The Response

In The Spring Anchor

Are you anchored in? I hope so.

I really didn’t want to share with you what you’re about to read.

Keep reading, and you’ll see why.

Even though all of my personal friends already know this story, I think that 90% of the people reading this probably don’t.

As they say, some stories just need to be told. And even though it might not seem like it at first, this story you’re about to read has a positive ending–I promise.

It’s actually in the ending where the real story begins.

The 4th of July “Fireworks”

Last month (on the 4th of July to be specific), I drove into a local West Los Angeles grocery store to pick up some food before I went for a quick morning workout.

I chose to stop at a very “upscale” grocery store on the way to my gym because I noticed that the parking lot was relatively empty, and it would be easy for me to grab my stuff and then get to the gym.

That’s when it happened.

As I was walking into the store, I noticed a very well-dressed blonde woman in her upper 40’s/low 50’s (I’m guessing) parked nearby in newer model BMW.

For some reason, her eyes were completely locked-in on me as I walked closer to the entrance to the store. You know that creepy feeling when you know that someone is staring at you? I felt it, so in order to break the awkwardness in my mind, I made eye-contact with her and smiled.

That’s when she rolled down her car window and said the following to me:

“Why are you going into that store, nigger? You know that you can’t afford anything inside of there. You need to go back to Africa and let us celebrate this country in peace, you filthy monkey. You niggers make me sick.”

Then she spit at me (and missed), and drove off.

Whoa.

The Response

In 39 years of life, I’ve definitely experienced plenty of racism, but nothing that was as in-my-face as this situation.

Did I fall into a time warp and get transported to the 1950’s deep south? I’m still living in the very progressive West Los Angeles area, and it’s still 2014, right?

So, why am I sharing this with you guys?

Is it because I want to make you aware that racism is alive and well in our country?

Nope, that’s not it. You already knew that anyway.

We need to dig so much deeper than that.

I want to talk about the response to this situation.

When I shared this unfortunate incident with some of my friends and coworkers, I noticed a very disturbing trend in their responses.

“Did you get her license plate number? You need to report her to the police and get her arrested!” (Me: Yeah, because I’m sure that the LAPD is going to deploy their resources to track down “name-callers” who hurl insults out of their car windows.)

“Dude, I hope that you cursed her out for disrespecting you like that.” (Me: What would that prove, exactly?)

“If that happened to me, I would have dragged that bitch out of her car and beat her ass in that parking lot.” (This one doesn’t even warrant a response.)

We really do have a long way to go with this positivity stuff, don’t we? Afterward, I couldn’t help but to feel a little down in the dumps about this situation.

I wasn’t sad for me, though.

Specifically, I’m sad for the people who will read this story, or experience something similar to it, and use it as an excuse to lose their faith in humanity, or worse, to become part of the problem that many of us are trying to solve.

I can promise you that I will never give away that kind of power to some random lady in a grocery store parking lot who I will never see again. That power is too precious, and she is not even within a million miles of deserving it.

So, what was my response to that woman in the parking lot?

There wasn’t one. I did absolutely nothing.

Here’s why.

The Anchor: Values Over Emotions

I don’t expect everyone reading this to understand the critical point that I’m about to make, but if you do, I can promise you that it will change your life.

In fact, besides giving that woman a huge gift (or more accurately, giving that huge gift to myself), this concept was the one thing that gave me peace in that grocery store parking lot.

Here it is:

Always choose your values over your emotions.

This is pretty deep, and it’s important to fully understand this concept.

Here’s the sad truth about our emotions: If you allow them to take over the steering wheel of your life, they will happily drive you off the cliff on a near-daily basis.

For example:

Someone disrespects you? It’s time to curse that fool out and start acting ignorant.

Someone steps on your brand-new white sneakers in the nightclub? Get ready to beat his ass.

Someone verbally assaults you in a grocery store parking lot? Now, it’s really about to be on.

Insanity. 

There’s a much better way, and it all starts with your values.

Your values are like an anchor that will always keep you grounded in sanity when your emotions are trying to do the opposite.

Personally speaking, here are the three values that keep me anchored in, always:

1) I will not allow another person to ever affect my happiness or steal my joy.

2) I always have the power to determine my reaction to anything.

3) I will always be the man that my mama and daddy raised me to be (yes, even as a grown-ass 39-year old man, this value will never change until the day I die.)

I cannot underestimate the power of having values, because they will “anchor you in” when the world consistently tries to mess with you. They will keep you sane when your emotions are urging you to act crazy. Most of all, they keep you in a position to always create positive outcomes even when you don’t believe that a positive outcome exists.

So, even when I was in the depths of the worst emotional burnout of my life last month, my values anchored me in when I needed them the most in that grocery store parking lot.

