Painful or Grateful?
You can find a survey about most anything. Facebook is certainly proof about that. Still, I never thought I’d come across a survey like this. It was entitled simply “Your Best Insult”. I wrote about this earlier this year and it would seem that the theme of this survey has become a worldwide phenomenon considered proper communication. Insults are not expressions of freedom of speech. They are simply rude comments whose only purpose is to inflict pain. Some have justified their use of insults as “instructional” or “constructive criticism”. Bah humbug! Insults don’t just take us out of our comfort zone or level of arrogance. They are designed to belittle.
The term “comfort zone” is simply a collection of behaviors that we continue to repeat. It is not a location nor should it be our destination. For most of us, our “comfort zone” is where we live, where we feel most comfortable. It is what we do and continue to do… over and over again. Our comfort zone is made up of those things that are common to us, familiar in their repetition. None of us are born with a comfort zone, by the way. We come into this world making the biggest leap of faith possible. We leave a safe and protected environment and are immediately thrust into a world in which we must fend for ourselves. We also suddenly are dependent upon others for everything. We have no chance to develop a comfort zone because we are too busy learning and developing, acquiring new skills and trying new things. It is called growing, surviving and thriving.
At some point, though, we do cultivate a comfort zone and it is often without even realizing it. We settle in and get cozy in our comfort zone and then suddenly – BAM! An insult comes along and shatters our sense of security we have found within that comfort zone home. Most of us try to avoid insults so why on earth, I thought to myself, would some create a survey entitled “Your Best Insult”, especially in an article about bettering one’s self?
The survey questions numbered twenty and I am not going to list them all here. A few did catch my attention, however, so let’s discuss those. First, what insult was said to you that you actually consider a compliment? I remember once having my name mentioned as being the chairperson of an upcoming event. Another stood up and said: “Not her! She thinks life is just a collection of learning opportunities.” The statement was said in a room of almost one hundred people and two hundred eyes instantly turned and looked at me to see how I was reacting. A few close friends began to say something but I stood up and replied: “I was going to protest but you know what? She is absolutely right. Thank you for noticing.” I had never really thought of myself or life in that connotation but the statement was absolutely correct. It not only became a compliment, it helped me define my approach to life. This insult was not painful but instead I became grateful for having received it.
We can either let insults grow ourselves or we can let them be a pesticide that sucks the life out of us. The survey concluded with some very intense questions: At the last event you attended that included people you consider friends. Who approached you and shared a handshake or hug? Who asked about how you were doing? Who just talked about themselves without inquiring about you? How do you define friendship? How do you define yourself?
We often let insults define us. We give into the pain they generally cause and let them motivate us into crawling deeper into our comfort zone. Recently I attended a gathering where I knew almost everyone. Less than one tenth said hello to me, two approached me but none offered a hug or handshake and no one asked how I was. The paragraph at the end of the Best Insult Survey advised that we need to survey our situations, not just ourselves. At this event, people congregated in clichés, staying within their own comfort zone. Two joined my group that only vaguely knew the others. As one said, “My eyes know you because I have seen you around.”
Surveying the situation led me to realize that my group was not like the others and was not being a cliché, My group was comprised of people who felt comfortable stepping outside their comfort zone and joining together. During the exercise, our group of strangers became a group of acquaintances, realizing those things held in common and supporting each other in those things that made them different. A group that began with people who did not seemingly “fit in” became a group of believers and sharing, a group practicing their life beliefs instead of just talking about it.
Certainly if people shy away from us we need to take stock and ask if we are subconsciously sabotaging ourselves. Sometimes, though, maybe we need to look at the situation and not just ourselves. We can all recognize an insult when one is given or acted out. However, maybe we need to do a quick survey of said insult and ask ourselves if it is really painful or something for which to be thankful. Sometimes that insult might just be the best compliment you have ever received. Instead of the spoken insult ruining an ordinary day, it might just make the world brighter as we realize what extraordinary each of us can be.