I got 99 problems...
And I won't back down...

Look away...

I hate when people look down at me.

The realization that someone has such little regard for you as a fellow human being is so horribly dehumanizing. It can be a friend, relative, coworker, random stranger, it doesn't matter. It's such a common act that many people don't realize they've done it. Then there are those people that do know exactly what they're doing. 

Just a glance or an offhanded comment or, worst of all, a well-orchestrated personal attack. Yeah, that's definitely the worst. If it's something that happens in passing, you can often brush it off as just some random idiot. But when it's planned out and delivered with the precision of a smart bomb, it can have a devastating effect.

And sometimes they happen for the pettiest of reasons. "You like that music/movie/book/TV show?" "You went to that school?" "You're wearing that shirt?"

How do you respond to personal attacks like this? In some cases, it's easy. Some attacks can be deflected with a well-timed joke or smart-assed response. I'm typically pretty good at those. But when it's the more subtle, like a look or a perceived attitude, how do you react to those?

What if it's someone you see on a semi-regular basis? If it's a random stranger attacking your character, you should attack back, without question. You'll never see them again. Who cares? But someone you see a lot? And you may share common acquaintances with? That's much tougher.

As you can see, this has been bugging me for some time. I've thought it through and I don't want to attack back in the last example to which I refer. There are a few people that I perceive as doing this to me every time I see them. I don't think they realize it at all. It's just a part of their nature, it's who they are. Anybody less than them, they look down on. Anybody better than them, they come up with something to make them mentally perceive this person as a lesser being so they can then look down on them. It makes me dread meeting up with them to the very core of my being.

It's frustrating as hell because I want to confront these people about how they act, but my hands are tied. It would cause too many problems with all our shared acquaintances. Too much strain. And yet it makes our every meeting absolutely unbearable. At least for me.

I realize that I've done this to people in the past and I've likely hurt them as much as I've been hurt. But I've been making a conscious effort to not do this anymore. I can only hope it's working as this simple act is so overwhelmingly powerful. And when it's done, it hurts. I mean really hurts.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


In some cases, I think the person may have self-esteem issues (I'll make you feel bad before you make me feel bad) Or it may be jealousy (I want what you have but I'll trash it so I don't have to be happy for you)If you could identify it, it becomes a little easier to dismiss it.


Revenge is a dish best served cold... and anonymously...


I really think that some people don't even realize that they are doing it...not that it makes it okay, but still. I've openly discussed it with friends before, basically saying that I feel about five inches tall almost every time that I hang out with them. In some cases, this led to a "break up" and in others, the person really felt bad about what they were doing.

There is no way you deserve to be treated like that. You do have the right to NOT hang out with the person and then if they ask why, you can kindly tell them (yanno, so you stay ABOVE them!).


that's an uncomfortable (and painful) predicament. there are ways to choose your words wisely so as to not attack the other person. most of the time, given the type of person they are, they will react defensively. but you don't deserve to suffer through those situations when you know it's their problem, not yours.

i hope you can find a solution. (you can hire me to come out and kick their asses, if you'd like. i'll give you the friend rate.)



I have a family member who treats almost everyone like they are lesser beings, in a subtle way. It's definitely a self-esteem issue, but that doesn't make it any less tolerable. We tend to shrug it off as "that's just how she is" as much as we can, but now and then one of us reaches our tolerance level and fires back. Inevitably, it blows up into a major confrontation and results in some people not speaking to each other for awhile.

So yeah, I'm going to be watching this comment stream for good advice. Me? I got nothin' that works.


metalmom, I'm not quite sure what the reasons are. I'm not even sure how to find out.

Dave2, I would have to agree... on both points.

Hilly, unfortunately it gets a bit tricky with regard to consciously not hanging out with them.

sizzle, I get the friend rate? Sweet!!! While I've thought about choosing my words wisely, it's still hard because you never know what they'll say in response and then you must respond but without the prep time you had for the initial statement. Me? I'd get fired up as a result and likely wind up regretting what I say.

