Friday, April 13, 2012

Sensitive Sally Must Die.

I'm kind of a baby.

I'm a baby because I get my feelings hurt pretty easily. You don't even have to say something mean about me, but if it's anything negative about something that I had any part in, I feel pretty lousy. It's kind of ridiculous.

It's just a lot easier to hear the nice things... even if I'm not super great at receiving those, either.

But, here's the thing...
I can't ever grow, I can't ever get better, I can't ever be challenged if I'm not willing to hear that there are areas in my life that need some refining. Unfortunately, instead of humbly taking constructive criticism, I often find myself quickly defensive. I have a justifiable reason for everything I do, and by golly, it's okay that in this one circumstance I gossiped, or lashed out, or withdrew, or put my needs above yours. Isn't it....?

I don't think I'm alone in my sensitivity issues, either.
I wonder how many of you respond to someone calling out the negative things in your life?

When Jesus calls out the Pharisees in Matthew 23, he says to them, 'You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel'. It's always one of those verses I gloss over quickly... but, think about it.

How often are we in this mode of trying to refine the smallest things in ourselves? We always have something that we need to work on, something that we need to get better in. We tear ourselves apart because we aren't perfect and so we keep straining to weed out every blemish on/in us. Meanwhile, we've swallowed a camel... and a lot of times we don't even know it.

We're prancing around, focused on making sure we've got all those little things taken care of, but everyone around us sees this giant mass inside of us that we're absolutely blind to. Everyone else sees that we're prideful, or selfish, or mean, or lazy, or joyless.

A few years ago we filled out anonymous peer evaluations at work. When the results were in, we sat down and were able to review our strongest things and our weakest things. Apparently the majority of the people I worked closely with thought I was a real bummer to be around, although none of them had ever wanted to actually talk to me about it. I literally had no idea that's how I was viewed, I had no idea that's the impression I was giving off. They didn't want to hurt my feelings and make it even more miserable to be around me. I get it.

I don't know about you guys, but instead of being Sensitive Sally about everything, I want to be a person who invites others to critique, to challenge, to hold me to a higher standard. I want people to feel like they have the freedom to call me out on the things that I may be blind to. I need people to tell when I'm walking around with a giant camel in me because I got so honed in on keeping out the gnat.

Lately, I've found that the best thing I can do is practice being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be come angry. When I listen to what someone has to say, I can better absorb what it is and try to view things from their perspective. When I listen, I must not be listening for the way I'm going to attack their point of view. After they've spoken, I need to be super slow to respond. I'm far too quick with my words and if they've just called out something negative in me, my immediate reaction is to retaliate. Sometimes this may mean that you need to pause the conversation and come back to it when you've had time to really process through what they've said. If I start to get defensive and angry about what they're saying, it helps if I follow the first two things. It helps if I recognize that they aren't out to get me, but they're helping me.

Extracting a camel from one's self is no easy task, but it's necessary.
Be willing to ask others in your life if there's anything they see in you that you've been blind to. Be willing to listen to their words and evaluate from their point of view. Invite people you love and trust in to challenge you.

Let your own Sensitive Sally die.
People might have things to say to you that you won't want to hear... things that might hurt your feelings.
But wouldn't you rather know it and learn from it than live your life with a giant camel in you and everyone around you being too afraid of hurting your feelings to tell you?

Get rid of the camel.
Let others help.
You'll thank them for it later. I promise.

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