But enough about me. Now, it’s time for me to ask you a few personal questions:

What do you value?

What did your mama and daddy teach you?

If you’re parent reading these words, what values are you teaching your kids?

Marinate in that for a minute, and don’t come up for air until you fully know what you value.

Don’t Get it Twisted

I’m sure that there’s someone out there reading this and thinking, “oh okay…are you telling me that the positive response to someone treating you like crap is to do nothing?”

Absolutely not.

Unless you’re new here, you know me better than that, right? I’ve said it before on this blog, but I’ll happily say it again:

If you’re dealing with a bully at work, you need to stand up for yourself and your career.

If you have a toxic person in your life (and I don’t care who it is), you need to walk away and not look back.

If you’re allowing your significant other to treat you like a second-class citizen in your own home, you need to stop being a doormat and do something about it.

No, this isn’t about not responding to negativity, this is about how we respond to that negativity.

We need to do better than the pitiful response of dealing with disrespect by being even more disrespectful, or worse, dealing with all of our problems by “fighting fire with fire.” Seriously, have you ever seen a fireman run into a burning house with a flamethrower in his hand?

I haven’t.

So, on July 4, 2014 when I was verbally attacked by a stranger, I didn’t curse her out. I didn’t attempt to “teach her a lesson” that she wasn’t willing to hear and wasn’t ready to learn. I didn’t throw rocks at her car as she cowardly drove away.

Instead (after mentally working through the initial shock that this actually just happened), I broke my eye-contact with her and kept walking into the store to get what I needed. In other words, I leaned on my values and used them to keep me anchored in.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t have a perfect record of doing this.

I’ve still slipped up numerous times and have said and done things that I’m not very proud of. The good news is that those instances are very rare these days, and it’s all because I clearly know what I value.

Best of all, my values make me strong by reminding me of my power.

Yes, you are the one with the power. You are the one who can choose your values over your emotions at any time. You are the one who can shine a light instead of making the world a darker place.

That’s why this story has a happy ending, because the power to create a more positive world is 100% up to us. And if you’re not aware–that power shines through in our responses to the things and people that aren’t so positive.

The only question is: Next time you’re challenged by those things, what will your response be?

Your Turn

How do you keep it together in the face of rudeness, disrespect, or outright hostility? Are you driven more by your values or your emotions? Either way, jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola

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Comments

  1. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome, Diane!

    • Shola, I just want to say thank you. I really look forward to reading your blog every Monday. It helps me to put a lot of things in perspective and really help me make it through the week. It makes me reflect on a lot of the choices that I have made in my life. So I just really want to say, “Thank you.”

      • You are so welcome, Latonya! It’s an honor to know that you allow me to have a place in your Monday morning routine, and that’s not an honor that I take lightly. If anything, I should be the one thanking you! 🙂

  2. Shola,
    It brought tears to my eyes reading how you were treated. I wish I was there to have given you a hug. I really admire how you handled yourself in such an amazingly challenging encounter. I am learning & practicing to choose PEACE in all situations. I am doing this for myself & to be an example to my two children & because the world needs it. It is a practice though & sometimes I slip up & my emotions take over, especially in the face of injustices. Thank you for sharing your story & know that there are others who share similar values. The world is a better place with you in it! Blessings on your journey.
    Laurie

    • I agree.. this is sad it happened to Shola.. but the amazing thing about him, is his positive mental attitude. He has ‘reprogrammed’ himself in looking at everything in a positive light and was spot on, as to how to handle this. Laurie, remember that us women put emotion towards everything and I do feel strongly that it is more difficult for us to not have emotions play a part. Men to think with pure logic. I try to keep that in mind when dealing with EDP’s. It is not easy.. but something I strive towards!

    • Laurie, you are so sweet! I’ll take a virtual hug from you in the meantime :). Just like you, I’m practicing to choose peace in all situations too. The drama of fighting fire with fire is completely useless, and I also want my two little girls to learn that there are MUCH better ways to deal with rudeness and incivility. Don’t get me wrong though–I slip up too and let my emotions take over, but the key is to keep getting better at my response each and every day. Thanks so much for the kind words!

