What happens when we get cast out? When people we love backstab us? When we get fed fists? Stress happens!
In grade school, a girl got persecuted. Swarms of students circled her, shoving her, day in, day out. She feared for her life. So, I started bringing her home at lunchtime. That is, until Mom saw her puff a Player’s Light.
Decades later, at work, my colleague got smeared. While I ate lunch with three staff members, one piped up that she loathed this colleague. Then everyone agreed with her—except me. One guy got so riled with me, he threatened to have me fired unless I joined the rant. He and I almost wound up fist fighting. But I stood my ground. Little did I know, but my colleague heard everything from around the corner, tears stinging his eyes. He would’ve quit that day, he said, had I not taken a stand. In the end, I kept my job, he kept his, and I made a friend for life.
This past month, staff at a store I visit turned on me. Previously, I viewed several as friends. Many had shared private tidbits about their lives, and we often laughed together. So, they caught me off guard. If I had to fend them off alone, I would have crumbled. But my boyfriend defused the pettiness. Then, the store manager disciplined the staff. Pays to know how to handle fire.
People can get funny. They might gang up on you. They might seem like buddies but behave like foes. But we need people to survive. Babies die without touch. Seniors pass early with no loved ones. But toxic buddies can lead to suicide. So, be smart: put people to the stress test.
Brian Keane grades the stress test in his book The Fitness Mindset: Eat for Energy, Train for Tension, Manage your Mindset, Reap the Results:
- Why do we sink so much seeking A+ pals? “Deep down, most of us want to be accepted and liked by our peers and build positive and thriving relationships with people” (page 137 of 182, 77%)
- So, dote on pals who pass the stress test: “Think about the three or four people, friends, family members or partners who have your back and then do everything in your power to continuously build and nurture those relationships” (page 154 of 182, 87%).
- Steer clear of pals who bomb the stress test: “There were certain people in my life who just made me feel … more insecure around them …. Here is the test for it: do you feel worse after having hung out or spoken to certain people? … I recommend minimizing the amount of time you spend with them, or … cutting them off completely” (page 131 of 182, 75%).
- Give an F-grade to backstabbers: “‘Talking behind someone’s back’ or to put it simply, ‘being two-faced,’ is probably the least desirable characteristic a person can have … it can lead to a lot of built-up hate and trust issues” (page 157 of 182, 89%).
- On the bright side, if people turn Judas, it could mean you’re living an A-plus life: “If people are talking about you, hating or nay-saying—assuming you are not hurting, harming, or neglecting people—it’s probably a sign that you are moving in the right direction” (page 154 of 182, 87%).
Back in university, I got blackballed. Hounded for a year, I bawled daily. But I cherished the handful of friends who showed the smallest kindness. And I fell deeply in love with the one who rescued me. Friends for life!
“What goes around comes around,” whispered the young girl persecuted on the playground. Except this time, she was a wounded adult, scrooched down as we ate lunch. But little did she know, we all get singled out sometime.