SJ, I'd see this going the same way. Sadly.


Would you like me to beat them up for you? I think it's great that you're taking the high road but I am not above smacking someone for you. Trust me, the pleasure would be all mine ;P


Hey Kev-

Wow! My first time doing a "blog". Is that what it is still called, or am I severely out of date?? Anyway, here goes! I know how that can feel- I work with a lot of very smart people who want you to know it all of the time! On the flip side, I agree with Dave that I do not think they do it intentionally. This is what I try and remember when it happens b/c I also know that I am hypersensitive to it. They do probably do it as a defense mechanism, some of them struggle socially, and I probably get extra defensive b/c I know they are a lot smarter than I am! If it gets really bad, I do try and have a talk with them on the side, I know this is uncomfortable, but in the end, it has made things get better and it prevents me from seething about it too much! I also have a really sarcastic family and it is how I can be to, so I like it when people tell me if I go to far, b/c I know I stick my foot in my mouth a lot and don't mean to hurt anyone by it. Ok- I will finally end this, let me know if this was too long for a blog, I am new at this!!


Jen W

Jen Weigand

Hey sorry-

One more thing- Hope this may help a little. Remember to tell people how you feel, in the long run it is better, if they care, they will apologize and try and do better- if they don't do you really want to hang with them anyway???


I wrote something related to this on Tuesday. I tend to encounter it more with family which makes it harder to deal with. My mom gets defensive _every time_ I suggest that she's belittling me or my education in some way.

I think it is rooted in her self-esteem issues (not having finished college) and that it's fairly unconscious on her part, but that doesn't make it much easier for me. Her defensive response if I bring it up usually makes me feel worse, and I think it's fair to say she hasn't really changed or curbed her comments. For the most part, I don't think she believes she does say anything negative (or the revelation gets lost in being upset by it). She takes things very personally. I try not to. While she is unwilling to change, I try to keep her words in perspective.

Dad and I both found Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements helpful even though the book is a bit new-agey. (She won't read it.)
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don't take anything personally.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.


You are on the right track. You have a great perspective on what is happening to you. I hope the person(s) realize what they are doing to you and stop!


I can really relate to this because it has happened to me often. For instance, when I told a "friend" we were going to Disney World for our honeymoon she remarked, "Why don't you go on a real honeymoon?" WTF is THAT? Totally uncalled for and rude! I've resolved that the next time someone makes a remark like that I'm just going to look at them calmly and say, "Wow, that was incredibly rude" and then see if they squirm. There's no reason to act like that. None.

I try not to act like that toward anyone else. Even if I think they might be weird/dumb/silly for a decision they make, it's not up to me to tell them that. It's their life, and unless they ask for my opinion, I keep it to myself. Plus I'm not better just because I don't agree with their actions, beliefs, likes, or dislikes.


I prefer to let my fists do the talking in situations like this. A quick beat down solves a lot. In fact, if you would fly me out there, I can lend you a hand if you'd like.

By the way, didn't you go to Northern Illinois? I guess if you HAD to go to a state school, that's not too bad of one.


Elaine, I don't doubt it for a second. ;-)

Jen, thanks for all the words and welcome! You have been promoted from the world of "lurkers" to the world of "commenters"! Make yourself at home! I'm sure they don't do it intentionally. But the question remains how to best make them aware of what they are doing without completely offending them and causing awkwardness.

claire, I agree that it could be self esteem issues. You might not think it knowing these people, but it does make sense. I'll have to look into that book. Sounds interesting.

kilax, I hope so too.

nicole, I would love to respond like that sometime, but it wouldn't go over so well. Grrr... so needed, though.

Brandon, see? Now I want to give you a beat down!!!! But you're a big guy like me so I could lose. Grrrr... Stupid Bowling Green people. ;-)


I can soooo relate.


It hurts, doesn't it?

The comments to this entry are closed.