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An Unlikely Reminder of Personal Growth

I think it really sucks you jumped to such a conclusion before taking anything I would have to say into consideration and also feeling the need to tell me of your planned selfish act. Based on this I feel it may be best to not continue seeing you. If you are so quick to act like this now, what may happen in the future? Would you do something like this again? I am sorry, but I do not want to find out.

What?! Are you freaking serious? What are you talking about?

This is an excerpt from an email I recently received from a man I had been dating. He was referring to a conversation we had the previous weekend. An honest conversation that had made me feel better about where things stood, but had apparently made him decide that he hated me. The rest of his email was chock full of scorn. You could tell that he had done his best to make the email come off as scathing, but did not quite have the writing abilities to successfully pull it off. Instead, he sounded like he was throwing a tantrum.

Oddly, receiving this email made me feel a combination of anger and confidence. The anger is an obvious, understandable reaction.

But the confidence? The confidence was a reaction I would not have expected.

There were many years in my life when I did not feel superbly confident in myself and who I was. As I have gotten older, I have started to feel much more comfortable in my skin and have gained much self-confidence. I have faith in myself, my emotions, and my abilities as a human being. I know who I am and what makes me tick. Even five years ago, statements like I read in this email would have shaken me. I would have wondered if the person writing such terribleness had a point about me. That maybe I had given someone reason to believe I was horrible, because maybe I was. Now I know without hesitation that statements I read in this email are completely ridiculous.

My view of myself has changed dramatically since the days when I would have taken to heart the scornful statements of someone I barely know. One of my first reactions after reading this email was, “Who the hell does this guy think he is! That this misguided, misinformed guy believes that he has the right to state this nonsense to me is absolutely preposterous! I know that I am awesome, not horrible, and by making these statements, this guy is making himself seem like a small person.”

After reading the email twice, I thought it was best to wait a day before I responded. My response was simple — it stated that I was sorry to hear that he felt this way, offered to pay him his share of tickets to an upcoming show that we had purchased, and wished him well. By reacting calmly and reasonably to his tantrum, I felt like I was the bigger person. And the bigger person wins every time.

It’s our reaction to ridiculous situations that sometimes remind us of how far we have come.

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An Unlikely Reminder of Personal Growth

Stacey Goldstein

APA Reference
Goldstein, S. (2018). An Unlikely Reminder of Personal Growth. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.