  3. Wow.. interesting you posted this. I had a similar incident a few weeks ago at the local Walmart. This woman and her daughter was standing in line to pay for a few items. Her mother, whom already paid for a basket full of items asked if she could wait outside the garden area entrance, where the other lady, behind me, was paying for a few things. The much older Walmart door greeter gentleman, sitting by the exit, asked to see the mothers basket to verify her purchases on her receipt. The other woman broke out of line and verbally attacked the man checking the receipt saying he was ‘judging’ the mother accusing her of stealing, and they had never been stopped before today. She also told him he better check every receipt of ever customer leaving that area, from now on, to satisfy her. I was shocked and the man was shaking from head to toe in fear. It hurt my feelings seeing her attack him in this manner. The cashier kindly explained that it is store policy to check anyone’s receipt of those that did not pay at this back register. She verbally attacked the cashier stating it was ‘none of her business’. It shook up too. I told the cashier and the gentleman to have a wonderful afternoon but I do not think quick enough on my feet and my response to how I should have handled it came later that day. I should have said to her that it makes me feel safe when my receipt is checked, paying elsewhere, knowing Walmart is protecting their customer care by doing so. I learned next time to turn someones ugly behavior, in this type of situation, to a positive response. Yes, you did guess it.. different ethnicity was part of the reason this happened. What I do not get, is society wants to be treated the ‘same’ but when one person does what they are supposed to do, it is ammo for the other to ‘segregate’ themself not realizing they are doing this. It did upset as yes, my parents taught me to treat others as equals and ‘not judge’. Yes, I do have strong values to the point of perusing ways to separate myself from the toxic EDP’s I do work with. (just trying to hang in there for a phone call saying ‘yes’ from one of my job interviews) I value myself and my abilities to be the best in my career choice that I can be.. finding that passion and love for what I do once more. If I have a strong positive thinking pattern this leads to being able to be successful in helping others!

    • Thanks for sharing Kristen! One thing is for sure, is that there are knuckleheads in every race, and I’m sorry and embarrassed that the Walmart greeter had to deal with that silliness. Equally as important though, there are so many good, level-headed, and positive people out there who would never treat that greeter like that. It gives me so much peace of mind knowing that there are SO many more people like that, rather than people who would think that it’s okay to treat a greeter with disrespect for no good reason. Also, good for you for extending some much-needed kindness to the greeter too! Fingers crossed on your job interviews!

      • Thank you Shola! I just wish and pray daily that company, I keep interviewing for to move up to state level, will call and give me that so powerful ‘yes’ so I can turn in my letter of resignation and get out of this miserable toxic workplace! I am resented and hated by these women and my patience is wearing so thin.. as I am so sadly miserable here. I am on one income, just bought my first home, so have no choice but endure this garbage until I find another job! I am trying so hard to hang in there. I am blamed for the changes the company made, due to their cruel bullying and I am the ‘scapegoat’ now. Hang by a string, Kristen

        • Oh.. BTW.. this blog is one of those ‘golden nuggets’ keeping me going, as I so enjoy my Monday morning emails of your new entries and tips! So thankful! I know once I am in a better working situation, will still keep up to date on your blog.. as it teaching some of the best ways at handling EDP’s in all areas of life!

  4. I’m very sad hearing what you went through. I’m a white man and I know very well that racism is alive and unfortunately well in the USA. But I see and feel racism toward me as well. I get pushed off the sidewalk when several blacks walk past me. I dare not make anything out of it with them otherwise I’m outnumbered and won’t have a chance. I live in a neighborhood where white people are outnumbered. There are blacks who travel in groups and have fun by knocking out people with a single blow just for fun. I’ve seen many of these instances on video, and have yet to see a black group knock out a black person. My car was broken into in a black neighborhood. My car has been vandalized in a black neighborhood. There have been numerous robberies and shootings in restaurants in my area. IN ALL CASES Blacks were arrested and the victim was white. On more than one occasion, I’ve been called a “White M/F”. That’s a racial slur if I’ve ever heard one, I don’t use the N word, but if I did I’d be called a racist. After so many issues, I do lock my car when blacks approach because I fear for my safety. I was always taught to respect people, but today If I don’t get respect, I can’t freely give it. So, basically, I put black youths all in the same category, and therefore when I’m close, I’m in a defensive mode. Unfortunately, I have to put all black youth into the same category…use the same common denominator. I cannot afford to bet my life, my family’s safety, or my possessions on the “chance” that this time….I’ll be ok. My writing this is not intended to enrage you but to let you know that I feel much as you do. Rest assured, that in all my negative contacts I walked away saying nothing. I didn’t let my emotions get the better of me. But as I think back, it’s not because it was the right things to do, It was to keep me safe. Be well and God bless you for your wonderful work.

    • The majority group will continually perform acts of assertion to test their level of dominance. Most people want to belong to the most successful group and people use race as a way of identifying themselves as part of a group, mainly because it is the most obvious. I believe the reason you see “all black youths” as the problem is not because you are white and they are black. It is because they are young; they have realized the power of belonging to a majority and are testing their boundaries. Power corrupts and it does not care about the color of your skin. You are finding it difficult dealing with this prejudice. I can relate. I get stared at, turned down for jobs, any way in which a human being can be made to suffer an indignity without being physically harmed. You and your family are experiencing what minorities feel from birth. And you are surprised.

