People Are Jerks (But it’s Got Nothing to Do With You) (Even When it Does!)


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Relationships, Spirituality, Thought | Posted on 09-20-2016

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[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]

People Are JerksLet’s face it, there are lots of jerky people out there. Many of them are part of our family. Some of them are our friends and colleagues. Heck, sometimes even we are the jerk!

But here’s the thing–when we are not the one being jerky, then it has nothing to do with us.

Regardless of what they are saying or doing.

Jerks are jerks, because they are jerks.

Technically, that’s not true as nobody is a jerk 100% of the time. More accurately, jerks are jerks because of the jerky thoughts going through their heads at the moment they appear to be acting like a jerk.

Not because…

…we provoked them (even if we have).

…we started it (even if we did).

…we should or could have done something else (even if we could have).

But ONLY because at the moment in time when they acted like a jerk, it seemed like the right thing for them to do based on their current state of mind.

NOTHING we do or say can cause another person to be a jerk.

We simply do not have the power to make anyone act a certain way. (Although it might be kind of fun if we did!)

Here’s a simple way to see the truth in this:

Try saying something to one person and watch how they react. Then say it to someone else and see how they react. Was it the same? Now try it out on other people.

How many different reactions did you get?

Even more to the point, try saying the same thing to the same person at different times of the day or when they’re in different moods.

Are their reactions different?

While I don’t expect you to actually carry out this experiment, you can imagine how it might turn out. I guarantee that you’d see varying results in all cases.

The very fact that people react differently to what is said or done to them at any given time, has to mean that their behavior is out of our control.

People lie. People steal. People cheat.

Sometimes they do those things to us and it sucks.

But when we know it’s got nothing to do with us and everything to do with them, it somehow makes it easier for us to deal with them. In fact, not only can we treat them in a way that seems right in the moment, knowing this also helps us see past their jerkiness.

Which has the power to transform the situation.

When someone is right in front of us acting jerky it may seem hard to believe, but we don’t have to see them as jerks.

Look at it this way–people don’t want to be jerks. They really don’t. There’s a good chance they don’t even know they’re being jerks. But even if they do, it’s not who they are. Not at their core. Have you ever acted like a jerk? Is that who you are?

Everybody’s jerkiness stems from their insecurities and need for love.

Including our own.

If we (and they) only knew that our fears were not real and that perfect love was already inside of us–bubbling under the surface of our hardened jerk exterior–we wouldn’t act so jerky. We couldn’t act so jerky.

Everyone’s reason for being a jerk would no longer exist.

So rather than run away from the jerks in our lives, what if we tore up the label we have in our mind that proclaims them to be a jerk? What if we created a new label (or none at all). What if we could see past their “problematic” behavior and peer into their soft center of love?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is necessarily an easy task. Especially during a jerk flair-up. But when we can manage it, it has the power to magically transform the situation.

It puts the power squarely in our own hands.

We are suddenly no longer a victim at the mercy of a jerk, but someone witnessing another human being in the midst of fear, crying out for love.

When we can see their cry for love and be less fearful of their jerky behavior, it can provide us with new solutions for dealing with them. After all, it’s very difficult for someone to continue to act like a jerk in the presence of true unconditional Love and compassion. It simply stops making sense to them.

Have you experienced this in your life? I’d love to know how it went for you!


P.S.  Before I get all the comments and emails about this, please note that I’m not suggesting anyone put up with any sort of abuse, be it mental or physical. Nor am I suggesting that anyone has to remain in a relationship with a jerk. I’m also not “blaming the victim” nor saying that people shouldn’t take responsibility for their behavior. I’m simply suggesting that we are not the cause of, nor can we control other people’s behavior. Therefore, when we are able to look past what they’re saying and doing and instead see their cry for love, it can change the situation as well as the relationship.

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CONTACT JILL WHALEN to learn how she may help you be the best you can be.

Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.

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Leave Your Thoughts Below(4)

Once again your insight was “spot on.” I’ve seen this first-hand in many people and in the past was very hurt by the actions of others. Now, I just seem to observe the “jerky” behavior and wonder what the cause might be. This can be quite fun if you’re creative enough to think of a really silly reason for their behavior!

Thanks, Kathleen! It’s definitely not easy, but I love your idea for making it fun!

Hi Jill,

I love this post. So true! The best quote is “Jerks are jerks, because they are jerks.” That really is speaking the truth. They are going to be who they are, when, how, etc they choose to be. Sometimes we get in their path and get the brunt of it.

Thanks Natalie! That’s it exactly. Glad you loved the post!