My mother was an Olympic criticizer, so I learned to be a people pleaser, trying to keep anyone and everyone off my back. Although I have long-ago given up trying to please others, I can still hit a “button” from the past now and then.

Everyone, including my dear mother, is looking at you through the lens of what they have sculptured out of their past experiences and impressions. In my self-help workshop junkie years, I learned how a specific judgment about something or someone reflected back to me something about me. With a “what can I learn about me from that thought,” attitude, I was less likely to judge.

When I worked with teenagers, teaching life survival skills, one of the techniques I taught was called FOGGING. If you throw a rock into a fog bank, it doesn’t throw it back. There are many responses you can make to someone’s criticism, and favorites were: (1) You could think that, (2) That could be true, (3) Possibly, and the kid’s favorite, (4) SO! “That shirt looks ridiculous! “ (respond with one–#1, #2, #3, or #4) Repeat your answer to anything the other person says. I taught “SO!” to my grandchicks, and I could tell when one of them was being unkind because the other one would emphatically say,”So!”

People who are unkind like to upset other people. They are probably unkind because they hurt inside, and nothing will turn them away faster than a quiet response from an undisturbed person. What other people think of you is none of YOUR business!

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Scott A. McDaniel photo