      Everyone experiences prejudice in one form or another throughout their lives. It is always a case of the haves versus the have-nots. The important point to remember is that this is not about you being white or them being black. It is about power and the struggle to get it, maintain it, and grow it.

      We use our senses to tell us about world; to notice differences and to see sameness. We evaluate this information and make judgments based upon past experience, either personal or learned from those who raised us.

      Physical and cultural differences create diversity. And diversity is what makes our species so special; it is the basis of evolution. So, on one hand you have the majority who band together by “sameness”, and on the other, diversity, which is the thing that enables our survival; two dynamic forces at opposite ends. You can also look at it academically as order and chaos. And “prejudice” – if we do not use the term towards people – helps keep us alive, as well. I am more prejudiced towards grass than gravel, especially when it comes to sitting or running barefoot.

      My point is that although we may have instinctual reasons for our behaviors, as species we can change; we can evolve. I believe that we have an obligation to transcend this paradigm; to discover a way to accept diversity and see past prejudice. It is necessary for our survival.

      This blog is about how we can make those course corrections on a personal level. When we hear about cops abusing citizens it is a story about power corrupting on a personal level, not about race. When that woman was yelling at Shola from her car, she was making a statement about what she perceived as a threat to her power status; which had nothing to do with Shola. He was just buying groceries. He reacted the only way a rational and evolved human being would.

      We have to remember that we are all human beings and there are a whole load of things that make us different from one another; our skin color is just one of the many obvious ones. And once you understand what prejudice is – where it comes from – it makes dealing with it a great deal easier. Groups do not feel prejudice, people do, unless human beings have suddenly developed the ability to “hive mind”. Therefore, it is an individual’s responsibility with which to deal. We as individuals decide to join groups. If you want to be “white” then you subscribe yourself to all the connotations that go along with it. I decided long ago not to “join a race”, though many have tried to place me in one box or another. I’ve never been much of a follower, anyway.

      Prejudice starts – and stops – with you. Think about it. It is you that sees yourself as white. All of your resulting comments are derived from that conclusion. Have you tried not seeing yourself that way? It might change your attitude, and in turn, change your life as well as that of those around you.

    • Hey Ken, no worries–your comment didn’t enrage me in the least. We all have to live by our truth, and I am in no place to tell you how you should live your life. What I can say is that I don’t care who’s doing the bullying–white people, black people, men, women…it doesn’t matter because it’s all not okay. There is no justification for what the lady did to me in the parking lot, and there’s no justification for kids knocking out unsuspecting people with one punch. It’s all sickening. For me, I can’t spend my time getting wrapped up in the problems–I need to focus on the solutions. Specifically, I need to ensure that I’m living by the right example. That might not stop random people from dropping “N-bombs” on me in a parking lot, or stop some unruly kids from acting violently, but at least I’m committed to living a positive life that other people can follow. Thanks for your honest and real comment–it is appreciated!

  5. Shola, I am so sorry that happened to you. My first response was thinking if I had been there with you I would have gone up to that lady and given her a piece of my mind because I wouldn’t want her disrespecting my friend that way. I can see that your way is better and just walk away and let it go and also I can see Ken’s point of view with trying to stay safe instead of standing up for yourself. Racism is alive and well in the USA definitely or maybe we could say discrimination is alive and well whether you’re male or female, black, white, brown, elderly, a child, or anything. I guess we just all need to try to be kind.

    • Just for a moment. Let’s say that A black man yelled at me and told me to “get the F out of his hood” I’m a white guy. If I would talk back and stand my ground, I might be dead where I stand. I’m non confrontational by nature so that would never happen. But under those circumstances I would be placing myself in harms way.

