When my partner tells me about something annoying I’m doing, I get right on board with him.
Ugh. That bitch. Imagine if you had to have her around all the time!
Parts of me are annoying. No one knows that better than me.
I don’t think being annoying is any kind of indictment. It’s simply my humanity. Just an infuriating part of who I am. I love it and I love to hate it.
There’s no risk to me joining him in his irritation toward me. I regard it as welcome company for the part of me that’s irritated with me. We get to rage for a minute and end in laughter.
I do this with friends and clients as well.
This practice is incredibly valuable as a tool of discernment in relationship. If I join someone in their irritation and they escalate their attack, I know that they’re interested in impacting me, punishing me, hurting me in vengeance. It’s a simple, low-stakes way to see whether they’re prepared to respect that I am a flawed and limited human. It helps me see who to keep out of my life.
Those who are prepared to respect me are soothed when their feelings and experience are validated. They’re not interested in seeing me hurt, they’re interested in being witnessed in their own discomfort, being heard and understood about what is and is not comfortable and ok with them.
If I argue against someone’s experience of me, they defend themselves, whether they’re a person prepared to respect me or not. Through their need to defend themselves, I’m likely to experience hurt. Arguing with their experience of me is an act of disrespect I commit against them. This muddies the waters between who is and who is not prepared to maintain a respectful relationship with me, because I am initiating disrespect into the relationship, I am violating the standard of respect.
Someone else’s experience of me is not personal. It’s mostly about them and their prior experiences and associations.
How they treat me based on their experience of me is what’s material to the relationship. Or to the need to end the relationship.
I’m only interested in sharing my life, my precious time, energy, and attention, with people who are prepared to respect me throughout the spectrum of their experience of me. (And I am responsible to hold myself to a standard of respectful practices and respectability.)
There is no experience someone can have of me that gives them justification to inflict pain or punishment on me. If their experience of me is so horrific that they can’t manage to respect me, I would hope for them to end the relationship and care for themselves.
If they don’t, I will.