Mean People Suck. Love Them Anyway.



“Sometimes you have to allow yourself to be misunderstood.”

Even though these are my own words, oh how hard this is to carry out sometimes.  Especially when people misrepresent you and then other people react to something that you never said or wrote or even remotely believe.  Why have we grown a society which wants to prey upon its own kind like vultures to smaller birds?  Why can’t we look at our society like us/us?  Will we ever outgrow our survivalist fittest-ish ways?  Will we ever grow up?  Will our hearts ever communally break apart so wide open that love will really rule?  Especially when people are willing to be honest and vulnerable in the hopes that it will help other members of this collective We that acts more like an auto-immune diseased species, fighting its own constitution.  

            Recently I’ve had the pleasure of writing a book that has helped many people.  I hear from people daily—men, women, religious, not religious, married, unmarried, from the US and abroad, sharing their own stories, opening their own veins.  And it blows me away that something as simple as being willing to commit to a philosophy of non-suffering and then getting the chance to apply it to a real life personal crisis can fill a heart hole in the world.  It makes me wonder how much we are all hiding and stuffing away—how much we are so silently suffering.

            What’s shocking to me, well maybe not so shocking really, is how people don’t want to be happy.  Or free from suffering.  Convinced that being victims serves them well, thankyouverymuch.  How violently they’ll resist and attack this simple age-old message that well-being is really a choice. 

            It inspires me to think of the work of mothers.  We would do our children well, then to point out that, no, no one made you mad.  No one made you cry.  No one made you sad.  You chose that.  Short of being punched in the face.  Emotional pain is your choice. 

            Why do so many people NOT want to hear this message?  Why?  Because they get to be right.  “See—the world sucks.”  And they point the finger just like they’re used to doing, and they stay in their world of hurt.  Again why?  Because that’s their comfort zone.  Well what if you started out being able to identify the pain and suffering in this sort of relationship with life and yourself?  What if you learned and loved what it was to be internally free from an early age?  Think of what the world would be like.  Mothers, we have work to do!

            It’s like the telephone game in grade school.  Begins in one form, ends in a new creature altogether.  It’s like the mean girl in high school starting a false rumor about you because her boyfriend has a crush on you or you grew boobs over the summer.  People, young and old, have all kinds of guts behind a computer screen, or in closed rooms without an audience. 

            I remember once when two of my friends started a rumor about me in 7th grade.  It was entirely untrue.  And I was pissed.  Not as much because of how it portrayed me in my school and my town, but because it proved that people are mean and I hated to see that this was so even in my own circle of beloved friends.  So I got on my bike and I rode it over to the house where they were spending the night.  I walked in the back door, and found them in the sunroom watching cartoons.  My heart was pounding and I lifted my head and breathed deeply and sat down on the couch. 

            They ignored me.

            I just sat there.  Heart pounding, but my mind strangely calm.

            Finally I spoke.  “Why would you make up a lie about me?  It hurt my feelings.  What did I do to you that you would be so mean?”

            They had no answer.  We just sat there, like I was waiting to be absorbed into a cell wall but didn’t really care if I was or not.  I just wanted to be a presence in the field of honesty.  A heart pumping visibly in a room of meanness.  Reminding them that they too had hearts.  And that I would forgive them their humanness, even though it hurt.  Eventually, we ended up playing outside and doing what kids/people do when they’re not being afraid and small and mean.

            Years later, I was out to dinner with one of those girls.  She had a big job in NYC and was a big celebrity because of it.  People came up to her and fawned all over her and I sat there in the wrong outfit feeling a bit invisible.  And finally, she said to me in a moment of privacy, “I’ll never forget that time I was mean to you when we were kids, and you came over to my house and confronted me.  I think about that all the time.  You were really brave.  We were just jealous of you, because somehow you were able to be a nice girl and be popular– have power and still be kind.  I don’t think we knew what to do with that.  I was in a lot of pain in my life back then.  You stood for a hope I didn’t know how to have.  I’ve used that as a baseline way to be with people who are mean to me.  And believe, me, people are mean to me, a LOT.” 

            I’d actually forgotten about that morning in the sunroom until she brought it up in that chic New York City restaurant.  And I’ll admit that I breathed deeply and felt proud of my little girl self.

            And now, although most of it is so incredibly positive and gracious, when I do read mean things about me or what I’ve written, I wonder what kind of pain people are in, that they cannot see the freedom in choosing to let go and that happiness is a simple choice.  But just like that sunny room all those years ago, there’s not much I can say except that my heart is open.  Is yours?

“We all need more kindness in this world”– Guy Davis


Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, Motherhood, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts

17 Responses to Mean People Suck. Love Them Anyway.

  1. This is so true, and I am not sure why either. I always think of that Plato line: “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (I might be misquoting slightly!).
    Thank you for the reminder. I share your longing for a day when our hearts can ache communally rather than, somehow, confrontationally.

