Jillybean's Blog











{April 21, 2015}   Refuse To Engage…

A casual conversation I had several weeks ago went something like this…

“This person is not formidable.  They aren’t even skilled or present…How do people like that ever have an impact on anyone????”

I screamed into the phone one eerily quiet night discussing the recent exploits of a person who routinely takes perverse joy in putting others down.

“How do people who contribute nothing yet take everything have even a modicum of impact on a hungry world??”

Silence on the other end of the call answered my question.

We were at a loss.

Exasperation deepened the developing lines on my forehead.  I winced.

Frowns from days past were accentuated by the disgust all over my face.

My night was flat-out ruined.

I was engaged in conversation about someone I saw as inferior to most in character, among other things.

I listened and stared at a spot on the wall, the phone cradled to my ear, letting out an angry “Hollywood sigh”…one possibly mistaken for fake through its histrionics.

OK, this much I knew…

This particular person feeds on the aftermath of impugning rather than elevating other people.

I followed up with a smattering of curse words, ruling that virtues of any kind are completely foreign to some people.

I was becoming ugly myself.

How could news of such an appalling individual ruin my night?  Why do these stories have such a hold on me?

What gives a dastard power?

I mulled over it.  I obsessed.  For weeks.

Before I knew it, these consistent conversations caused days to gradually turn murky and dark, like 50 shades of gray gone bad.  I couldn’t sleep.

I couldn’t relax.

I awoke in the middle of the night as my distressed brain dealt with the impossible task of making sense of it all.

***

Insomnia suddenly delivered an abrupt shift in consciousness as something stayed with me in my waking hours:

There actually is truth in the words “rise above it.”

AND…

To be happy…

Do. Not. Engage.

That’s all we need to know.

There will always be times in life where we think we’ve been “had” by someone or something that doesn’t even belong in our arena in the first place.

On the outside, we laugh at the idea that an amateur can challenge our circumstances while we “hold the title” for defending our self-confidence.

Yet, on the inside, we let “them” win somehow.

There will always be people whose purpose it is to challenge us.

Are we who think we are?  Are we as strong, smart, funny…

There will always be those who think that their subtle ways of “dominating” situations actually have lasting impact.

We sometimes fail to realize that this invitation to battle says more about them than it does us.

And there is a catch to this realization.

We are always tempted to engage.

We certainly can “win.”

But…do we really want to when…

…winning imprisons you?

You may get the last word…have the last laugh…

But because you didn’t belong there in the first place, you “scuff up” your own bumper.  My Connecticut bestie says it like this…”You can’t hit someone else’s car without scuffing up your own paint job.”

What to do instead?

Leave them stuck.

Do. Not. Engage.

My Mom used to say when I’d defend myself to kids in school or feel the need to beat my chest in front of emotional bullies: “Don’t play in the mud with them.”

The wisdom of those words continues to propel me today.
She was right.  Sometimes it is more important to allow people to have “one over” on you.

Even when you can beat them at their own game, would you really want to?

***

Lately, there has been something holding me back.  I couldn’t put my finger on it until now.

I was feeling depressed, lowly.

Until I asked…

Who/what am I “fighting”?

I realized…

I am engaging all the time…where I’m not supposed to.

I was always trying to set certain people straight…those who continually tread on others…

My head was so full of and intent on all these “little victories,” like a modern-day Robin Hood for the poor in spirit…

Whether I was engaging an idea, negative thoughts, meanly spoken words about me or someone I loved…

Of course I feeling was lost.  There was no room for anything else.

The answer is clear…rise above when the temptation to engage comes calling.

You’ll be glad you did.

You have to be in the same league with your challenges to even feel a thrill of victory anyway.

Division I, for good reason, doesn’t challenge Gateway Conference teams in consequential competition.

Teams have to be in the same competitive league to be considered true “victors.”

This is what you don’t want.  You don’t want to lower yourself to win anything in life, ever.  No title is worth that.

Merely engaging with someone whose goals are beneath yours robs you of the thrill of victory in the first place…it makes you feel bad about yourself because you know better.

Who knows?  Maybe your not engaging will ultimately make them reach higher for themselves.

***

I told myself I didn’t care when the siren call of fighting for what’s right against the petty came calling.  I shouldn’t have had the energy to care.

That energy was destined for the employment of something bigger and better.  It was perhaps meant to positively affect the world…it was not meant to concern itself with schooling stubborn negativity.

But that wasn’t any of my situations’ problem.

I was.

I didn’t know my own value and know what was worth fighting for and what wasn’t.

We get a stern reminder when we go off-track.  Often it takes the form of mild depression.  We are wasting our energy when we shouldn’t.

It’s like keeping your eyes open to see the the Ark of the Covenant unleashed…best not to look in its direction lest we be stripped of our life.

I had been engaging all over myself.

Until the epiphany.

The first step to happiness is simple:

…Do. Not. Engage.

Tell yourself, again and again.  Over and over…

Do. Not. Engage.

That’s how you win at life.  Some things are just not your fight.

If you’re feeling bouts of misery, you’re probably too engaged where you shouldn’t be.  Ask yourself why you’re fighting, who you’re fighting…

Perhaps you let yourself lose the battle and totally forget about the war…

A worthy fight feels good to win.  One you win yet didn’t belong in leaves you feeling deflated…like a “dirty victory.”  The proverbial “taking candy from a baby…”

You are meant to win significant battles, ones worth fighting for.

And honestly, most battles don’t fall into that category.

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Sandy Gentile says:

Well said Jill. I never really thought about this but you are so right. Now let’s just hope I remember these words of wisdom the next time the situation comes up. Keep them coming, I really enjoy your posts. Sandy



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