude happens, it is hard not to become angry, frustrated or feel used…again. So the advice that no one likes to take is to walk away. Because if you don’t walk away before you become angry, they will win the fight, the war and the battle, and you’ll be kicking yourself for miles down the road knowing you’ve been set up and knocked down again.

Honestly, I don’t know why it is so hard to walk away, whether it is from a bad relationship or an impossible friend or your incorrigible child. There is just something in most of us that hates the idea of losing or leaving the fight, stopping the argument or walking away from it all. If you have a bit of wisdom in you at all, you know the wisest thing you can do is not to say anything because, as the old saying goes, silence can never be misquoted and walking away takes you from the danger of it all.

Recently I have been struck by the towering levels of drama, criticisms and misguided opinions that seem to be in every conversation, no matter the topic, the place or time. Social media has somehow set up a false sense of security where many people spew their vindictive words without thinking through the recourse that everything they say can and will most likely come back to bite them…hard. And I don’t just hear it on social media–it’s on TV and radio, and politicos and pundits on every side of the aisle are arguing away. Anger, drama, misguided opinions are everywhere and they are loud.

Since snarky comments and anger are present in most every aspect of your life, you might want to consider some way on how to untangle yourself from the drama. One way is by learning to unfold the fire escape, i.e. leave the scene without them noticing or consider picking up the pace of your running out the door, away from the verbal flames that will lick at your feet and burn you to a crisp.

When I think about the option of “walking away is the best way to stand up for yourself,” that thought has so much level-headed truth in it that it’s hard to absorb or believe or actually do. It is a rare person, indeed, who has the power and keen sense of self to walk away and not fight physically or verbally (or online).

I must admit that it is a great reminder for those of us who, at times, think about actually knocking out someone physically or verbally (just one time). The idea of walking away seems so weak, when in reality it might be the strongest thing you ever do.

Another aspect of the power of this quote is the line that says, “To respond with anger is an endorsement of their attitude.”

I never thought about it that way. Most of us would never endorse a silly argument that would exacerbate the drama that is already bubbling over and causing grief. Yet, if we don’t take the action to walk away, we will be drawn into the flame and, undoubtedly, we’ll be burned.

My overall thought for this newsletter is a simple reminder that you and I do not need to feed the flame of other people’s drama, or their spiteful words or silly nonsensical opinions that they dwell on, chatter about and mull over and over and make part of their daily life to add some excitement to their sad existence. That is not our job–to be their firewood–when in reality most of us would like to be the fire extinguisher to help them find peace.

I’ve written before about the stickiness of other people’s drama and how our best solution to avoid the mess is not to walk near the flame. But every day we read about the drama on the front page of the paper or the timeline of most Facebook posts or hear it in the bedroom of your child or spouse.

More people than we care to acknowledge seem to thrive on the fiery smoke of self-importance, self-opinion and self-aggrandizement. These people seek others like themselves to strike up the flames of arguments, lies and backbiting, so consider this: If you don’t hang around for them to attack you, there won’t be any wood for their fire of viciousness, and without wood even a blazing fire eventually dies out.

I used to be someone who wanted to “fix others.” I thought I had some great ideas and suggestions that I knew would be life-changing for them, then, after being burned a few times, I learned a hot but valuable lesson that I have never forgotten–I can never “fix” someone else.

To this day I wonder what took me so long to figure that out. Once it occurred to me that I was not Ms. Fix It and that I needed to make a head- and heart-minded decision to peacefully, quietly and quickly walk away, there was no going back. Not because I didn’t care, but because they didn’t…and no one can fix that.

There is a quote that I have seen many times that says, “There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.” – Jose N. Harris

As far as I am concerned, that sums it up when it comes to dealing with those who thrive on senseless drama, spiteful criticisms and misguided opinions. It doesn’t mean I can’t love from afar, in fact, that might be the only way I can show a bit of tenderness and concern, since I won’t be near the life-clogging smoke and blazing heat of their emotional fire.

I’ve heard it said that sometimes you just have to remove people without warning–we’re getting too old to be explaining what they already know they’re doing wrong.

So, friends, please heed my words today, when faced with senseless drama, spiteful criticisms and misguided opinions, walking away is the best way to stand up for yourself.

In closing, remember this, sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our value and worth, but because we finally realize our own.

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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