Have you ever noticed how some people celebrate your success while others resent it? I have heard these two types of people described as being “balcony people” and “basement people.”
“Balcony people” have a positive outlook on life and high self-esteem. They are the people who cheer you on, encourage you to reach higher and applaud your victories! They want to hold your Oscar, see all the photos of your son’s wedding (even if they were not invited!), and write five-star reviews of your latest book.
“Basement people” are just the opposite. They are negative people who such low self-esteem they are incapable of celebrating another’s success. In an effort to make themselves look and feel better, they put their energy into belittling you – or worse – sabotaging you! They will drop your Oscar, criticize and one-up every detail of your son’s wedding without so much as a glance at the photos and couldn’t care less about writing a review for your book, or anyone else’s book for that matter.
Now, if you are one of those lucky-ducks with feathers thick and oiled enough to let “basement people” roll off your back like so much water, good for you! But, if you are a people-pleaser like I am, you may have a more difficult time dealing with “basement people.”
I remember a time growing up when I first encountered one of these difficult people. She was a member of the chorus I danced with and a saboteur. She would do things like hide my long gloves just before a performance so I would be the only bare-armed dancer in the line. Later, if our director mentioned the bare arms, she would huddle with the other members of the chorus to profess, in not too subtle whispers, “She thinks she is ‘Miss It’ because she has a solo. But I guess she’s not so great after all. Look how she made the entire line look un-professional by performing out of costume.”
When I told my mother about the gloves, she simply said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. She’s just jealous.” Somehow that did not help a whole lot. I did worry about it. I worried about what I may have done to make her so mad at me. I worried I may have said something she took the wrong way. Why didn’t she like me? Why did she say such mean things about me? No matter how nice I was to her, she was always unkind to me. She was an incurable basement person and, no matter what I did, My-People-Pleasing-Button was stuck and I did not know what to do…
Thankfully, since then I’ve discovered:
1. Face the facts! As President Lincoln once said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” The same thing holds true for pleasing people. You can never please all of the people all of the time. Plain and simple, there are some people who are just never going to like you – no matter how hard you try. Accept that and recognize them for who they are. They are “basement people.” Pray for them and move on!
2. Distance yourself. Physically distancing yourself from “basement people” is best but, if it is impossible to steer clear of them, you can still distance yourself mentally and emotionally. Be polite but limit time spend with them. Keep the personal details of your life close. This is especially important when using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Be smart. Don’t give “basement people” ammunition to use against you. Distance yourself, button your lip and guard your heart.
3. Remember who you are and Whose you are. If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, you are the loved and precious child of a jealous God! He is crazy about you, always has been, always will be. He is in the balcony, on your side, rooting for and cheering you on to success! And “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:21
Don’t allow anyone’s “basement” mentality to rob you of that truth, drag you down or slow you down. Keep going. Keep growing and remember who you are.