There are various ways to perceive the picture above for this article. Some ways are that the smiling woman can be the cunning provocateur of what appears to be the man’s mean or angry reaction where she just took a low and insulting shot at him below the belt and is taking pleasure in his reaction, the man who appears mean or angry is just being a mean SOB and the woman is choosing not to show that it’s negatively affecting her, or the man on the right can be playfully joking with her and she appears to not mind his antic.
For the sake of this inspirational article, we will rule out the third option. If the man is joking, the intensity of his emotions appears confusing and over-the-top. Regarding the smiling woman, not everyone enjoys or is comfortable with being on the receiving end of what appears to be volatile joking that could be toxic or dysfunctional.
We get that some people may claim that they do not intend to offend, yet their behavior can come off negatively or mean. Some people may exhibit mean behavior toward others and say that they did not mean it while others may harmlessly say the wrong thing at the wrong time with no dishonest and ill intent. Some people may believe that if someone really loves or cares for you that they will not want to do anything that you would perceive as mean.
One may need to not only look at the actions of others and not buy into their claimed intent that they did not intend to do something when they did. Or, it is possible that someone can do something that is unintentionally offensive or that brought harm. There are a lot of factors that may come into play when deciding the true intent of others.
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Human relationships can be complicated sometimes. Things can get complicated when intent collides with actions and honesty, dishonesty, or self-honesty. The Golden rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ seems to be straightforward enough.
However, there seems to be cases when obeying this rule does more harm than good, especially when dealing with people who have no regard for the rule or for the well-being of other people. For civil people who believe in maintaining positive energy, this is where things can get complicated.
There are different perspectives on this issue. Some people believe that is it okay to be mean. Some people believe that you should respect only those who respect you and never tolerate disrespect because allowing people who are clearly uncivilized to treat you in such a manner signals a lack of self-love and self-respect. These views are a few extremes.
People on another extreme hold the opinion that kindness is always the answer. Of course, that clearly is not the case, because we have all met people who prey on kindness and take advantage of generosity.
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Yet, somehow, they also seem to make themselves the victim or swear by heaven and Earth that they cannot stand drama or mean people. Yet, through learned behavior, they subconsciously and blatantly dish out drama and being mean without thought becomes normalized behavior for them. We are not referring to people with chemical or hormonal imbalances in their brains or delving into aspects of abnormal psychology in this article.
While it may appear that the view that kindness is always the answer to respond to meanness from others may make sense, it is wise to consider that acts of meanness may not always be deliberate. To be human is to deal with a whole host of emotions and disturbances; the stress of survival in a world that seems to be indifferent, maintaining relationships, taking care of your body and health, and being a good man or woman, among other issues, plagues every human being, at every point in time.
(No, seriously, set yourself apart from mean folks and do your best to be good examples of kindness)
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So, it happens that sometimes, the appropriate response to meanness or disrespect is not reciprocation, but rather kindness, patience, and understanding. This view may apply so long as it does not compromise one's physical safety, mental well-being, standards for living, morals, and ethics.
Considering all these factors, what should one do? How can you tell whether a person displaying aggressiveness towards you or seeming angry at the world is acting with evil intent, or is suffering from conditions (especially hormonal conditions such as PMS or excessive testosterone, which can induce aggressive behavior and weaken self-control)?
How do you know whether you need to display empathy and forgiveness, or punish a person? The simple answer is, that there’s no way to know beforehand. The longer answer is, that it depends.
In this inspirational article, we wish to inspire your self-awareness and for you to reflect on and consider your emotional well-being when it comes to dealing with your potential to be mean toward others or those who may be mean to you. Anger is a powerful emotion; it arises when it appears that our autonomy is being threatened; it is a response to perceived injustice. It gets a bad rap in our society because of how destructive it can be, but that has less to do with the emotion itself and more with how well it is managed.
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Conflict is an inescapable part of life, and anger is how nature has equipped us to deal with conflict; the indignation we feel when angry is a reminder that we are individuals who need to be treated in a certain way if we’re to thrive. While one can be mean in their tone of voice without showing anger in their body language or be angry without being mean to others, there is no doubt that being mean to others can create bad relationships and bad relationships can create bad mental and physical health (Forbes, 2018).
Rather than demonizing anger, more attention should be given to learning how to temper it with kindness and respect and especially communicating effectively with others. Learning the art of self-control, and thus how to communicate and display assertiveness rather than aggression is something that can be best, because as much as there are people who just need to be patiently dealt with and understood, there are just as many who must be cut-off if you’re to have peace, and in more extreme cases, for self-preservation. It can be true that some folks are their own worst enemy and will see to it that they show and prove to you that they see and will treat you as an enemy as well – even when it’s genuinely unwarranted.