      • Ken, what I do not get is that most, not all, but most black folks segregate themselves without realizing it. I have many black colleagues that are absolutely wonderful and would give me the shirt off their back any old day. However, sadly, there are many black folks that want that title ‘African American’ but still want to be considered a normal part of society.. yet they get enraged at the drop of a hat is anything or anyone disturbs ‘their’ culture. Yes, one is African American if they came from Africa and then obtained citizenship here or first generation from parents from Africa. I get that.. but I do not go around saying I am ‘Irish-German American’.. we are ALL Americans if born here, raised here. I think that has a lot to do with the racism from whites to blacks to whites. Like you, when an outraged person in public acts the ‘fool’ I am so afraid to speak up. Now days, many angry people, not happy with life and out to hurt others of the opposite race, carry a gun and will simply attack or worse, shoot someone for taking a stand. That is a HUGE problem we are now facing. It is like the lady that verbally attacked those workers at Walmart. I was afraid to speak up with fear she could have a gun and shoot me dead. We should not have to live in a society with this fear carried with us everywhere. However, media influence continually adds ‘fuel’ to the fire keeping us this way. I think there is a much deeper issue going on here. How did we become this way as Americans? That is the scary part. Also, sadly EVERY culture has enslaved another culture throughout history.. that is a fact in itself. Shola, I do not feel afraid to share this feeling/opinion here, because I truly feel you got this question answered and can share your knowledge with us? Why to the ‘African Americans’ hold such a grudge against the ‘white man’ for something that happened many years ago, we are NOT responsible for this day in age and cannot let it just go.. wanting to live in harmony with each other? I have a deep rooted feeling that the source of their anger is from the days of slavery? Why does the rest of the world cultures not hold such a grudge? My grandmother, now deceased, was raped and almost killed multiple times escaping Germany to make it to North America by Nazi’s; as she escaped, a military nurse at that. Did she hold a grudge through her life towards Nazi Germany? NO.. she did not!

        • Kristen, to be completely honest, your comment is exactly why I was worried about posting this blog post in the first place. This blog post isn’t about racism or race-relations. This is simply a blog post about how to positively respond in the face of ugliness, hostility, and hate.

          I’m very hesitant to turn this blog post into a debate on the topic of race (there are plenty of sites on the internet for that), but here’s what I will say: Using the words “most” or “many” to describe a group of people is not a good idea. If I told you that “most white folks are closeted racists who secretly hate black people without even knowing it,” you’d probably be offended by that. And I’m assuming that you’d be offended because you feel that statement isn’t true (and it isn’t.) It’s the same thing when I read your comment that “most black folks segregate themselves without even knowing it” or “African Americans hold such a grudge against the white man.” That’s simply not true. I don’t act or think that way, and neither do any of my black friends and family. Of course there are people in every race, in every religion, in every city, and in every country who act like knuckleheads–I get that. But to say that “most” or “many” people act in a certain way, just doesn’t make any sense to me.

          Most importantly, this is a blog post about helping others to respond positively when dealing with in-your-face hostility, and that’s the reason why I shared my July 4th story. The last thing that I want is for that message to be lost in another internet race discussion.

          • Kristen Quinn says:

            Shola, I am not offended, but thankful you opened up and shared. You are spot on and I was unsure how to share my inner feelings, so went with honesty. This just shows my ignorant, narrow minded view point. Not an excuse here, but I do live in TN and see these issues a lot. I am so thankful for your perspective, as it is opening my mind up to learning.. something I love to do and better my positive mental outlook on life. I am thankful you pointed out those ‘key’ words to me in my response on here. Helps me re-evaluate how I think about world issues. I know some of my response is valid, some of it… not so much! I actually stayed up very very late last night digging up research on the recent events in Ferguson, MO and now understand why the people there are so upset. This young man was doing NOTHING wrong to have his life taken from him. Before I listened to the media and had a narrow minded view of it all. After doing extensive reading and watching videos people took about the event that occurred.. I cried for them.. for that family. I realized in me last night, how sad it is that we all, at times (not always) but at times, get opinionated for the wrong reasons. Perspective is different for everyone, through everyone’s eyes in seeing this world. For that, I am going to work at keeping myself in check so that I do not have a narrow minded view of the world, but a more diverse idea that we all are a part of the problem and the solution. I do have to admit, after my recent mission trip, which changed me for the better, I find myself more open to learning more about people.. and about my own personal weaknesses causing me to not be open to learning about others!

    • Thanks Kristin! You know what’s funny? I’d be more likely to lose my cool if I saw someone treating my friend poorly, than if I was being treated poorly myself. I really don’t take this stuff personally (after all, it’s not like the lady in the parking lot actually knows who I am), but seeing someone I care about get hurt would really bother me. In the end, you said it best–we just need to be kinder to each other. And I can promise that I’ll be spreading that message along for as long as I live!

  6. Good for you Shola…I too was called a name by a complete stranger while I was out and about with my girlfriends on July 26th to be exact. I couldn’t for the life of me get mad and curse the stranger out. My own reaction really threw me for a loop. I actually texted one of girlfriends I was out with later the next day to tell her how I heard the stranger call me a name and I couldn’t believe my reaction was silence and not caring. My girlfriend’s response was “That’s growth!”…she knows I can black out and curse people out in a minute no matter how much bigger they are than me. I know I say this phrase frequently but this “personal growth journey” has really taught me that when people say or do mean things it has nothing to do with me but everything to do with their inner demons and when I reflect on that I can’t help but have compassion for them. I think of the quote “hurt people hurt people”…I will say when someone calls me a name ( not that it happens often lol) it is getting harder and harder for me to react negatively because I can’t get myself to believe the words their spewing thus I don’t get upset. The saying “it’s not what happens to you but your reaction to what happens to you that matters” seems is so true! This is a little off topic but I have really been noticing how nice people (strangers in particular) are to me they smile, they laugh, they joke with me, and give me free stuff lol…Striving each day to live a life of gratitude, unconditional love (for myself and others), and positivity is quite heavenly 🙂

