Yesterday, my coworker snapped at me. I was leaving a voice mail for my boss and my colleagues were sitting at the meeting table just outside my cubicle. I heard a silence – and worriedly thought they were listening to my message and how dumb I mu. After I hung up I called out “were you guys listening to me?” My coworker responded with “WHOA, WHOA – you really think everything is about you. PLANET STEF. WHOA.” I felt immediately stupid and small. I replied as nonchalantly as I could, “You just noticed?”
With this particular coworker I feel she interprets my worrying as self-centered. Of course, worrying is in its very nature is self-centered. I think she mistakes the motive of the worrying though – that I don’t think it is “all about me” I am actually genuinely worried and often compulsively so, to the point I find it difficult to stop from voicing baseless and irrational worries.
Following this interaction, as often happens when I’m snapped at a bit hurt and angry. Then I had a thought and it was really one of the first times I’ve had this thought. Kind of like a “snapping happens” thought. Every time I get snapped at in this office or in the outside world, my brain automatically goes through a stunned, shock process. Every time it happens I can’t believe it’s happened. I go through the same emotions of disbelief, feelings of unfairness (“I did not deserve that”), hurt and anger.
What I realized is that maybe it’s not about being tougher and weathering people’s criticism. Maybe it’s about realizing that nobody likes being snapped at. But, it’s going to keep happening – to everybody. It doesn’t say anything bad about me, that I somehow caused this person to snap at me.
In the compassion workshop I attended we talked a lot about “common humanity” which is something people with depression struggle to deal with. When we are depressed we simply believe we are the only ones experiencing this level of pain and that creates a huge isolation. In fact, everyone feels pain – it’s just hard to see that when you are depressed. Similarly being snapped at is an isolating experience if you feel like you’re the only one it happens to.
My takeaway today is: snapping happens!
Photo by Rupert Affen. Available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/35524855@N00/2465116059/