    • lauramunson

      Thanks for the quote, Lindaey. I’ll think of it today in my own challenges. What would happen if we all welcomed each other instead of fighting? I watched Invictus the other night, about Nelson Mandela. Loving his enemy. So powerful.

  2. Jodi

    Oh great. I just did the total OPPOSITE of this. I am in the throes of it right now, actually. My heart is still racing, hands shaking. Even though I REALLY DON’T want to suffer. I totally just made a conscious decision to. All because of someone else’s idea of what I should have done.
    Guess I’d better go read your book again……which I TOTALLY loved, by the way.

  3. Laura, I’ve been thinking that I needed to connect with you for awhile now and when I read this, I knew it for sure. I can so relate to what you wrote here and wrote a similar post on my blog called “Be Kind”. I have experienced many of the things you’ve talked about in this post. I don’t know what it is in humans that wants to sabotage all that is good in people. Why wouldn’t we want to celebrate the success and goodness of another? What makes people want to say horrible things? All that I can think of is that people feel misery and since they can’t see out of it, they want to make everyone around them miserable too. Your book gave light and hope to so many and by sharing your experience honestly, others could feel that they weren’t alone in their experience. We all share this human experience, so why not support each other. You are brave and you are amazing and I honor what you did. You deserve all the happiness and success the world has to offer and I’m so happy I met you!

    • lauramunson

      Katherine– thank you for your strong and kind words. I’m so glad I met you too! Maybe people have just gotten used to their suffering. It’s become their normal. I can certainly relate to that as a writer. Maybe we have to have suffered to choose not to any more. Or at least to be committed to breaking free of it. Sometimes easier than others. I hope to be back in Seattle sooner than later and would love to connect.

  4. Someone told me a story once about how if there are a bunch of crabs in a bucket and one tries to get out, to escape, the others will pull him back in the bucket. So often I think human beings are like this, pulling each other back in the bucket, “stay in here, we are all going to be miserable together damn it!” rather than climbing out of the bucket and reaching back in to help another out until the bucket is empty.
    Mean people suck and they are sad but you my friend, are out of the bucket.

  5. Mimi

    Wow, Laura! The childhood story is amazing. I guess you have been a rare creature since very young. I have a friend who has never forgotten even the slightest pain from childhood on up. I visited her recently and she has been disabled by fibromyalgia for years. Rather than letting go (though she seems to want that) she immerses herself in negative news and anger at all that is wrong in the world. I see this pattern as literally destroying her life. She could be a wonderful artist, she has talent and yet, she chooses misery. The pattern is so strong, though, that she cannot see she is choosing it. Better to be a victim of circumstances than admit you had some choice. I pray for her every day! Thanks again for your words. Don’t worry if people are mean. They need to hold on to being right, because taking responsibility involves a measure of being wrong (in their eyes) and perhaps they don’t know how to forgive themselves.

    • lauramunson

      Wise words, Mimi. I think there is a field of freedom when we step out of emotional rights and wrongs. Rumi’s, “outside of rightdoing and wrongdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” I love that quote. Maybe your friend would like it too.

  6. Katie Jane Wennechuk Thomas

    While I was reading your book I happened to find an essay in a book of 1950s feminist writing that mentioned the “bitch goddess success.” I loved that. So apt.

  7. No one can think rationally and creatively when their basic needs are constantly being threatened or simply not accessible. And the fact is that nearly everyone in the West is indeed constantly being threatened, usually on a very subtle level, but some on more obvious levels, and most clearly are not able to get even their nutritional needs met (let alone clean air and water needs) due to major toxicities, pollution, and just an overwhelming amount of crap that’s promoted as “food”. Studies show that nearly all USAmericans, for example, are seriously deficient in vitamin D (from sunlight) and Omega-3 fats (from fresh, raw purslane, walnuts, chia, flax), both of which have a direct effect on brain function.

    So before you blame someone for causing their own illnesses, consider that we’re living in a world where making, and keeping people sick is one of the most profitable businesses out there aside from all out war.

    So perhaps, one might say, it sucks to be sick, and love can help people heal.

  8. Katie Jane Wennechuk Thomas

    Blame and responsibility are entirely different. Blame is impotent and responsibility is omnimpotent.

  9. Laura- Just came by to check out your blog again. Love this post and the line- “be a presence in the field of honesty.” Mean people do suck but I bet it sucks more to be one of them. It can’t feel good to behave with mean-spiritedness. XO- B.

    • lauramunson

      So true, Brigetta. Some people walk around trying to make other people wrong. ALL THE TIME. I think that would be a painful existence. ox back atchya. Laura

  10. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been stewing about how to graciously deal with a similar situation at work. You offer a very wise and direct way of confronting this kind of gossip. I may direct my students to this entry.

    Thank you so much for your book. On so many levels it’s encouraging, courage giving, and has the ability to bring people into community with each other.

    • lauramunson

      Katie– If something that I have written helps build community, then it’s all worthwhile being the main character. Sign up for my newsletter on my website. I’d love to have you there to share in just this sort of community.

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