I'm wrapping my head around a thought today. You're shocked, aren't you? Of course. Not.
What's your reaction when someone tells you they think you're not a nice person? Not a good person? How do you react to criticism?
I have an old habit of taking criticism deeply to heart. Obsessing over it. Having endless imaginary conversations with the deliverer of the criticism, wherein I eventually realize what I wished I'd said to them then and kicking myself for not being smart enough to think of that response at the time. I simultaneously buy into the criticism - not in an objective way but in an "I'm a terrible person" way, and I reject it. That's the kind of stuff that makes you crazy. It does. I should know.
I don't think any of us see ourselves as others do, in both the very best and the very worst sense. I don't believe the good things. Rarely, anyway. And what I think they are probably looking at as a negative thing usually isn't close to the thing that actually bothers them. I believe, like many people, that I live in denial of my own worst nature.
I'm working, slowly, on changing the way I react to other people, the way I treat myself. I want to ideally be the kind of person who looks at myself and acknowledges what's good and truthfully acknowledges what the problems are. I know that only by really accessing those parts of myself that hurt and that are constantly reacting because of that hurt can I truly change them. BUT. I also have to have the judgment to evaluate and discard those negatives which aren't really true.
I'm no different from a lot of people in that I constantly find myself taking other people's inventories. Focusing on what's wrong with someone else is a surefire way to avoid dealing with my own stuff. When we get to Step 4 (I will, eventually, I'm still stuck on Steps 1, 2 and 3), we stop taking stock of others and we enter a process that is at first painful and agonizing, but ultimately one that frees us. We look at ourselves. We don't just pick a bunch of bad things and go with it, but we have to truly evaluate not just the faults we think we have, but the ones others have pointed out. We sift for truth. We acknowledge - and sometimes we reject. We assess the impact our actions and words have had on other people and own up to what we've done that was unnecessary and hurtful.
I believe that when this process is finished, many many years down the road, I'll be a much more enlightened and peaceful person. I'll know my real faults. When someone criticizes me or tells me they think I'm a bad person, I won't get angry or defensive. I'll recognize my own truth and be able to let them work through whatever it is they're going through. I'll acknowledge my own part in the conflict and make amends. But until then? I'm going to have to remind myself to stop obsessing over every cruel, hurtful word. I have to remind myself that just because someone else thinks something about me doesn't make it true. Because some things just aren't.