One thing that I really love about my major is all of the things I learn about human behavior. I always mention this but I am a Human Development major and learn A TON about a lot of different types of behavior. One that is pretty dang drilled into my head is aggression. Although I love my major and feel as though it has been one of the largest blessings in my life I sometimes equally feel as though it is a curse because I am extremely analytic of behavior. It just comes as second nature for me. Because of this I feel as though I can really tell when people are being relationally aggressive... which is the curse. But I will come back to why in a second.
(for those who don't know what relational aggression is, it is behavior that involves name calling, gossiping, ignoring, belittling, manipulating, excluding, ostracizing etc. -- hope you get the point. Girls do this a lot more than boys, typically.)
One of my favorite things I have learned about a way to overcome or not accept relational aggression is DEFENDERS. Defenders are kids on the playground who will stand up to that bully picking on that innocent kid who is all alone. Being a defender is pretty rare but I feel they are extremely valuable in helping those kids who cannot protect themselves. In my opinion (as well as some professors) being a bystander can be almost just as bad as the bully itself.
Anyway, I say it is a curse that I notice relational aggression because since I feel as though I have the skills to recognize rather subtle acts of it, it is so hard for me to sit back and pretend it is ok for someone to treat people that way. It is even harder when it can be a grown adult woman who is picking on younger women as if they were back in the high school lunch room. I have battled this a lot with people who have come into my life. Sometimes I think of advice from high school health classes that tell girls to get out of toxic relationships as fast as possible. No one deserves to be emotionally, physically, or mentally abused... yet when the case is someone who is close to you and you have no option to walk away how do you bare it?
I have been thinking about this a lot in the past year. I have really really struggled this battle of wanting to stand up for what is right and not let a person bully everyone around but it has actually really ended up backfiring and has cost me my own respect for myself.
Now I wonder, is it right to stand up for what is right? Is it really truly right to be that defender or is it better to be the bystander and let others get hurt?
With a lot of console from my husband who has such a different perspective than me (which is such a testament to me as how much we complement each other), he has really helped me understand what it means to be the best person you can be. Although sticking up for what is right at the right moments are necessary at times, you've got to choose your battles and somethings just are not worth the pain that comes from standing up to someone who is the master at relational aggression. Sometimes you just have to be kind and ignore the insults because it will not make a difference what you say anyway. People who are manipulative can turn anything around and make any good person look bad. The important thing is to not let those things they think be true.
I have to admit, those things could be true and that is hard to accept but the only thing that could free me from the guilt and sorrow I have felt from my own behavior is the atonement and forgiveness. I have needed to forgive myself and know that the Lord loves me and His plan is here to allow me to change and become a better person. His atonement is here to let me heal and become better. Although, some people may never accept that you're better and may not even give you a chance to be better, that doesn't matter because you must know the intent of your own heart and your relationship with the Lord. You know what you've been though, where you've gone, and the progress you are at today.
It's been a hard thing for me to overcome because I'll be honest, I care a lot about my relationships with people which means I care a lot about what people think of me. I saw this quote on Pinterest and just thought it was so perfect, at the end of the day I truly believe no matter what it is always better to be kinder than you feel.
In everything Christ did to stand up for people he was always Kind. He is my ultimate example and I really am trying so hard to be more like him.