    • Yes, PhillyL! Hurt people, hurt people! The person who said that hurtful thing to you, and the lady who said the hurtful things to me, are both clearly dealing with some serious demons. And you’re right, it is growth to not act a fool in those situations, and instead, walk away with your head held high. Is it easy? Not always. But with practice, it gets easier every single day. In the end, it’s my values that keep me grounded, sane, and conscious of making the right reaction. I’m glad you’re with me on this!

  7. Kathleen Carey says:

    Shola,

    Whoa is right. As much as we would like to think those sentiments don’t exist anymore, we are so vehemently reminded. Not that I have personal experience but I continue to be stunned by the unadulterated hate, especially in LA – we’re supposed to be more progressive. Then again, hate doesn’t only live in the south, many people just hide it in public. I agree with your response. It’s not like you were going to change her mind in that parking lot, a negative response would only have reinforced her beliefs. Walking in that store and buying those expensive items was better than anything!

    My mama and daddy taught me the golden rule. No matter what their own beliefs were, they did not try to influence or alter my beliefs even if they went against theirs. I had a right to be me, as everyone does but not to the extent of being hateful – kindness was always the better way. You may not understand something however, you at least must give the opportunity for someone to show their not a jerk, just think differently. If they are a jerk, I just walk away. Nothing worse than trying to change someone’s mind who can’t see beyond their own negative thoughts.

    Keep being you!
    Kat

    • Kat, you’re so right–cursing that lady out in the parking lot would have accomplished nothing but to reinforce her twisted beliefs. In fact, the best revenge was to continue doing what I was already doing: Walking into the store to buy my stuff. Also, props to your mama and daddy for raising a brilliant woman who clearly “gets it” when it comes to how to treat people. Kindness is the better way!

  8. What a great post Shola. It’s shocking that people feel the need to behave that way….in many respects I feel incredibly sad for the lady that abused you, it must be pretty awful walking life in her shoes!! Unfortunately we all come across the ‘haters’ from time to time & the best way to deal with it is with dignity and self respect. Something I saw the other day was so relevant….’You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world but there’s always going to be someone who hates peaches’!! Have a great day and thanks for your fabulous positivity

    • I’m so with you, Suzie. Can you imagine what it must be like to carry around that hate in her heart 24/7? On a positive note, if that didn’t happen to me last month, I wouldn’t have been able to write a blog post about how to respond to this type of ignorance with positivity (so, I guess that I owe her a belated thanks ;)) And I love that peach quote! Truthfully, it is impossible to avoid hate 100% of the time in our lives, that’s why it is so important that we have a positive response when we encounter it. Thanks for your comment!

  9. Oh crap Shola, I took this like a sucker punch to my stomach. This is so painful to hear, that there are people out there who treat others this way, and in particular that it happened to you. In my case, my family examples are negative examples. I vowed when I was young, I would not behave as my parents behaved. My father and his family had hate talk for non-whites, gays, and “women’s libbers”, or even any woman who had the nerve to hold a job outside the home, or get a college degree. My mother was an emotional wreck, and yelled and screamed all day at her family, the neighbors, people in shops, always over imagined slights. When I think of the woman who verbally abused you, I think of my mother: Totally off her rocker , angry, abusive, probably hits her kids and any man dumb enough to hang around with her. Having any kind of unfounded, uncontrollable hate for strangers is a sign of mental illness, and if you try to retaliate or reason with such a person, you very well may be a target for violence. I am proud of you and I respect you more than ever Shola, for sticking to your values.

    • Donna, I couldn’t agree more with your mental illness point. Anyone who spews uncontrolled hate toward strangers is definitely someone who could use some professional help in a hurry. On a different note, it is amazing to me to see how you were able to grow up with parents like yours (please know that I mean that with all due respect), and still come out of it with a completely opposite of their mentality. Keep up the amazing work, and thanks for being an incredible example for all of us to follow!

