09 August 2009

How we treat each other

My big fans
Some fans from the parade yesterday. Couldn't we all use a cheering section?

I've been thinking about the effects people have on each other lately. How different energies make us feel.

This line of thought was inspired by some of the coolest people on the internet: Jen Lemen, Tracey Clark, and Andrea Scher.

Even though I don't know these women well, I see their influence everywhere in the blog world. It is like ripples in a pond. The people who come closest to them become more creative, braver, more filled with life.

And then there are other people. The opposites. Those who suck your life energy, who drag you down, who leave the world a little darker each day. They aren't necessarily evil. In most cases, it just seems like they can't help themselves.

Imagine this: you are given an award. Some random award from work or an organization you belong to. You are probably going to tell people you know. There are those you can't wait to tell, because they say things like:

  • That is great! You so deserve it!
  • I know you have worked hard and I love seeing you get rewarded
  • This is just the beginning of good things for you

Their eyes shine, they hug you, they want to make you do more.

There are others who you don't feel so good about telling. You hope that they will share your happiness, that they will, for once, be able to be there for you, to cheer you on. But once again you are disappointed as you hear them say:

  • Oh, I bet they give lots of those awards
  • That's what they give you instead of money
  • Awards don't really mean much

The black cloud descends. Your energy level sinks. It's like they can't wait for you to climb up a little so they can knock you back down. Like they take your happiness and feed the endless black hole they have inside themselves.

If you call the dark people out about their negativity, they counter with something like "I'm just being realistic," meaning it is YOU who is wrong, not them.

I don't know what it is in me that gets me so pulled in to the darkness and so dismissive of the light. But I am going to work on believing the supportive people and in keeping away from the others.

I have already come a long way. I have had to work like hell to climb out of some of the holes I have let myself be pushed down into - places where I doubted my purpose, my talents, my very reason for existing. I have been there and I'm not going back.

Anyone want to join me in jumping up toward the light?


flutter said...

I am with you, lady.

Amie Adams said...

You're so right about the inspiration those three women are. They seem to derive so much from making others feel good about themselves. Thank goodness for people like that.

My problem is I that I want to believe them, but I can't. It's not others who bring me down for I am the one with the dark words for myself.

super des said...

Amen sister!

Ericka said...

i don't know those three women, but i'm very well aquainted with both sides. a friend calls the dark ones 'psychic vampires.' they just suck the life right outta you.

sure, i'll join you. sounds like fun. there will be alcohol, right? ;-)

Elan Morgan said...

Is this the same woman who so dislikes my graceinsmallthings.ning.com thing?
I'll redouble my efforts with you.

mar said...

i need to be reminded of this often, so that i don't turn into one of those people.

Lynnea said...

Me me me!

I'm like you, I can be knocked down into a dark hole and it can take me a long time to crawl back out.

Kizz said...

Why am I not wearing my superhero necklace today? Yes, we need more cheering sections.


Susan C said...

Thanks for the reminder to both be the light and to go toward the light.

Grace said...

I've been thinking a lot along the same lines since BlogHer. Conversations with all three of those women--even brief ones--were highlights of my time there. There is something about that kind of non-sugary positivity and supportiveness that just helps you to keep going and to feel inspired and good about what you're doing and the challenges you are facing. I tend to be negative as a default state, I think, and I'd much rather be like that and put that type of energy out into the world. I'm definitely working on it.

Jennifer said...

I have already jumped, feet first.

And also? I love this post. Your lines describing the "light" people and the "dark" people are among the most dead on accurate I've ever seen.

angel apologist said...

A year, 6 months ago, I might have rolled my eyes " O that RS, she is so touchie-feelie... "

....I know better now. I can never again let someone drag me into the pit, and make me doubt myself.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I think those naysayers are jealous and just want to knock you down to make themselves fell better. How Jr. High is that?

Congrats on the award. I'm sure you deserved it and your place in the sun!

Overflowing Brain said...

I'm so with you.

