When someone seems angry, quiet, or just not excited about hanging out with you, it's hard to tell whether it's about you or not about you.
I recently spoke to a class of 20 college undergrads at an early a.m. class. I was invited to talk for 15 minutes about being a licensed mental health counselor. Some showed interest with facial expression, some showed neutral interest, and a few were falling asleep! The ones nodding off were doing so in less than 2 minutes after I started, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't about me.
I've been visiting recently with someone who had a stroke. It's been a terrifying time as this active woman, wife, and mom lost the use of one side of her body in a matter of minutes. It's been an amazing time as she's quickly regained the ability to walk, speak, and function in daily life. Everyone is very thankful and excited for the days to come!
With a stroke victim, facial expressions, eye contact, and emotions are flattened. So, I wasn't really sure if I should be there or if it was helpful. In fact, it was so uncomfortable that I had to just ask about it, and I confirmed that what I was experiencing had nothing to do with me. I'm so glad I asked!
These were goth great reminders of how easily I am influenced by non-verbal communication. I have to anchor myself that what I'm experiencing has nothing to do with me, but it's really challenging...and these are situations where I don't have a strong personal relationship!
When it's a close relationship (romantic, parent-child, boss-employee), imagine how much more complex it gets!
This is the reason I encourage people to set their foundations often, frequently, and deeply in the source of their value and worth, God. Without it, it's really tough to have great relationships with people. I think it's why Jesus told us to love God with all of our passion and prayer and intelligence and to love others as well as you love yourself.