Have you ever met one of those people that by no one thing specifically, but with a general broad stroke bring you down, make you feel inferior or small? Maybe they shoot down your ideas, or present an alternative to your idea in such a way that instead of helping just makes you feel stupid? Maybe it’s their sarcasm or the blank stare as you speak to them that makes you feel incredibly judged or that what your saying is irrelevant.
How is it that some people have this kind of influence on us? How is it that as confident and secure people we can be impacted so negatively by these occasional (hopefully) interactions? Even more concerning is this; why is it that these are always the people we try the hardest to impress?
With varying degree, we are all seeking approval. We need people to agree with us to validate our choices, decisions or opinions. The worlds a scary place and we need some endorsements now and then to make sure we’re doing ok (no one is completely immune to this). On some level, when we seek approval, what we are actually doing is asking for permission to think, feel or do things a certain way.
Usually that encouragement/permission comes from those within our own tribe, who are people that share our way of thinking or have similar values and maybe even similar goals.
We can accept that there will be some that don’t see eye to eye with us. But it’s easy(ier) to defend your choices to someone “on the outside” of your tribe because push come to shove, you can agree to disagree. Your perspectives may be so different that arguing may just be moot, or perhaps entertaining at the very least.
But what do you do when someone on the “inside” of your tribe makes you feel like an idiot? Our tribes should be a circle of influence, but what do we do when that influence turns into intimidation?
You have to find your voice. Your voice is what’s inside you speaking on behalf of your internal compass. It’s your core. It’s what’s important to you and what you value most. It's the piece of you that still believes you are valid without someone else's approval. You are legitimate without having someone else's authorization. Your voice will remind you of how capable and deserving you are. Find it. Hold onto it.
People that walk around with negativity, judgment and use intimidation to control others have their own problems and impressing them isn’t worth the trouble or the stress it will cause you. Plus, changing your opinion or making choices only to please them will only make them look down on your further and their (negative) influence on you stronger.
I call these people the darkness.
I am convinced that I have a light to shine (as does everyone), something to say and something to share and I sometimes struggle with how to go about doing it. The last thing I need/want in my life is darkness taking over. No one needs that, or deserves that.
So I’ve learned to (and sometimes it’s worth re-learning) to recognize and then shut out the darkness when it shows up. Whether this person is within your tribe / circle of influence or not, if they are not adding value to your life, they are taking value away from it.
Find your voice. Ditch the darkness.