My husband got a scholarship, to medical school (he got the one and only one for his year). His mother told him, in all seriousness, that they choose the scholarships by throwing all the applications up a flight of stairs and seeing which goes the farthest.

I want to jump toward the light. I just have a lot of work to do on the way.

kris said...

I'm on board! I'm amazed at the effect this kind of positivity can have on the Negative Nellies, too. I've seen it happen, seen the Dark Ones realize that they aren't getting the reinforcement they crave. While it may not bring them to the light, it does shut them up. ;)

Andrea said...

I'm in.

And you know what? I think sometimes I might be one of the Negative Nellies. I don't try to be, and I hope I don't come off that way, but your post reminds me to mind what I say, that even if I'm not being serious, sometimes, it comes out of my mouth wrong, and I should be mindful of how I'm reacting to someone so that I don't even sound a hint of disparaging to someone's successes. They deserve them, and I need to be happy for people instead of snarky all the time. Sometimes a genuine congratulations is all that's called for.

Mrs. G. said...

I am with you as I blunder my way through a mess of extended family hell.

Here's my worry: I may be one of those dark people even though I try otherwise, try to be positive and encouraging to, really, everyone in my life.

If I am a vampire, I need someone to tell me honestly. Otherwise, I sit in limbo hoping I'm doing the right thing.

I'm sure this sounds odd, but I am slightly odd these days (though it is waning)

Great post...I always get something meaningful over here.

gael said...

Choose light!

And once again, you nailed it with words. Because you can! You write beautifully and you've been in the light for years. Anyone who knows you has seen it shining in your eyes and your smile.

I like this light side. I think I'm even getting a tan.

Lucy said...

Thank you so very much for writing this, SueBob! It means a lot to read it, as it is an issue I struggle with, too.

You go, Girl!

Lena said...

I fear I have been that person. And now I am crying.

amy turn sharp said...

love this and you! xo

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

This is exactly the post I needed to read RIGHT NOW. A crazy woman has been attacking me (falsely) by name on her blog and in a discussion forum on the web site of the Pasadena Star News. I know she's crazy and it is pointless to try and set her straight about the facts. But today, she really got under my skin. I cried, then got mad at myself for crying, then forgave myself for crying and getting mad at myself.

This crazy woman is not going to give up soon, so I need to learn to live with it. So, I shall.

Thank you, SueBob!

laurie said...

I was in the Shutter Suite talking to Stephanie Roberts, Jen's Picture Hope partner whom I met three years ago at BlogHer Business in New York and had that immediate connection with that you get from time to time at these BlogHery things. She and I have kept in touch all this time and I've watched her move forward in such amazing ways with the photography and she has kept up with me.

She needed to help Jen get ready for the book signing. She asked her if there was anything she could do to help. Jen immediately said, "You need to stay where you are and keep talking to Lauriewrites because her words and dreams are important and need to be shared with the world."

Who says these things and genuinely means them in the moment like this woman? I was so touched.

And Stephanie kept talking to me. It was a gift - the suite was and so was that whole interaction. People talked smack about how terrible and mercenary the conference was and I thought well, I'm sorry that was your experience but I was immersed in friendship and amazing, restorative conversation for most of the weekend. (And yes, wine. Sue me. :))

Jen lives up the street from me at home. I know her fairly well but see her infrequently. Coming from many people, that statement might seem incredibly hokey. From Jen it was just beautiful. I'd like to in my own small way be that kind of force for good. Hopefully we've all come together in this space to help that along for each other - at least that's the way I'm viewing it this year and will do my best to in the future.

(And you are one of the people who makes this come true, just so you know.)

traceyclark said...

suebob, these are such pearls of wisdom here.there's nothing worse than sinking to the depths because of someone else's anchor. here's to floating to the top, face toward the sun, soaking in the pure goodness we deserve.
and do i even need to say that i am beyond honored (and even weepy) about what you said. sniff sniff. reading those words was the best medicine for me right now. thank you.

andrea scher said...

Oh girl, I am so with you on this!!

and so honored to have been mentioned as someone shining some light.

love to you!!

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