I think over the years I have become good at distancing myself from people with low selfesteem. I am still confronted with it occasionally because obviously we cannot always choose what we’re witnessing, who the people we’re close to invite into their lives and even confident people can go through rough phases. End of 30s is simply a rough time for many, it seems.

I simply disengage at times because the conversations keep repeating and I am not arguing with someone about their life. I’m not here to convince you. If you think you will never do this or that or stop certain behaviors, that’s your business. I can be that patient once a conversation and encourage you that it will be alright, but if you double down on it, I accept that and move on in the conversation or just don’t continue it for that day.

It just not worth the effort and headache and time. I cannot change what someone else has decided and is partially speaking into existence. I cannot prove them otherwise. I also want to prevent falling back into the same pattern, since I used to be the same.

People who are hurt can be (unintentionally) self-centered and cruel and I don’t wanna be the target of that. I don’t want all my topics turned into a self pity festival because they always find a way to lead it back to that - be it their isolation, their love life, their weight, their employment situation, their living situation etc. so I don’t indulge in that and I avoid triggering it in the conversation. Some cruelty comes from envy so I tone down accomplishments or positive things in my life or don’t talk about them where they can see.

I cannot avoid all of it because, and this is the top reason of why I prefer to keep my distance, people who hate themselves have nothing left to lose because in their eyes, they don’t have anything and don’t deserve anything. And they will act like that. They will lash out occasionally to self sabotage and drive you away, or they will not be careful with their words because they are upset about another thing and there’s no outlet. From their perspective, there’s no need for a filter because why should they care if no one else cares about them in return (their perception, at least)? For a tiny amount of people, maybe it’s also a way to get back at you for being more successful or more comfortable with yourself than they are. And I deserve none of that behavior towards me.

I’ve recently witnessed two incidents of disrespect by people who have extremely low self esteem and who say of themselves that they are “ugly”, have “no personality” and “don’t care to be healthy”. Then there is another person who has admitted to comparing themself to me and my relationship and said they’re therefore feeling unlovable and unattractive. And they let me feel that in a petty and passive aggressive way the last time we saw each other.

And it’s just.. oof. I don’t feel in the position to say something about it to those people because as detailed above, why argue with someone who has settled on their fate. They’re not employing me as their therapist or lifecoach and it’s none of my business. But also, it feels like I would be kicking someone who’s already down and also expecting a level of self-reflection they just can’t offer right now because of mental illness and/or severe life circumstances. It would be expecting too much of them at that moment. Not to mention that for some the illness is so bad that any criticism makes their brain turn it into a reason why they should isolate themselves from everyone for allegedly being a horrible person, when they aren’t one at all. So I decide to be the bigger person and capitalize on my improved mental health by not arguing, just disengaging and trying to be compassionate in my head because I can relate to what they likely feel on the inside.

But it also makes me reflect on the fact that criticism is a good sign because it means people think you can do better, see you as a person who can take it and trust you with it, not looking down on you or pitying you. It means you’re in a good position in your life. I know of several coworkers who simply do not explain concepts to specific other employees anymore and do not criticize them because they have given up on the person; all because that person has low self esteem, is just repeatedly not getting it, or is too stubborn and blaming everyone else but themselves. Even if criticism hurts, it’s much better than to be the person who is pitied, protected because they’re way too sensitive, not smart enough or never accepting fault and arguing all the time.

This is what’s happening with the people above - because of how they are right now, they cannot get an opportunity to better themselves via feedback that they can’t accept or treat correctly right now. And it sucks. I hope it will change for the better one day.

It gets tricky when people can feel you’re disengaging or being more distant and ask why. They’re forcing the topic to be discussed without being in the right mindset or point in their life. I try to keep it vague and friendly when we interact and I don’t want to discuss it until either their attitude or their life circumstances have changed. There needs to be some priorities after all - please take care of the business that makes you feel so bad before attempting to have conversations over someone being less close to you. And I don’t know if it’s part of the lacking self reflection I talked about above, but it should be obvious why people (in this case, me) distance themselves in each person’s specific case. If you are continually grumpy, catty or draining in ways you have to have at least partially noticed, why not just give people that space and focus on you until you can show up in a better mental space and attract that person back simply by being you? People can forgive a lot, even without a word, just actions.