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  • Writer's pictureKathie Scalf

Up or Out?

I recently had a big argument with my closest friend. When you’ve been in one another’s lives as long as we have, it would be unrealistic to think there won’t be bumps in the road. Nonetheless, it breaks my heart when we have these disagreements over the years, because as much as it hurts to feel betrayed by those closest to you, it’s equally as painful to think you hurt them in return. When we finally simmered down enough to have a rational conversation and hash it out, (weeks later-this was no small tiff!) one thing that surprised me was when he kept repeating I tend to make “personal attacks” when we’re arguing. I had no idea what he was referring to; I racked my brains thinking of some insult I’d slung his way, or a name I’d called him. When he finally told me specifically what I’d said I was shocked! He was miffed by me calling out a situation in his life that I find unhealthy; for me, I was just using this scenario as evidence to support my feelings and said nothing derogatory, just stated the facts. I asked him to maybe consider it was hurtful because deep down he might know it’s true.

I think we all know that things hit the hardest when they’re close to home. We tend to personalize topics we’re insecure about and not think twice about actual insults with regards to things we’re confident in. For example, I know beyond doubt I am very smart and independent. So if someone were to call me stupid or a leech, I would laugh in their face and keep it moving. But if my Mom absent-mindedly tugs my shirt down because its riding up, I will burst into tears of fury, because I’m so insecure about my flabby midsection that in my mind it feels as though she’s calling me fat. (This is a very real situation that has happened. Recently.)

While listening to a fitness podcast yesterday, the host/coach said, “I’m not trying to call you OUT, I’m calling you UP!” and I found that so fitting to these circumstances. It would be so beneficial to “consider the source” when reacting to things that feel like a personal insult. People who love and care about you aren’t trying to call you out, they’re trying to hold you accountable and lift you above the things holding you down. Nine times out of ten if something is striking a nerve with you, it’s because you’ve already rolled it around in your head enough times you know it needs to be changed. You’re not actually angry at them for mentioning it, you’re mad at yourself for not doing anything about it; its sometimes just easier to point the finger anywhere but back at yourself.

I find myself doing this a lot with regards to money as of late. I’m obviously not sharing with the world the true depths of my financial struggles, but quite frankly it’s my greatest source of stress. Because of my line of work I don’t think people really grasp the full extent of just how dire the situation has been because it always looks like I’m dining out, having drinks and traveling. So anytime I post a beautiful vacation destinatio and mention how much I want to go, and someone says “just go! Stop making excuses and do it!” I have to physically contain myself from ripping their head off. These people think I’m just prioritizing work, or some other navigable roadblock, when in reality there are weeks I cannot afford my groceries. They don’t know, so I have to take a beat, take a breath and remind myself that was a completely innocent and actually encouraging remark. This person wants me to do things I enjoy- they’re not actively trying to twist the dagger that lives in my heart and my wallet.

On the flip side of this, I also need to improve my timing. No one is more aware of the things they’re doing wrong than the person doing them, and there’s a fine line between holding someone accountable and plain old badgering them. At a certain point I must let people make their own decisions and if they’re not ready to make the changes, no amount of confrontation from me is going to change that. It’s also probably not best to bring up these issues during a heated argument. When you’re calling someone UP it should be presented with the love in which it’s intended and not through gritted teeth or raised voices. That definitely feels like you’re calling someone OUT and it’s not productive.

At the end of the day, its most important to hold ourselves to the same accountability we hold everyone else. Look inward at our own triggers and figure out why they’re such a hot button, then resolve it. And get in the habit of calling ourselves up instead of out; speaking to ourselves from a place of self-love and not self-hatred while being very real about where we thrive and where we could use some improvement.


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