I try to be friends with everyone. I want everyone to like me, and it happens most of the time. But occasionally, a connection goes sour, and it feels emotionally corrosive in the worst way possible. I ruminate. I can’t focus. A million alternative scenarios run through my head about how things could have gone, even though it’s useless because nobody has ever invented a time machine. I recently went through a situation where that happened, I am writing to share some ways to turn broken rapport (and heartbreak) into growth. Here goes…
There is a famous speaker in personal development whose work I have deeply admired since 2013. In fact, aside from Tony Robbins, I had respected him more than anyone else in the industry. I have spent entire afternoons watching his talks and vlogs. His speeches are deeply moving and have touched me in a way that hardly anyone else’s work ever has. I had the good fortune of meeting this man about a year ago, and two months ago he approached me to ask for nutritional assistance. My idol now wanted to be my client! I was over the moon!
Recently he put on a large event and asked me to cater just his meals. He loved my food. After the first lunch, he thanked me at length in front of his audience. He called me a magician and told me that I was so talented. He expressed to me that he hoped to have a lifelong working relationship with me. Later in the event, he spoke to the audience about the need to charge very well for their services.
However, he had never set a price upfront, and told me just to ask for what I thought was a fair price after the event was over. A friend of his had warned me that he expects great deals. But following the advice he gave at the seminar, I stated what I felt was a premium but fair price. It was a short conversation. He was shocked and angered. He paid me the money I requested but refused to discuss it, even to resolve the issue when I offered a refund. He has cut me out and may never speak to me again.
I was burning and I felt crushed. I wanted to be close to this man so badly. The person I had respected the most now despised me. I wanted to be anyone but myself. It took me almost a week and a lot of cookies to start to feel good again, but this situation has been huge for my growth. If you find yourself in a similar situation, this is for you.
(1) Before you do anything for anyone, be clear about your expectations ahead of time.
(2) Never put anyone on a pedestal. If you spend enough time with anyone, something about that person will disappoint you. Irrespective of fame or reputation, he or she can be a poor influence on your life. And more often than not, the things you admire about a person were the result of many hours of hard work- and you can do that yourself.
Along the same lines, you do not become a worthier person by association. If you seek out the admiration of high-status people to feel good about yourself, you probably don’t respect yourself enough.
(3) People who respect themselves don’t have the time or bandwidth to fixate on what other people think of them. They are focused on living their own lives to their fullest. And when you are focused and passionate about the things you care about, people will respect you.
(4) The key to self-respect is progress. Focus your life on growth and contribution. If you find yourself questioning whether you are good enough, chances are, you aren’t living up to your potential. And when you are in the mode of giving and serving out of genuine concern, you will naturally respect yourself. The question of your worthiness will not even arise.
(5) Sometimes being liked and being respected are at odds. This took me a long time to understand. Be clear on how you want people to treat you and think of you. Treat and think of yourself that way. When you assert a boundary, some people will be repelled by it. That’s okay.
(6) Be kind to yourself. In the times when you feel the worst about yourself, self-care feels unnatural- but it is critical. Feed yourself the best, healthiest food you can find. Go to the gym regularly or take your favorite fitness class. Practice meditation, and give yourself plenty of time with friends.
Moreover, self-blame is easy when you experience conflict. Do your best to see both sides to a situation, and practice forgiveness. If you can resolve a situation amicably, do so! But if that does not happen, see what you can learn from it and ask yourself how you can become even better. Then give yourself permission to move on.
(7) If you have a hard time letting go, try to imagine your best-case-scenario life, five years into the future. Will you care about this episode? If you practice self-care, chances are, you won’t. Envision this and bring it into the present.
(8) Ask yourself how your situation can be the best thing that ever happened to you. This powerful reframe can give you excellent momentum in the right direction, no matter what you are going through.
Remember that the school of life teaches lessons that no class, seminar, or book can teach you- but it’s up to you to see them.