A week ago I had dinner with a group of old friends to celebrate the birthdays of two of them. As gifts, I took each of the birthday women a small painting from the series I'm doing. As the paintings circulated around the table, one of the other women said, "Oh, these are just like the paintings of X. You know X. I love her work."
I felt immediately wounded by this remark. First, of course, my paintings aren't just like X's (whom I know, love, and respect) although they are small and they are in the realistic vein. More importantly, the comparison felt to me a diminshing of the specialness of my gift. Although no more was said about it at the table, I walked away with a bad feeling about myself and the woman who made the remark. In the days following, I could feel a resentment forming as the memory of the evening, which had been lovely in so many respects, seemed tainted now by my hurt.
In the wonderful way the universe sends us messages, this week I've been editing for a client who writes books on recovering from low self-esteem. One of the root causes is our belief that we know why other people say and do what they do. We believe that our interpretations of their words and actions are true when, in reality, we have no way to know why they say or do anything.
Resentment is an easy trap to fall into. My friend's remark touched a nerve in me (is my work original? is my work of any value? is there anything special about me?) that has been hard to shake. But I can see that my reaction is mine alone. I have no idea why she brought up X and her work. I know her well enough to know that she wouldn't deliberately hurt me. And while I can speculate as to her motivation, that's all it is, speculation. It isn't the truth.
My task is to let this go. To look at my insecurities. To deal with my responses. Not easy but at least they're under my control. And if my goal is peace of mind, I'll let go now, not later.