  10. Shola – congratulations on your bravery! Some people may look at my response and be totally confused, irritated, or maybe even upset. I am congratulating you because it takes courage and strength to know when to do “nothing.” It is impossible to control other people, but all of the possibilities are within us to control what it is that we do and say. The courage that you displayed was note-worthy, not because you choose to behave in a positive way in public, but because you chose to keep your power and not allow someone else to take that power away from you. When we behave in the manner in which someone else wants us to behave – especially in a negative way, we relinquish our power over to them, and thereby, without giving it a second thought, become their powerless puppets. They pull the strings, and we move according to how they pull them. However, you kept your power by simply remaining silent – choosing instead to ignore ignorance, when the majority of people would have lost total control and given the antagonizer/puppeteer total control. We must remember that puppeteers loooooooove when their puppet’s movements go according to their plans – it gives them great satisfaction. Ignorance is as ignorance does, but behaving in like manner doesn’t make you the brave one or the hero – it simply makes you …… ignorant. This is an extremely difficult lesson to learn, because as humans we want to protect ourselves – physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, etc., etc., and when someone or something threatens our safety zones, we immediately want to react. It may take a lifetime to build character that is truly desirable to ourselves, as well as to others, but a split second to destroy it all. We have to keep in mind that people are who they are, and they will behave in like manner – just as we are who we are, and we must do the same – despite the odds against us. ~ I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails… Author – Jimmy Dean.

    • Renee, this comment is just ridiculously brilliant in so many ways! It took me way too long to realize that it is courageous, not cowardly, to respond to hate by walking away instead of engaging in it. Yes, all puppeteers LOVE to see their puppets dance–it gives them a feeling of control that is intoxicating to them. That’s why the best reaction is to walk away and leave them to reflect on their ignorance and stupidity. These days, it’s my values that protect me when I get attacked, because like you said, it can take a lifetime to build character, and only a split second to destroy it all. Can you imagine if you saw in the news that “The founder of The Positivity Solution was arrested for breaking a woman’s jaw in a grocery store parking lot”? (not that I would EVER violently lay my hands on a woman for any reason, I’m just making a point.) My responses to the hate of others are guided by my values, and I will never let myself be controlled by a puppeteer, because I’m the one in charge of my strings 🙂

      • Wow- no Shola, I could have NEVER imagined reading anything of the sort… BUT, if I did – It would have made me second guess everything that you ever stated that brought life to my being. Therefore, I reiterate – I applaud you for your bravery to simply do “nothing” 🙂
        I am constantly keeping you covered with my prayers.

  11. You are amazing, Shola. Seriously. I will strive to live by my values. I tend to stay quiet just because I hate confrontation. It is not in my nature to argue in that sort of situation. Although I don’t know what it feels like to be in your shoes, I have been verbally attacked in public. I allowed those comments to eat away at me for a very long time.

    I love that you don’t ever let anyone steal your joy. That’s my new mantra! Joy-Killers Be Gone!!! (I should get that on a t-shirt!)

    You are brave to share this story. You handled the situation beautifully. I am sad for that woman. She is obviously very broken inside. I can only imagine what has gone on in her life to make her so hateful.

    Have a blessed week, Shola. I will make this week about staying in check with my values, thanks to you!

    Hugs,

    Kathy

    • Ha! Joy-Killers, Be Gone would make an excellent t-shirt, Kathy! Thank you so much for the kind words, and I really hope that sharing this story has helped other people to find their strength and positivity in the face of ugliness and hate. Have a great week, my friend!

  12. Vanessa Callahan says:

    Thank you for sharing this story! The fact that she did that is telling. I know from my own experience that what you do to others is a reflection of what you do to yourself. You can not hate others any more than you hate yourself. You also can not love others any more than you love yourself. Anytime I see extreme hate in the world, I feel compassion for those people. I know the hate they’re projecting is a window into their own personal world. The level of cruelty, judgement, condemnatation, intolerance, and pain they project towards others is directly equal to how they feel about and treat themselves. When you understand that, it’s easier to be gentle with them. They are still children in pain. They’ve been taught and currently beleive they’re not lovable as they are. They aren’t good enough, so therefore neither are you. We’ve all felt that at one point in our lives-That sinking feeling that there’s something inherently wrong with us. It’s terrible. From that self hate perspective- the only way to deal with the pain is to put it onto others. When you chose to love ALL of yourself, you let go of self hate. You’re tolerant of ALL of yourself and therefore tolerant of all others. Plus, you can clearly see where those people are coming from, because you just left there. You can feel love for them. The problem is not who they are, it’s who they think they are. It’s hard not loving yourself, and the way that women went out of her way to hurt you is how she goes out of her way to hurt herself. Conversely, the way you chose to be tolerant of her is how you choose to be tolerant of yourself. Go love!

    • That’s right, Vanessa–go Love! I’m with you 100%. I believe that people who project hate, condemnation, intolerance, etc. to the world are only doing so because that’s how they feel about themselves. It took me many years to make this realization, but now that I see it, I realize how true it is. In terms of dealing with that woman in the parking lot, you said it so brilliantly in your comment that I might have to steal it for myself: “the way you chose to be tolerant of her is how you choose to be tolerant of yourself.” Perfectly said!