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So, how does one display assertiveness instead aggression? How does one check bad character while showing love to those who need it? And how do we give ourselves protection? Here are some tips:
1.Communicate & Set Clear Boundaries
A lot of conflicts can be avoided if boundaries are clear using effective communication. Communicating with people what you will and will not tolerate is a good way to siphon disrespectful people out of your life. People who continually insist on infringing on your boundaries are red flags and should either be avoided or have their access to you revoked. Anytime you sense that your boundaries are being crossed, ensure that you assertively inform the perpetrator with a calm, clear voice and make eye contact. These display confidence and self-assurance; most energy vampires happen to display what can be deemed as cowardice and once they encounter a person who is ready to defend themselves, they back down. However, believe it or not, there are some disrespectful and mean folks who feel entitled to be mean and disrespectful and may escalate their behavior to control or bully you. This is when you must repeatedly set, reinforce, and defend your boundaries without wavering or cutting them off with strong and clear messages and action. Doing this may help to build your confidence over time.
2.Maintain Positive Body Language
Body language is an important part of displaying assertiveness. Stand upright, don’t slouch your shoulders, at the same time, however, don’t be rigid; relax. Lean forward slightly towards whoever you are addressing, but not too close, so you don’t appear too threatening; allow them their personal space. Maintain a neutral or positive facial expression, you may be angry or passionate about your stance but are not trying to cause strife, only attempting to communicate your disagreement. We all may know some folks who speak with their hands, get too close for comfort, and can make you feel like they are one hand flail away from smacking you in the face. Aside from concerns about social distancing during this pandemic, be mindful of your manners and body language gestures when it comes to violating the physical space of others, as a huge part of assertiveness is maintaining your cool, being civil, and being respectful. You can practice maintaining a relaxed but firm body language in front of your mirror at home.
3.Meditation & Deep Breathing
This is an indirect way to learn to be more assertive, but that does not mean it is not effective. Practicing deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness meditation to precise gives you the ability to consciously disengage from your emotional reactions and pay attention to what is happening at the moment, allowing you more choice as opposed to just being reactive. It builds the ability to break away from habitual emotional responses and choose better responses at the moment. You can start a daily habit of just 10 minutes every day and build up from there. There are apps you can use, such as Headspace, to assist in building the habit.
While some people require love, there are malicious characters out there who may test your ability to stand up for and defend yourself, and in extreme cases, may want to do bodily harm to you. More than just allowing you to resist or defend yourself, learning self-defense unconsciously increases your confidence levels. The knowledge that you can handle the worst that can possibly happen during a conflict, allows you to relax and commit to fully defending your position or maintaining assertiveness. Beyond hand-to-hand self-defense, legally acquiring a weapon too, if your state allows it, can be a good move for your self-confidence and safety against imminent danger. That said, self-control is the watchword here. Do not cause trouble with others just because you feel like it or because you “just don’t like him or her”. You may be in for an unexpected and huge surprise to find out that the quiet woman or man who appears weak and non-threatening and doesn’t like confrontation can end up being the one to put the best mixed martial arts fighter to shame without the fame. And, they may have marksmanship skills that allow them to pick a speck of dust off a fence. Never underestimate anyone and keep in mind that it may not bring any pleasure to someone who is forced to send a strong and unmistakable message to someone that they can and will defend themselves and others if compelled to do so. Dangerous bullies can end up becoming regretful victims.
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The aim is never to cause conflict but to resolve differences with as much patience, understanding, and kindness as you can muster. Keep in mind that self-defense is legal in many states and you may feel like it is okay to open up and unleash 10 cans of “whoop a*s” with your self-defense skills or weapons but consider that you may also have a duty to mitigate any harm you’re forced to use or stand your ground, depending on the laws of the state you’re in.
Consider fleeing to safety and calling authorities or an ambulance for someone you had to (physically) defend yourself against. Ultimately, you may be legally responsible for the decisions you make regarding the use of self-defense.
Throughout life, we may be tried and tested by others who are mean to us. We have choices as to how we deal with this issue. We can limit our contact with them, walk away, or implement several measures to protect ourselves.
So, is it ever right to be mean? If mean here means to seek to cause malicious harm, (whether physical or emotional), dump on others to feel superior and make them feel inferior, or because one is feeling emotionally miserable and wants to make others emotionally miserable, then the answer is no.
It is not good, right, or okay to be mean. However, it is always right in some circumstances to assert and defend yourself and protect those you love, the vulnerable, elderly, and babies, and it is always right to seek to resolve differences, as long as the resolution is always the goal and not malice, antagonism, hostility, and meanness. If you find that it is difficult to control your anger or emotions, consider seeking and obtaining professional help such as counseling or therapy.
Being kind is a rare and admirable trait to live by and especially in a world where sometimes it seems like being mean is cool and condoned. Be remembered for being genuinely caring and kind to as many people as possible.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is not intended to be construed as legal advice.
Forbes (2018, May 03), Research shows bad relationships can also mean
bad health. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/05/03/research-shows-bad-relationships-can-also-mean-bad-health/#2d468131d5e1