My rather quiet day was impacted by opportunities to listen. It's hard to give advice sometimes. Sometimes you simply don't know what to say. You feel cautious, so you're happy when you get help--even from the most unlikely places.
I'm convinced that few things are happenstance. Three strangers helped me today to pass on good advice: talk show host, Dr. Phil McGraw, actor, Tom Selleck, and visual artist, Sam Gilliam.
I hung onto Dr. Phil's words and tried my best to paraphrase, because his words couldn't have come at a better time. Someone was struggling with a difficult person, feeling defeated, and not understanding why they were being treated so badly.
In essence, the good doctor said:
"It's the weakest time you'll ever be in your life if you've declared yourself a victim in some way. The strongest that you will ever be is when you are in control--making rational, compassionate decisions, not being paranoid, suspicious, negative, sarcastic, combative and unreasonably/unnecessarily defensive. Anger is a symptom of hurt, fear, and frustration. Be sorry that things happened to people, and understand that they may be damaged."
His words were just the script I needed. It's so important to remember that by no means do you internalize another person's bad behavior, blame yourself for it, or question yourself about it. It's not you. He said that abrasive people "behave as if they have a bad sunburn". It's so true! If you even attempt to get close to them, reason with, correct or even help them, and they'll freak out. They'll lash out before you even touch them.
He continued with the revelation that they will not change until they heal whatever has removed their peace. It's true. Hurt people who bully others need help. They don't hear themselves. They're oblivious to their tone or intent. They need to be the center of attention--so they adore anyone who will suck up to them, or submit; laugh at everything they say; be at their beck and call; or puff them up. Someone who really loves them and can actually help them, will be met with suspicion. They will reject, and treat badly the kindest of people. It's critical to avoid taking personally anything they say of do. Just pray for them.
Actor Tom Selleck provided words of wisdom for another situation. A friend was recommended for a task that they can do, and are talented enough to perform well, but are fearful about. Selleck's words were:
"To risk, and fail, and pick yourself up, and start over--that's how you learn...First, develop an appetite for failure and what it teaches you, because you're not going to be right every time...The nerves are gonna get to you, and you're gonna fail....You learn to handle nerves...you gotta make friends with those nerves, cause they'll kill you otherwise. They're part of your talent, so when your hands get sweaty before walk on stage, talk to 'em and say, "Thank you for coming. I'm glad you're here 'cause you're gonna make me better"...If you don't risk, you can't really succeed. The fear of failure is holding so many of our young people back..."
...and then artist Sam Gilliam's words were just for me:
"I used to paint without green...it's an experiment every time. I still read, I still look, I still see...There is never anything that you do that is collective in one moment...Go someplace so that you learn something that is not in front of you. The sense of real success in any media is difference. Go somewhere so that you're not the same...Go so you can have something to actually add. The world is quite beautiful."
I admire thoughtful, discerning people.
Today is also the birthday of two of the wisest women I have ever met, my friends Carolene Adams and Wanda Neal. It's good to know that if you ever need to talk, there are people who won't just bring their opinions and personal experience to the table, but godly wisdom.