Someone screamed at me recently to shut up. Now, for sure I was trying to make a point at that very moment. But someone screaming those words at me really made me stop and think: is this their issue or mine?

Interestingly, these words came at a time when I’ve been thinking a lot about respect.

In my business life, I try (most times—not always!) to find a way to show respect for those on the other side of my cases. But, one of the things I have found to be most difficult in life is being around people for whom I feel little respect. More specifically, I find it difficult to control my own behavior around those I don’t respect.

There are many reasons why I might find it hard to respect someone. But, whatever the reason, at some point it’s fairly likely that this person will say something that pisses me off (or vice versa). Then, after I’ve lost my s***, I ruminate about the interaction and wish over and over again I had kept my cool.

Yes, this person’s words or actions upset me. But, how I respond to my emotions is my responsibility. It’s how I show myself respect.

When we lose our “cool” we are more focused on our own physical reaction (anger, tears, etc) and their stupid words, rather than controlling our own emotions. Because the truth is, when we let someone get to us, we often feel shame. Focusing on managing our own emotions and how we want to leave the conversation should be paramount.

Also, what does “winning” look like in those conversations? Putting the other person down, saying mean things to them or to others about them, only feels good in the moment. It does not advance my own life ball and that’s all I have control over. Again, respect, compassion and love for me means I don’t have to “win” because I’m good … I’m ok in my space, and it frees me from the impulse to compete or “say back” with others.

Finally, I’m also learning (and you can learn at my ripe old age!), that we can’t change anyone’s mind about us. And, I don’t need to. But I also have no interest (nor the energy) to change someone’s negative narrative about me. I will always be there for people. I will always try (operative word) to do the right thing, and I will always make mistakes. But, I will also always respect and love myself. If others jump on the bandwagon, great. If not, then not.

I know it’s cliche, but life is short. Don’t spend it looking back. Respect yourself, and all other good things will follow (and try not to say “shut up” to other people! LOL)