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So far, we have looked at 6 of the 9 words that we all should remove from our vocabularies. Each of these words has been tied to a concept that is limiting. Redefining those limiting concepts can be key to moving forward and overcoming fears. Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, in order to see all 9 words.
Today we will look at the last 3 words:
When we say that someone is “stabbing us in the back,” we are assuming that their intention is to harm us. And yet, we do not know what their intention is. It is more likely that they are in survival mode and acting out of fear. People throw other people under the bus without truly realizing it, when they are so absolutely focused on their own survival.
And remember that it takes two people do complete this dance. When we are “stabbed in the back,” we can often see in hindsight how an inability to establish boundaries allowed this to happen. When we do not advocate for ourselves, it becomes easier for this type of behavior to occur.
Here is an example. When I was in my first teaching job, I did a great deal of work and contributed a lot, but I was never recognized for it. I would then volunteer to do the bulk of the work in my co-taught classes, and when I was unable to complete it, my teaching partners would report me to administration.
Were they stabbing me in the back? Was their intention to harm me? Not likely. They were probably acting out of fear. Perhaps they were worried that their work would not get done. Perhaps they misunderstood my intentions and thought I was brushing them off.
What they did not know was that I was in over my head. And how could they, when I did nothing to communicate this? Failing to read someone’s mind does not make a person a backstabber.
Nearly everyone who has set out to make positive changes has experienced this phenomenon. They will take leaps forward–or even just small steps–and they suddenly revert to their old habits. It will seem like they are moving backwards.
And yet moving backwards is not possible. It is not possible to un-learn something that we have learned. In order to understand what actually is happening, it is necessary to know a little more about the learning process.
When we learn something new, we first master it in one setting, under one set of circumstances. When we are faced with changes in these areas, it can seem like we haven’t learned the new skills at all. We must learn to apply the same skills in the new environment.
I will give you an example from my own journey. I used to experience the greatest amount of fear at work. So I worked on redefining my assumptions and improving my communication with my co-workers and bosses. I experienced a great deal of success with this, until I was faced with a new situation at work. Then I had to go through the learning process all over again–although it went a little more quickly that time. And after that, I had to go through the same process in my relationships outside of work.
There is no such thing as backsliding. What looks like a “relapse,” is just an opportunity to further your mastery of the skills you have been learning.
In the same way that a person is not “backstabbing” when it appears that they are, a person is never being “condescending.” To call someone this implies, first, that their intention is to show that they are better than us. And it also implies that it is possible for another person to make us feel inferior.
Sometimes people do talk in a manner that could be called condescending. But why do they do this? It is often because they are feeling insecure. An appropriate response would be to be curious with such people. Ask open-ended questions to help them get to the real issues.
And often times the “condescending tone” is only in the head of the person who is listening. Remember that one person can not offend another. If we are offended by something, it is because we already have doubts about ourselves. So if somebody appears to be trying to make us feel inferior, it is likely that we have doubts about ourselves, and the other person’s words are feeding into those doubts.
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