At My Worst

If we wait long enough, there is always a break in the clouds...
If we wait long enough, there is always a break in the clouds…

Last week, I hinted at fiction for this week… that’s still on- for Thursday, I think 🙂 But tonight, as I work through some stuff in my head, I had some thoughts I was moved to share.

When we have a disagreement with someone, we often comment that we’ve seen them at their worst. On the surface, the disagreement seems like a negative thing. In the aftermath, we tell ourselves the hurtful person that emerged and attacked with well-aimed emotional missiles was just a result of the situation. It’s not really who they are.

It occurs to me that this “worst” isn’t always an abnormality in behavior, but rather the truest sense of the person that appeared from behind the mask usually held firmly in place.   What seems like a bad thing turns into a blessing because it provides a glimpse of what lives in the person’s heart. It’s better to know what we’re dealing with.

It got me thinking about what I am at my worst. I’m there right now…

I struggle to keep seeds of resentment from taking root. I battle anger with regular exercise and prayers to “let it go.” I linger in lows where hope could slide through the eye of a needle.  Sometimes I feel like a doormat and I want to shout all the things I bottle up inside, but I refuse to retaliate with hatred. I seek peace instead.  Bad feelings might be around me, but they will not become me.

This is who I am at my worst.  I’m far from perfect, but I could be worse…

What do you think – is our worst a true indication of who we are?

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44 thoughts on “At My Worst

  1. frederick anderson April 27, 2015 / 10:18 PM

    I do believe that an attack should be at least rebuffed, and on occasions countered. Personally I expect perfection of no-one, but I seek in the few I count as friends some semblance of regret in the aftermath of a negative encounter, and, if deserved, an apology. The process of rebuke and acknowledgement of wrong is necessary to both parties in the development of character. I shun persons who do not learn from consequences.

    • jannatwrites April 27, 2015 / 10:48 PM

      Good call on perfection – that expectation would surely lead to disappointment every time since none of us can live that! I do agree that when attacked, we should make our stance known, which opens things up to discussion, and with any luck, resolution. Where I’m at right now, I feel I’m being provoked and the strong stubborn streak in me refuses to take the bait. When the time is right, my response will be very clear… but still not hateful 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this, Frederick!

  2. Timothy Price April 27, 2015 / 11:22 PM

    I don’t think our worst is necessarily a true indication of who we really are, but there are varying opaqueness to the masks people hide behind. I think there are a lot of people who have a darkness in their hearts that they keep masked because social norms force them to be civil, but if they had their choice they’d be jerks all the time. Then there are a few people who are simply jerks all the time (I had a neighbor who was a jerk all the time. He died recently, very much alone in the world).

    Then there are those people, mostly men, but sometimes women, who as they age sometimes begin having doubts about themselves, feelings of inadequacy, being past their prime, and believing they never got to do what they really wanted to do in life. For many older, single men, these feelings all too often result in depression that ends in suicide. For some married men, they become depressed and feel their spouse and kids (if they had children) are the reason they never got to do what they really wanted to do or never achieved some goal in life, and those feelings turn to anger, the anger simmers, eventually erupts, and becomes very destructive to a relationship.

    Many people are able to reflect on their lives and realize that all that lost potential they think they had, and all those things they didn’t get to do were mostly fantasies anyway, and they know in reality they probably never would have even pursued their fantasies, let alone achieved them, if they had chosen a different path in life. Then they snap themselves out of the depression and continue on with life. But for some people, the depression becomes very deep, dark and angry making it impossible for them to think reasonably or rationally and the fantasies lost become lost realities in their minds. Unwilling to blame themselves, they blame the people in their lives who they perceive as being responsible for making them miss opportunities, blocking their paths to greatness, and reducing them to their current state of misery; if their masks come off when they are in this state of mind, these people can become very ugly and often extremely vile. This behavior is normally directed toward their spouses, but can easily be children, bosses, coworkers or close friends.

    • jannatwrites April 28, 2015 / 6:17 AM

      Timothy, I appreciate your thought-out response. You make some good points, and one instance isn’t necessarily the best indicator of true nature. I think it does reveal what is in the heart, but I’ve seen hearts change. The situation that prompted me to write this was not a one-off. The point came where I had to realize the repetitive nature was not the exception, but rather what had been the norm. The instances you describe here are sad to me because we could be so much better as people if we take time to reflect upon who we really are, and accept that our choices made us who we are. Neglecting ownership of our lives and passing it off as blame onto someone else doesn’t do anyone any favors. I have also encountered people like this and there really is no talking to them. It is a no-win situation for all involved. Meaning, no matter what you do or say, the person will not be happy and in their mind, you will likely be the cause of their unhappiness.

