I once allowed a man to tell me that I am a difficult person to be in a relationship with. At this moment, or more accurately several moments later when I was able to breathe through the pain of the statement, I was able to swallow down the defensive comments and consider how I can best approach this. 

I know that I am usually reactive and feel pain when something said to me resonates some truth. Thoughts that I may be difficult spiraled into worrying I will be deemed unworthy, unlovable, or incomplete. It took a few days to think about this and come up with my own perspective of his comment. After much reflection and self-doubt, I realized something to be undeniably accurate…

The truth is, I AM DIFFICULT.

I am outspoken, independent, and assertive. I certainly don’t shy away from a good debate, but this seems to be something that others can feel overwhelmed by at times. I began to realize that his statement was less about acknowledging a perceived flaw in me and more about his own self-doubts. The problem is, I was allowing him to shrug accountability and devalue me in this moment for things that I value about myself because he was uncomfortable.

When we try to change the truth that someone else believes we are ultimately fighting ourselves. A steadfast belief that is challenged often leads to conflict and frustration if we are not aware of the insecurities the other person has or have not processed our own. Defensiveness and harmful words begin to drive us further down the rabbit hole of shame, guilt, and hopelessness if we do not stop to see the bigger picture.

When we allow for others to put us down, we devalue ourselves and send a message that our emotions and actions can be defined by them.

I began to acknowledge was that his words had very little to do with me and more to do with his own self-worth. What I believe to be true in that moment is he felt inadequate to respond to me, doubting his own place in our relationship, struggling with our vastly different personalities. I began to see things through a lens of compassion and talked with him about his frustrations, his doubts, and his fears. The connection and communication improved based on my ability to let go and accept that his needs were different than mine. We left this conversation with a better understanding of who we each are individually. I left the relationship not long after this, allowing myself to feel freedom over loss and self-love over trying to rescue someone who was not willing to work through their own issues.

What we allow others to tell us can become a perception of who we are, our individual worth, and lead to resentments. We can also allow those same statements to give us direction, self-reflection, and solidify traits that we feel make us authentic to our true selves. Yes, I am difficult. Yes, it takes a strong person to be in any relationship with me. What I will allow is compassion and compromise in my relationship. What I will no longer allow is to feel shamed in who I am or compromise the strengths I value.