Do you have a uniqueness that leaves you vulnerable to thoughtless people?
When people react to our uniqueness insensitively or thoughtlessly it can feel like someone has ripped out your heart and stomped on it. For years, especially teenage years, we can shy away from opportunities in life just to avoid embarrassing and painful situations. Unfortunately, we will always encounter people that test our character. The good news is that we can learn the power of reaction which can take the spotlight off us and put it back on them and their behaviour.
I remember an incident in the Douche Zone when my boy was a little baby. We were resting at a park bench outside a shop when a lady approached me. My son was in his stroller all tucked up in a blanket. The lady walked directly up to me and asked if she could look at my baby and before I could answer she had taken off his blanket and was examining him to see if he was a little person too. When she discovered he wasn’t she patted me on the head and told me how clever I was for making such a big baby. Needless to say I was horrified but because I didn’t have the skills to protect myself in this situation, I was exposed to an experience that left me feeling powerless, violated and later furious.
It took weeks to get over that incident. After many tears and discussions with close friends and family I vowed that I would never allow a person to have that much power over my being again. So after many years of trialling and testing defence techniques, I managed to adjust my default reaction from shock to self-assuredness and control. I thought it may be helpful to share them.
Firstly I use the term Douche not to insult or label people who I find a challenge but to put a light hearted spin on an otherwise embarrassing and hurtful situation.
As children with uniqueness we develop radars. It goes off when we sense a possible uncomfortable situation or difficult person. Mostly that triggers a sense of anxiety and nervousness. When our characters are so directly and abruptly challenged we can often find ourselves responding harshly and or running for cover. This is so very normal and until we develop skills to deal with these situations better, we should not beat ourselves up for it. However long-term, and for our own quality of life we deserve better than that.
If I had read this when I was younger I may have found some of the harshest lessons a little less difficult but instead, in this instance like many others I have been chosen to share and perhaps teach instead. At 37 years old my radar is very well tuned in the Douche Zone. So much so that I know who I will or will not engage with almost immediately by the way people react to my uniqueness and or their body language. It took me years to perfect this radar but ultimately it is about using our intuition. This is good news to everyone because we all have a sense of intuition inbuilt from a very young age and with experience and training enables us to better react to challenging situations and people.
For example the incident with the woman in the mall where I pretty much sat there with my chin on the floor and then crawled into a cave and cried for several days. You wouldn’t catch me doing that know, in fact she was very fortunate that day. I find myself in similar situations from time to time but they never affect me or render me helpless as they used to.
Evaluating people in the Douche Zone
This is really important because the way you react to a child that has challenged your character is quite different to the way you’d react to an adult. Also, it is the nature of the challenge that determines your response too.
The following examples show how I evaluate my reactions to deal with different people at different ages:
Toddlers I don’t react! I smile warmly and get on with my day. They are toddlers. A bonus would be that mum or dad used that as a learning opportunity for their little one.
Children If they are asking questions I put my teaching hat on and with a voice that commands respect I answer their questions the best I can. If they are rude, I put my authoritive voice on and tell them to ‘Stop being so rude’. Usually works. If they start getting nasty I look to the adult they are with suggestively for intervention which usually works (99% of the parents are horrified if their children are nasty) and many apologise. If their adult isn’t around I usually tell the child ‘I am not interested in talking to them because they are rude’ which ruins their fun and then I turn to one of their friends who is often just on looking and start a nice conversation with them. The first child soon feels left out at which time I remind them if they want to join in there are rules, which again usually works.
Teenagers I’m pretty stern when they are rude. They will either, get the picture quick and snap out of it or the will feel they have to challenge you to be cool and carry on. That doesn’t happen too often because teenagers are more about having fun than causing trouble in my experience. But in the odd occasion where a teenager has challenged me, I have made my point very clearly and disengaged like they don’t exist. I don’t have an ego or a need to win a battle. That just makes you fall to their level. Usually I say my peace, maybe get a point or two in and then brush them off. If this is their general behaviour to people with people of difference their problems are of many and none of mine.
Adults I am pretty blunt with adults as they should know better. I cut them off pretty fast. The challenge with them is it is sometimes hard to gauge their intention. Sometimes they are just being genuinely curious and sometimes they are just being intrusive. Bottom line is it is not about their intention it is about how their questions make me feel. If I’m unsure or feeling challenged, I have learned to tell them that they are asking personal questions that I don’t feel like discussing it with them. However, if they make the effort to come up to me quietly and respectfully and ask if they can ask a few questions then I am all in, because respect has been initiated. Some adults think they are funny by making remarks like “did you get in the hobbit movie” which for some reason they think is marvellously hilarious. I openly roll my eyes at them like their jokes are silly and rarely give away much more than that. I just don’t completely engage but nor do I make them feel bad, they are not trying to be nasty. I think the most shocking example of adult idiotism is when parents point people out with difference to their children like you would at a zoo! I know! But it has happened more than once. A look from me of disbelief and disgust is the only energy I choose to put into that kind of situation, if any. I only hope that the children will grow up with a little more common sense.
Last but not least! The Drunken Douche Zone. The challenges are rampant in this environment. I have spent my life in the social scene and for me it is a simple formula. Pick my fights wisely. Have some good, fun, trustworthy friends around you, have a thick skin and don’t sweat the silly stuff. Focus on the amazing people the world has to offer you and the amazing experiences that are there to help you grow into a strong, confident and powerful contributing member of society. Walk away from negative and expose yourself to all things positive. Confidence is knowledge and knowledge is learning from mistakes and victories. Embrace who you are, love life hard and have no regrets.
I hope this has been useful to some people. This wasn’t intended as a step by step guide of what to do but as an insight of what I do; maybe it will give you some ideas on how you want to conduct yourself in times of challenge.
Written by Jacqui Barrett
Creator of the Special Me Group
Photos courtesy of Tracey Stevens Photography