A husband and wife are eating dinner.
“The casserole is burned,” she says without thinking. It is a statement of fact. She noticed and the words just come.
“You sometimes burn casserole,” he says.
“I don’t make that many cooking mistakes, ” she says. “Not like your cake collapse of 2012.”
They are now into a fight. What happened?
Well, he took her initial statement, “The casserole is burned,” to mean, “You can’t cook well enough.” Then, because he felt someone considered him not good enough, he had to show that other people make mistakes too.
She took the statement, “You sometimes burn casserole,” to mean, “You don’t cook well enough either, and you do it on a regular basis.” To which she felt the need to defend herself and point out someone else’s mistake so that she could feel normal. After all, all people make mistakes. He has, so he shouldn’t be judging her. But he is likely going to see it as an attack again.
At this point, I bet you are wondering, “Who still eats casserole?” “What kind of casserole?” “Was it vegan?”
But the point is different. So many times when we have a disagreement with someone, both parties are simply trying not to look like failures. So many of us feel that others don’t find us good enough (because we don’t feel good enough) that we spend a lot of time defending ourselves in ways that come across as attacks. In this situation, no one really thought the other wasn’t good enough. They were just trying to normalize.
So we basically have a situation in which everyone is defending themselves from attack, yet no one is attacking.
When we realize that so much of what someone says isn’t about us, it is about them, it gives us freedom. So many of us are not as judged as we worry about being. I don’t know your circles and what the people in them are like, but I know that I have seen the above situation play out in people’s lives many times. (“Really? With casserole?”) I’ve seen people go back and forth merely trying to look good. Next time you are in a disagreement with someone, it’s something to consider. They probably aren’t against you at all, just feeling insecure. Maybe you can help, maybe you can’t, but just to be aware can work wonders.
May God bless your day.
P.S. They could have changed it around by laughing at the Great Cake Collapse of 2012. That would also make a good children’s book.