Have a Person in Your Life Who Disses Your Good News? Here's a Note You Can Hand Them
You know those conversations where the person you're talking to is deeply unhappy. Conversations where if you mention that it's a sunny day, the person replies, "Well you can bet you're inhaling lots of pollution. I bet it's gonna be cloudy tomorrow." Conversations where the person is just hell bent on telling you all the reasons why their life sucks and yours does, too. Conversations where they're still angry about something that happened years ago and they're letting it drive all their decisions. Conversations like this:
Me: I'm so excited (and nervous) that I'm going to be moderating a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative
Person I'm Talking To: Must be nice to have your life, Ms. A-List Writer.
Me: Um, **hahaha** hey, I have to figure out what I'm gonna say...it's kinda stressful. At least you don't have to do that.
Person: Yeah, well, in the real world where I live, I don't get to jet set for my job.
I end up:
A. Listening to all the reasons their life (and the world) is awful.
B. Downplaying what I was happy about so they don't feel bad.
C. Being on the receiving end of more passive aggressive comments.
D. Getting angry
E. Wanting to tell them OK, I get it, your life sucks, everyone else is the reason your life sucks, now shut up about it and go away.
Yet, option E is clearly not the answer, so I did some thinking about this and here's what I've decided: Before having conversations with people I know are angry and bitter, I should write some version of the following and then hand it to them/text it/email it/pigeon carry it:
1. I'm sorry you feel stuck. Acting out and saying mean things to people who really do care about you isn't helping.
2. I know blaming everyone else for what's going wrong in your life probably makes you feel better temporarily, but before you know it, 10 years will pass and you'll still be blaming everyone else... and then what?
3. Just because you THINK nothing good is happening to you, that doesn't mean your life lacks worth.
4. Just because you think nothing good is happening to you, that doesn't mean you have the right to make other people--like me--feel bad for the good things happening to them. Do not be the crab in the barrel.
5. I'm not perfect and good things DO NOT happen to me all the time. I just choose not to write a lame listicle with a title like, 33 Shitty Things That Happened to Me Today, or 17 Reasons My Life Sucks Right Now (and Yours Should, Too).
6. It really does makes me happy to be happy for other people when they have good news to share, because WHY NOT? You should try it sometime because GUESS WHAT, it might make you feel better.
7. Go to therapy.
Seriously, I wonder what would happen if I really did this. I might print this out and keep it in my wallet for the next time. Cos you know there will be a next time...