It’s Not About You

“It’s not about you.” This phrase is on a mental loop whenever I’m dealing with someone who is rude or clueless about my experience with migraine. At first it was just a way to cope without becoming furious, but it has become a truth that I see in every rude comment someone makes.

People hurt us out of their own fear or pain. Although I can’t remember where I heard this insight, that piece of knowledge has become an invaluable tool for me. Whenever someone has hurt me, I think about where they’re coming from, what fear or pain is present in their lives. Invariably, I see that whatever they’re saying, whatever they choose to believe about me or migraine has very little to do with me at all.

Maybe they have no experience with illness and can’t put themselves in our shoes. They might stick to their rigid beliefs because they are too threatened to step outside their worldview. Or they have to believe that migraine is easily controlled because it is too scary to acknowledge that illness can wreak such havoc on a person’s life. It could be that they’re own lives are so disheveled that they need to feel like they’re right about something (even if they’re totally wrong).

The rudeness, the insipid cures, the supposedly easy fixes, the lack of understanding and empathy all come down to the difficulties in that person’s life. It’s not about me and it’s not about you. Not at all.

There’s no denying it hurts when a loved one, co-worker, or even an acquaintance intimates (or outright says) that we’re lazy or not working hard enough or faking it or exaggerating our symptoms. We can’t stop people from being ignorant or rude, but we can change how we respond to their accusations. Maybe that’s saying, “You have no idea what I’m going through” or just ignoring the comments.

Whatever you say to them isn’t as important as what you do with what they said. Instead of taking their accusations to heart, reminding yourself that it isn’t about you, but about their own pain and fear can go a long way toward rebuffing the hurt.

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