Recently I've read a few posts - on Facebook, on twitter, on blogs - that made me upset.  What upset me was the mixture of content (do you really want to be posting that in a relatively public forum?) and the level of personal involvement the poster has with something that is, well, in the grand scheme of things, unimportant.

Here's an example: the personal goal setter.  If you're setting the goal of finally conquering your addiction to drugs or alcohol, I'm there for you in whatever way I can be - and if you slip, I'll be there to help you back up.  If the goal you've set is that this is the year you'll win the Nobel Prize in  [your field], I'll be happy if you win but be skeptical that you'll actually manage to hit your goal... what will worry me more is that you tie your self-worth into getting the prize.  Most goals are somewhere in the middle, but my worry is still the same: if you don't lose the weight/get out of debt/make VP or partner/run a marathon/etc, will you assume that 1. you're a failure and 2. that I think you're a failure? Because my feelings for you aren't so conditional - if there are good feelings now, there will be good feelings later.  Beating yourself up over not making the goal hurts me as much as it hurts you.

Another example: the overly sensitive type.  This is the type of person who take offense when none is there, who holds onto hurt or implied insults far beyond what seems to be healthy.  The fact that the PATH train is late is not The Man out to get you.  Yes, it's rude that that woman with 20 items in her cart is in the 12 Items Or Less lane, but it's not the end of the world.  That really popular person in high school or the BMOC in college isn't going to suddenly want to be your BFF because you've had a letter to the editor printed in the paper (they've forgotten you - do likewise).  Someone abusing a hashtag on twitter doesn't need a tweet tirade correcting them.  In other words (and again, it's a matter of health) Let It Go.

Final example: the didact.  Let's face it, we don't always agree on things - politics, religion, which book should win the Printz (ok, maybe there's more agreement on that than the others), how many supplements you should take to stay healthy.  Insisting that your source of news (NPR, Fox, God, smoke signals from the neighboring village) is The Best, that You Know What's Right/True (even if there's evidence that you don't have the whole story) and castigating those who don't agree is just unhealthy.  Who can carry around that heavy a load of self-righteousness and anger against those who don't "get it"?  It's not healthy for you, it's not healthy for your relationships.

The past few days, reading some of these... I've started to get sucked in.  "OH NOES!  A failed goal/idiotic political comment/hashtag abuser/etc"  My blood pressure rises, I feel the other person's anger and pain... and that's not good for either of us, it's a feedback loop that just enhances the issue.To preserve my own health, I'm divesting myself of these people.  It may mean not reading a blog post (or ten... or all).  It may mean blocking them on my FB News Feed.  It may mean dropping their twitter feed.

I don't love or like you less, I just love our mental health more.  Here's to a happier, less stressed, emotionally lighter end of the year and 2013.

1 comment:

Aravis said...

There was a time when I would have felt like a failure for not achieving my academic goals. To be honest, it's something I'm still working on. But I have greatly improved in this area, so that's a plus.

It's easy to get sucked into these things. Once or twice lately I've tried to engage in discussion regarding recent happenings, but I'm summarily insulted by the friend/friend's friend, or ignored altogether. There are some friends whose posts I quickly skim, and skip altogether when I know it's useless to try. These are people I keep around more because of longevity of our relationship than any actual friendship in the present. I'm trying to let a couple of them go, because you have the right idea.