  3. mbarkersimpson April 28, 2015 / 3:06 AM

    I hope me at my worst is not a true reflection of who I am, otherwise I would never get out of bed. At my worst I am uncommunicative, dark and, for want of a better word, miserable. But you make a good point. The people others see is the projection of who I want to be. Happy, fun, and generous with my time. Perhaps both sides of the coin are true – we are darkness and we are light. I guess you have to embrace both.

    • jannatwrites April 28, 2015 / 6:22 AM

      I think we all have times where we retreat into ourselves, Mel. I don’t think this is bad at all. What I had in mind here were instances where the misery is laser-beamed at those we love so we can bring them down as well. Do we choose to withdraw or do we choose to lash out? That is a reflection of who we are. We can change that, of course, but that is what I had in mind. I have dark times as well and I don’t think the misery is who I am at all. But I have to say, my misery would be worse if I allowed myself to unleash it on those around me. I would feel terribly guilty for that. Some people seem to derive pleasure from that… it’s all about what’s in our heart. (I don’t know you, but I really don’t see you as one who likes to bring others down!)

      • mbarkersimpson April 28, 2015 / 6:35 AM

        Thanks 🙂 And you’re right. I don’t like to bring down others. I’d rather shut myself away than take things out on other people. But I know what you mean. There are times I lash out and that, as you said, only feeds the misery.

        • jannatwrites April 28, 2015 / 6:38 AM

          That’s the thing too, Mel… when someone lashes out and a sincere apology follows and real effort is seen to not do that in the future- I see the true nature of the heart as being kind, but just in pain. When the person lashes out and blames me… I see the heart differently 🙂

        • mbarkersimpson April 28, 2015 / 6:48 AM

          Yes, I see your point. I never thought about it that way. But it makes sense 🙂

  4. suzicate April 28, 2015 / 4:16 AM

    I think you’re right it shows a person’s inner core. We all have shadow sides, and in knowing this part of ourselves gives us opportunity to grow in beautiful ways. We each are capable of good and bad…it’s the choice we make that makes the difference. Blessings to you this day and every day, Janna.

    • jannatwrites April 28, 2015 / 6:31 AM

      I think over time, masks slide and this is where true nature comes through (if we open our eyes to see it.) I agree that we are capable of good and bad and choice matters. When I was younger, I had a few arguments where I was overly harsh and criticisms weren’t delivered in a loving way. I aimed to hurt and I did. And I felt horrible about it and have regretted it. This is why I tend to remain silent until I’m to a point I think I can communicate without intentionally hurting. Thanks for reading and sharing your insight, Suzicate!

  5. joannesisco April 28, 2015 / 5:07 AM

    This is one of those posts that has made me stop and reflect for a while.

    The conclusion I’ve come to is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. People are complex and for every ‘rule’ there seems to be an exception. There are those who live behind a mask which occasionally slips and shows their true nature – whether good or bad.

    Then there are others who display their true self on a day-to-day basis with occasional out-of-character glimpses or either goodness or meanness.

    • jannatwrites April 28, 2015 / 6:33 AM

      I think over time, we can discover a persons, true nature. You are right about the complexity of people, Joanne. I have found that in times of stress and when things are hard, this is where heart really does show because the person is worn down enough to not cover up what is there. That’s what we need to pay attention to.

  6. Tessa April 28, 2015 / 6:21 AM

    Janna how do you know that you have seen them at THEIR worst. I know I am negative hear, but there could still be more to come.. Sorry, Hope you have seen the worst and you reacted the way I would.

    • jannatwrites April 28, 2015 / 6:35 AM

      This made me laugh, even though it’s not funny, Tessa! I figure I probably haven’t seen the worst… there could certainly be new worsts to follow, but at least I won’t be snared by them blindly 🙂

      • Tessa April 28, 2015 / 8:27 AM

        Glad i could make you laugh. Glad you are more aware now!

  7. nrhatch April 28, 2015 / 6:24 AM

    People often wear masks and sometimes their masks slip . . . giving us a glimpse of who they really are.

    We nod, “I see who you are behind that mask.”

    If they realize their “slip is showing” and/or that “their mask is slipping,” they may use blame and guilt to manipulate us. “This is all YOUR fault. If you just did what I told you to do . . . NONE of this would be happening.”

    The more “real” they become, the better we feel about leaving them behind as we continue our journey through life . . .

    With other people, the worst emerges because they are sick, tired, exhausted, worn out, frazzled, and/or in need of chocolate. NOW!

