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#TheVulnerabilityChallenge Day 19
Who’s to blame?
My sister loves to remind me of this story, and every time she does I feel a pang of shame but it’s the strongest story that I have showing how I used to think.
When I was young, my family were walking to my Nan’s house and I tripped and fell over. Everyone laughed at me and I felt stupid. I was really embarrassed. I got up and turned around and started having a go at my sister for tripping me up. But my sister was nowhere near me; she hadn’t tripped me up at all. I was immediately looking for someone to blame. I didn’t want to look stupid, I wanted to have someone to blame for me ‘looking stupid’. I wanted to believe it was someone’s fault.
Looking for someone to blame whenever things didn’t go to plan in my life made me really unhappy and resentful. I felt completely powerless. It also had implications in relationships. I wouldn’t look at the impact that my own behaviour could have and I never wanted to accept any responsibility for things that went wrong.
There was a time when a colleague was treating me very unfairly. She was being overly critical and mean, making assumptions about me and my work. I felt really awful whenever I worked with her. I dreaded going into work when I knew she would be there. I had never experienced anything like this before. I’d always felt respected by my colleagues in the years I’d worked there. I didn’t know how to handle this, I couldn’t speak up for myself and I didn’t want to complain. When I was working with her, I would keep myself to myself, going off to do my work and having as little to do with her as possible.
One day, I was helping a colleague with something and she came to find me. She started shouting at me in front of clients and colleagues. I had a complete meltdown in the staff room. I couldn’t understand why she was being so horrid to me.
Later, I was thinking back on this experience after learning so much and changing that blame mindset that I had. And I could see that yes, she was in the wrong and, whilst her behaviour did amount to bullying, I had a part to play in that as well. The way that I was behaving in trying to protect myself, impacted on the way that she saw me and then how she choose to treat me.
So it’s taken a lot to change from blaming my sister for pushing me over when I tripped, to acknowledging my part in a bad working relationship. A lot of that is about learning to see from others’ perspectives and asking what else could be true? And it’s also about having compassion for other people. Even when they’re shit to you.