Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When Relationships Seem MEAN


Difficulties in relationships stem from lack of effective communication. What you think you said or did may not have been received in the way you intended. It may have also been because a word you used was NOT the most correct for the situation.

As an adult learning a new language I’ve become aware that words I use regularly, words others accept readily, are no longer being used true to their original meaning. An example might be the word ‘MEAN.’ It is one of those ordinary, everyday words with lots of different connotations. I grew up understanding that it referred to someone who was unkind. After researching its definitions I found greedy, selfish or stingy included in the definitions.

 For years I believed that it referred to someone who was not being nice or wouldn’t share -especially when it involved my feelings being hurt. This old understanding was already hardwired into my brain long before I finished primary school so it was an awakening when, as an adult, I became aware of its truer implication
The English language is a composite of many languages, most of them having their roots in Latin. As my adult mind struggles in relating to nuances of the Spanish language I find the  old classical English literature of high school offering the grounded logic I seek. That led me to exploring old English dictionaries and studying antonyms for the word MEAN. I learned that terms that have faded in use such as,  ‘mean distance’ or 'mean value' relate to least or something of the lowest degree.

Applying this new understanding to some old personal experiences allowed me to see the experience in a completely different light. I saw where the other person involved had not had ENOUGH. It makes sense that people can only give what they have. If they don’t have enough money they cannot lend to others, when their self image doesn't allow for enough self-appreciation they cannot praise another or when they lack love for themselves they have none to give.

Relationships are about sharing or giving. When we don’t have what someone is asking for we will substitute something else.  It might be criticism, condemnation or anger. Feeling trapped by inadequacy can feel painful and we act from pain: MEAN.  The next time you find yourself thinking that someone is MEAN try looking at the event through this new light. You’ll likely see that it is not about you. That insight brings a sense of freedom that will let you choose your next move peacefully.

Have you experienced anything like this before? Let me know.
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