Today, I was driving and stopped at a red traffic light. A car full of people pulls up next to me and a dude in the passenger seat waves at me, glaring. I, having lived on this earth for quite some time, know that he just probably wanted attention so that he could entertain his friends. Plus, the off-putting glare mixed with the hand waving was pretty contradictory/confusing. So, I simply looked away and rolled my eyes. The light was taking a while to turn green and I glanced over again. This time, he was flipping me off. Great, thanks dude. Although I did come home and tell me husband about it and how outrageous I thought it was, it didn’t actually upset me on the inside. However, a couple of years ago, the behavior exhibited by this dude would have really upset me. I probably would have been asking myself “what did I do wrong?”, “why did I deserve that?”, and “is that what most strangers really think of me?” I would have felt like I was being very negatively judged by this stranger and would keep examining myself in the hopes of figuring out why that happened.
The message here is to never automatically assume that another person’s actions or words are truly about you. The act of actually taking something like that personally is a form of selfishness. While it doesn’t actually feel selfish, it is, simply because you are only thinking about yourself in relation to another’s words or actions. I would guess that the dude flipped me off because he was bored and wanted a reaction out of me.
Long story short: realize that most peoples’ reactions are mostly a reflection of themselves, not always the result of anything you have said or done.