    • jannatwrites April 28, 2015 / 6:37 AM

      You’ve nailed it, Nancy! I probably need to send you an email…it’s been a while and I’ve had some eye opening experiences, to say the least 🙂 I don’t know if chocolate can help some people, but it sure helps me keep calm and smile!

    • Catherine Johnson April 28, 2015 / 6:42 AM

      Nancy you are so wise. I’ve been tired for the longest time because of my kids. I finally feel like I’m turning a corner.

      Janna I can so relate to the bottling it up and doormat stuff. I’ve bedn reading a lot of great religious quotes about being as God wants us to be rather than reacting to moron behavior 😉

      • jannatwrites May 2, 2015 / 8:18 PM

        Reacting to moron behavior – I like that Catherine! It’s so hard sometimes to not react, but I know I feel better when I keep my reactions in check. Good luck during the trying times,Catherine 🙂

  8. nrhatch April 28, 2015 / 6:50 AM

    Chocolate is a GREAT coping mechanism!

    Dark Chocolate ~ “Chocolate possesses phenylethylamine, an amphetamine-like compound that acts as a natural mood enhancer, and theobromine, which is a mild stimulant. To reap the benefits of dark chocolate, it should be eaten regularly in small amounts.” [Top 100 Healing Foods, p. 117]

    • jannatwrites May 2, 2015 / 8:19 PM

      Well, I don’t always eat dark chocolate, but sometimes chocolate in any form is good enough, haha 🙂

  9. Debbie April 28, 2015 / 11:10 AM

    This is one of those “deep” subjects that probably doesn’t have a right or a wrong answer, you know that, right?!? I believe man was created with two natures — human and divine. The human side is subject to the “bad stuff” like anger, resentments, jealousy, and so forth; the divine side is where our better self comes out (love, generosity, joy, etc.). While we’re here on earth, we’re human and it takes a LOT of effort to mask our dark nature. Some are better adept at doing so than others (that’s why we’re surprised when we see someone we thought we knew, acting out of character). If we ever hope to live at peace with ourselves and with others, we’ll embrace our divine nature and, as much as possible, refuse to “play along” with those who try to manipulate us into our dark sides. Gee, I didn’t mean to go all philosophical on you — hope this makes sense!!

    • jannatwrites May 2, 2015 / 8:23 PM

      I think it all depends on the situation where the ‘worst’ behavior emerged and what transpires afterwards as well. I do agree that we should embrace the divine nature as much as we can. The thing is, when human nature rules and we act in less-than-noble ways, this is where I think the true nature of the person comes out… in whether they blame the other person, apologize, or just completely don’t acknowledge the wrong. I don’t think I communicated this well in the original post (it was hard to write this without divulging any specifics 🙂 )

  10. Widdershins April 28, 2015 / 5:31 PM

    So long as we do it with honour, authenticity, and respect, it’s simply another aspect of our true selves.

    • jannatwrites May 2, 2015 / 8:25 PM

      I would agree with that, Widdershins. Our worst self doesn’t have to be beastly (mean and hateful without regard to others’ feelings.) Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  11. Nurse Kelly April 28, 2015 / 6:13 PM

    If seeking peace, overcoming bad feelings, and working through anger with prayer and exercise are what you do when you are at your worst, I’d like to know what you do when you are at your best! You displayed a lot of strength here. 🙂

    • jannatwrites May 2, 2015 / 8:27 PM

      Well, I don’t always succeed, but I do try to keep positive. Sometimes it is hard, though. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Nurse Kelly. I’m really behind on blog stuff, but I know you have a few posts that I haven’t read. Tomorrow I’m hoping to make a dent in my reading 🙂

      • Nurse Kelly May 3, 2015 / 12:05 AM

        No worries Janna – you don’t owe me anything. Just read if you want to 🙂

        • jannatwrites May 3, 2015 / 10:05 PM

          Oh, I want to read them because the titles interest me. I got up to April 27th today 🙂

        • Nurse Kelly May 4, 2015 / 2:32 AM

          Too funny – you are so sweet, thank you

  12. chlost April 28, 2015 / 8:16 PM

    I don;t think that our worst side is an indication of our true self. The part of ourselves which reacts with calm and dignity in a challenging situation is just as much a part of us as that which may lash out with anger, vindictiveness and cruelty. It is the balance of those two sides which is our true self. Some people have more of one side or the other, and many of us see one side or the other depending upon the situation.To allow only one side to be shown at all times is just not realistic or real. I say that you can embrace your worst while offsetting it with the better side of you. Good luck with maintaining some balance and perspective when being challenged.

