Years ago, my husband, 6-year-old son Aaron and I were at the grocery store. When we turned the corner past the canned soups and veggies aisle, someone caught Aaron’s attention. His eyes twinkled and his smile extended from ear to ear. He then began running towards someone with his arms out wide.
I looked down the aisle and didn’t recognize the beautiful forty-something-year-old blonde, but in that moment, I hated her. Who the hell is that? How dare she smile at my son! And look at her. She’s so effin’ pretty it makes me sick.
As Aaron ran towards her, my blood boiled. I peered over at Ron. He seemed fine, content and curious. Of course he’s okay with this! He probably thinks she’s cute!
I took a deep breathe in and tried to play it cool as I approached her.
“Hi. I’m Danielle. It’s nice to meet you… How do you know my son?”
The fit, dewy skinned woman with amazingly white teeth replied, “I’m Cindy. It’s nice to meet you. Ohhh, your son is just the best. I get to see him every day. I’m a lunch volunteer at his school.”
Aaron chimed in, “Ms. R helps me with my straws and helps me to recycle my stuff.”
I could feel my face turn red. I hated her even more… Not only is she happy and gorgeous, but she’s also a volunteer! How angelic of her.
When we parted ways, I started venting to Ron while searching for dino nuggets in the frozen foods section.
“How dare she. She shouldn’t just hug someone else’s kid without permission… It must be nice that she has all that time to volunteer. She must not work… That’s why she’s so effin’ bubbly.”
Ron stopped pushing the carriage. With his eyebrows scrunched he said, “What’s your problem?”
That questions hurt because I knew I had a problem, I just didn’t know exactly that problem was.
Hating on cheery, pretty, friendly lunch volunteers was not my M.O. and certainly something I wasn’t proud of.
I sheepishly replied to Ron, “I’m sorry.”
When I got home, I went for a walk and asked myself over and over again, What’s your problem?
With inward reflection, the truth came out. I hadn’t felt pretty or happy or connected to my son. I was working a lot and had let physical activity and quality family time fall to the wayside. I was insecure about my body, relationships and life.
Looking back, that experience at the grocery store scared the crap out of me. I never wanted to hate someone again (especially for being nice!) and so I put together an action plan. I started saying ‘no’ to a few extra tasks at work to make more time to focus on myself and the family. I went back to the gym to get my energy level up and regain confidence in my skin. I got involved at my son’s school so I could receive the love and pride that comes with volunteer work.
A few months later, I saw Ms. R at the gym. My mind didn’t choose to spew nasty comments or judgements. Instead, a sense of calm swept through me. I whispered from a distance “thank you,” smiled and went on with my workout.
Thanks to years of inner work, I no longer find myself getting jealous like I used to. It takes time, but emotional balance is possible and wow does it feel amazing.
The next time you find yourself hating on someone, how can you use the experience as a mirror moment to look at yourself?
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PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you along your self-love journey: “I release all the negative thoughts about myself and replace them with love.”
PPS – Are you spending your time hyper-focusing on someone in a not-so-healthy way? Perhaps out of spite or jealousy? Spend a few minutes journaling. Here’s a prompt: Write about ‘the person’ in your life who makes your blood boil. What drives you nuts about them? Review your notes. Then, imagine this person was put on your life path for a purpose. What can you learn from this person? What action plan can you put together to become a better version of yourself?