We all know what's comes after the words, "Don't take this personally, but..." An insult. Same goes for "no offense." There is a guaranteed offense either before or after those words. The intent, of course, is to disarm you and make you defenseless because, well, they told you how not to react. It's a good subliminal trick, since more often than not, when someone receives an insult wrapped in a disclaimer, they tend to not rebuke them. At least not right away.
Listen, I'm guilty of it. As a generally non-confrontational person, I know I've pulled this passive-aggressive trick out of the hat a time or two in the past. Then I became a bit (far from completely) self-aware and started hitting conflict straight on. Not to say I look for a fight. Seriously, I do not want to fight, but if I need to, I will. With a vengeance of epic and annihilating aggression. That's not a brag, just a fact.
I mention this because in the early years of dating my husband, who so happens to be in Law Enforcement for the past 35 years (and a USMC Gulf War Veteran), I encountered quite a few people who thought it was their place to tell me what police officers were like. Some examples? Oh, sure.
You're dating a cop? They all cheat, you know. 40% of cops are notorious spousal abusers. How could you date a cop? They're all corrupt.
You get the idea. This, obviously, put me on the defensive for my truly wonderful, kind-hearted man. I sparred with anyone and everyone who dared insult him or the profession as a whole. And I did so with an arsenal of facts, data, statistics, and of course, personal experience. My husband appreciated my fierce defense of him and the job he did with honor and pride, but he also worried for me and for how my outspokenness would affect my budding writing career. I was like a vicious dog with a bone; I was not giving in or backing down, damn the consequence.
I can't just sit back and let them talk about you or police like that. It's not fair that you can't defend yourself against the B.S. comments.
It took me a couple (okay, few) years before I allowed his response to sink in.
They aren't talking about me or the job. They're talking from their own perceptions of police. Those perceptions are based on either something they experienced with a cop, or from the media, or what other people tell them. Not on reality. Sure, it bothers me - a lot if I let it - but at the end of the day, I can't let other people's perceptions dictate who I am. I know who I am and what I do.
As I became more outspoken, the insults started coming my way. During that same time, I got my first negative review on a book. I was getting a taste of what life in the public eye (on a very small scale) was like. I started with the same energy I'd used defending my husband's work - responding to comments with maniacal glee and intent to beat down my opponents until they either begged for mercy or slinked away. And then... well, I'm not quite sure what changed, Honestly? I think I just got tired.
I began noticing the battles were repeats of circular argument with no resolution, no come to Jesus moments, and no satisfaction (aside from "winning"). I began to care less about the opinions of others. It was one of the most liberating feelings I've ever had.
Around this time, I discovered the book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. These four agreements are covenants you make with yourself so as to live your best life. They are:
Be Impeccable With Your Word.
Don't Take Anything Personally.
Don't Make Assumptions.
Always Do Your Best.
So simple, right? Yes... and no. Simple in concept, difficult in practice. However, mastering these agreements is completely life changing and worth the energy investment. Each agreement has it's own significant value, but because of the lifestyle I live and work I do - authorship, social media content creating, and podcasting - I took special notice of number two, as I'd already begun the work and wanted to attain the skills to do it better.
The moment - and I mean the literal moment - when I fully understood that other people's perceptions and opinions of me were not my business or my concern, the need to argue with them or prove them wrong disappeared. Dis. A. Peared. You think I'm terrible writer? Okay, cool. You say I'm a "pig lover?" That's nice. You think my TikTok videos are stupid? Aw, well thanks for watching!
It's all good, because I know it's not personal. Maybe they're saying mean things because I remind them of the aunt they hate. Maybe it's because they're having a bad day, or a bad life for that matter. Maybe they're jealous or envious. I don't know (and I don't care).
What I do know with absolute certainty is that happy, fulfilled people don't try to hurt other people. Only unhappy/hurt people do that. You will never see a fulfilled person trying to bring anyone down. So, when you understand that, it kind of takes the sting out of their bite, doesn't it?
But Elsa (someone might say), what if they're making really personal attacks? (You're fat, you're ugly, etc.) Same mantra: not my business, not my problem, not my reality. And if you're struggling to believe those words for yourself, remember this: God does not make mistakes.
I cannot say it enough: incorporating the four agreements into your daily habits and mindset will change you in the best possible way. You're worth the time it will take to the work of achieving this mindset.
About Elsa Kurt
Lifelong Patriot & longtime Police Wife, Elsa Kurt has channeled her fierce love and passion for defending the defenders as the creator, Executive Producer & Host of the Elsa Kurt Show , correspondent and media personality for Right America Media & Law Enforcement Today. Her book, Welcome to the Family (Life Behind the Thin Blue Line) has been called the “must have survival guide for new LEO spouses.”
The vocal LEOF advocate is also a multi-genre author who has penned over 25 books, including twelve contemporary women’s novels. Her fiction stories explore the complex and relatable experiences of everyday life – the love & laughter, the heartbreak & sorrow, and everything in between. She finds the extraordinary in ordinary lives and puts you in the front seat of every story. Elsa has also written several children’s books, all with themes of encouragement, empowerment & uplifting messaging.
In 2022, Elsa launched The Writer’s Tribe Talk Show, an audio & video podcast for authors & a line of author merchandise in her Writer’s Tribe Store with clothing and more for authors & aspiring authors. Elsa also created three lines of apparel, accessories, & home decor: EKS Store with show & first responder merchandise, iGoodhuman, and Very Sweary Stuff. In 2022, Elsa joined the Amazon Influencer program and built her Elsa Kurt Official Amazon store.