  13. I do not know what was in that lady’s heart, or why she would behave with cruelty and disrespect towards you. You responded as a gentleman, a kind human being, with dignity and strength. Her behavior makes me weep for the world; yours makes me proud to be human. Thank you for sharing your response.

    FWIW, I’m a white mid-forties woman who sometimes frequents upscale grocery stores. I wish I’d been there to say, “That lady is clearly nuts!” and “Are you okay?” and “Can I buy you a latte to help ease that horrible experience?” I know I couldn’t have erased it or made you feel good about it, but a measure of kindness in response to such an inflicted wound might have helped.

    Thank you for sharing your story, as painful as it must have been to tell it, and as painful as it was to hear it. Thank you for teaching your response.

    • Kristina, you are so sweet! I also don’t know what was in that lady’s heart, but if I had to guess, I’m sure that it was a lot of pain. Most importantly, you are clearly part of the solution by being willing to step up and offer kindness when someone is down, so thanks for that :). I also do the same thing when I see a cashier or waiter/waitress being treated like dirt by a customer. Just by offering a little bit of kindness when they’ve been kicked down is a powerful way to help restore their faith in humanity. Thanks so much for being willing to make the world a more positive place!

  14. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I’m currently writing a post along a similar theme (“you can’t change stupid or mean; you can only counteract it”) but, as always, you’ve said things more eloquently and spot-on than I ever could have.

    The sad fact is that there is plenty of random ugliness in the world, and trying to “change,” “fix” or “teach a lesson to” the people who propagate it will only waste your precious energy and heart and drag you down in the process. The best we can do is try to be an example to those whose hearts ARE open and to spread as much positive goodness as we can to counterbalance the ugliness.

    I am so honored to count you as a blog friend, Shola. You are seriously an awesome guy.

    • Kell, I think that might have to be my new motto: “You can’t change stupid or mean; you can only counteract it.” I absolutely love this. Your comment is the perfect summary to this blog post, and as always, you nailed it. This isn’t a blog post about racism–this is a blog post about the response to the ugliness in the world. And damn, you said it brilliantly when you talked about the uselessness of trying to “teach a lesson” to someone who isn’t ready to hear it. My energy needs to be reserved for people who are open to hearing it. Most importantly, we’re more than “blog friends,” we’re friends–and believe me, the honor is all mine 🙂

  15. You really are my hero.

  16. Hello,
    I am new here and wanted to take a minute to thank you for this article. I had a similar incident happen to me just a few weeks ago. Like you, I did not become enraged and strike back. It just came as a complete shock. Why would anyone do that to another human being? The only difference here is that my self-esteem is so low that I took it to heart and was very hurt. It has taken my quite a while to realize that the problem isn’t mine, but the other persons’.
    Shola, thank you for sharing your reaction. Many people who I’ve told the story to have asked me what I did to get even. When I said,’nothing’, they were very disappointed and told me what they would have done for revenge. I don’t get it. How can anyone get pleasure out of hurting someone?
    Thanks for listening.
    Sara

    • Hi Sara, thanks so much for sharing your story! Just like you, I was also in complete shock when it happened. I’ve come to realize that people only say/do hurtful things because they are deeply hurting inside themselves. Some people internalize their pain and other people use their pain to lash out at others. While that’s all true, I will never see the logic in “Fighting fire with fire” or seeking revenge…as if that’s somehow going to make everything right. Good on you for not responding, but please don’t take that person’s words to heart. That person’s hurtful words says so much more about him/her than it ever will about you 🙂

  17. Colleen Lusk says:

    Good for you, Shola! You did not let that ignorant woman take away your power. You did not stoop to her level. You held your head high and continued on your way as if nothing had happened. She was looking for a reaction and you did not give her one. My minister father always said to turn the other cheek. As a bullied child, I did exactly that and never responded to the bully or her hateful words. It wasn’t easy to do and it hurt inside to hear the angry words, but I did it. It sounds cliche but it made me a stronger and more compassionate person and an empathetic teacher. Keep on doing what you’re doing, Shola! You are an inspiration!

    • Right on, Colleen! We both know what it’s like to be bullied as kids, and we both know that bullies are deeply craving a reaction from the people who they bully. Choosing not to stoop down to their level has made you more compassionate and empathetic, and the kids who you teach are the beneficiaries of you approach. There is no doubt in my mind that your influence is setting up the next generation for enormous success by helping them to be kind, thoughtful, and compassionate members of society. Well done, and thank you for the kind words!

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