    • jannatwrites May 2, 2015 / 8:29 PM

      Thanks for sharing your perspective on this, Chlost. Balance is a good thing to strive for. I struggle with that (as my blog activity can attest to, haha!)

  13. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) April 30, 2015 / 5:28 AM

    I think our worst is when we bottle up in silence. When we are pressurecookers ready to explode..and don’t.. so maybe when we finally do we are exposing those worst part of us.. If we let it slowly leek out instead, we are more honest, and maybe more our true selves.. so I think those confrontations might be both the worst and the best of us colliding. hmm provoking question really

    • jannatwrites May 2, 2015 / 8:32 PM

      Good point about the bottling stuff up, Bjorn. I’ve known people that do that and when it blows, it’s bad. I’m glad you stopped by and shared your thoughts on this. It really is interesting seeing how people view and respond to this question.

  14. agjorgenson April 30, 2015 / 6:33 PM

    I think me at my worst is just that: me at my worst. I am that, but that is not all I am. I am also me at my best. But most importantly, I am loved and accepted for who I am by God. I find hope in that!

    • jannatwrites May 2, 2015 / 8:33 PM

      That is true that God loves us as we as are, Allen. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that when our worst does come out 🙂

  15. Leigh W. Smith April 30, 2015 / 8:03 PM

    Fascinating philosophies expressed here, Janna. My first reaction to the question was, “Dear god, I sure hope not, for my sake!” I’m pretty tough on myself–that much has been exposed in therapy–and so my worst moments feel pretty world-smashingly bad. Rationally, in comparison with other ‘bad things’ in the world, I haven’t murdered or raped or kidnapped anyone, started a war, stolen, embezzeled, perjured, libeled or slandered, or harassed.
    In the end, I guess I’d say a weird circular logic kind of a thing. If one has the self-possession and integrity and presence of mind to wonder whether his or her worst moments are a bellwether of the self, then s/he is, indeed, on the right path [kind of Buddhist in a way, I guess]. Just asking that question is a really important thing (otherwise, what, you’re a sociopath and/or a narcissist who believes s/he has no flaws whatsoever?). On a personal level, I am very glad it seems like you are trying to treat yourself with kid gloves and being more forgiving of your actions, misgivings, thoughts, and words/statements. That’s also something I’ve learned–mostly!–through therapy; I am not my thoughts. And thoughts do not (have to) translate into actions. Thoughts and actions, in fact, are quite different. Soooo, anyway, many positive energies and thoughts regularly coming your way, J.

    • jannatwrites May 2, 2015 / 8:46 PM

      It has been interesting reading everyone’s viewpoints on the topic. Definitely a range of ways to look at it. In this post, I wasn’t thinking of our internal worst, like when we are depressed, sad, anxious, etc. I was thinking more along the lines of our interpersonal communications and how we might interact with others… and if we do lash out, do we apologize (showing a compassionate heart) or do we blame or ignore it (which shows an entirely different nature.) Had to chuckle at your sociopath/narcissist comment! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and logic behind those thoughts, Leigh. I do like your point about the interaction of thoughts and actions – and how they don’t have to “be” us.

  16. GodGirl May 5, 2015 / 12:22 AM

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and struggles here. I think, whether we are in a dark period of our lives or not, our identity in Christ doesn’t change. Despite what we are feeling or processing or struggling with, we can still say ‘I am his child’, ‘adopted into his family’, ‘beloved’, ‘forgiven’, ‘delighted in’… In my darkest times I have screamed at God, committed sins I’d never committed before, rejected my faith…. I chose to reject God but he desired that I didn’t stay in that state of independence forever, so he slowly beckoned me back. Believe me, it was a process, but I never lost my identity as his child. Who I am is who I am to him, no matter what I do or say. It’s only the Holy Spirit that motivates a change of heart. But some wounds can take years to work through.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2015 / 10:00 PM

      I think Christ sees the good in us even when we don’t. His forgiveness makes all the difference in us becoming who we should be. I love your statement about the Holy Spirit that motivates a change of heart – that is so true. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this, GodGirl!

  17. pattisj May 27, 2015 / 10:06 PM

    Hi Janna. I’m still trying to get caught up, too. Tough questions–far beyond my beany brain’s capacity! I don’t think we can judge what is one’s best/worst, we can only guess. We hardly know our own hearts. I commend you for your strength, refusing to stoop to a lower level, and maintaining a moral high ground. Your kids need to witness that strength, that character that holds its tongue when it would be so easy to lash out. Praying blessings for protection and healing over your family and relationships.

    • jannatwrites July 2, 2015 / 9:16 PM

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Patti. I’ve had some moments that are better than others, but each day, I do try 🙂

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