I’m very pleased to say that my PIP tribunal was successful and I’ve received the back pay I was owed. As a result, I’ve started buying the aids and adaptations I’ve needed for more than a year. One of the things I’ve ordered is a leg raiser, to help me with my PoTS. Once I’d placed my order, I messaged the seller to ask about what I need to fill in because I am eligible for VAT relief. The email I received back told me that “I assume you need to contact HMRC.” This response prompted me to cancel my order. It also lead me to think about all the things we assume and the effect they have on others. After all, it’s not all about you.
The reason I was annoyed with the seller’s message was that they ‘assumed’. It’s their job to know, or at least take the time to find out. I’ve had to fight really hard for my PIP money, and I’m not prepared to VAT on a product when I don’t have to. Previously when anything’s been bought for me, the seller provides a form to fill in and then we’re reimbursed the VAT. I’ve never had to contact HMRC. I’m not even sure they would deal with this!
This isn’t the only incident where someone’s assumed something without checking their facts. I’ve seen a few things popping up on social media where an assumption has been made about something someone’s said. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make assumptions. They’re necessary for us to make sense of the world. We don’t have the time to process everything and fact check every little detail. We’re built as creatures who learn from previous experiences in order to keep us safe, but this can impact the assumptions we make about the world.
We’ve all come across that person who makes EVERYTHING about them. Sometimes to the point of being narcissistic. It’s frustrating when all you want to do is shout at a person “It’s not all about you!”
Something I’ve noticed, particularly amoung the chronic illness community, is that sometimes comments that are meant in solidarity come across as self centred. One person tweets something and they get a reply along the lines of “I get that too, but [insets personal experience].” Sharing our own experience can be meant as supportive. They show the other person that they aren’t alone and that you understand. However, at times it can come across as ‘I’m sicker than you/have it worse than you.’ I say this not in relation to a particular conversation or person, but general experience and from things I’ve seen on twitter.
At the end of the day, it’s not all about you. So when I respond to tweets or comments in solidarity, I try to include some words of support as well as my own story. You’d be surprised how far an “I’m so sorry you’re going through this” goes.
I guess the point of this post is to say that it’s not all about you. Sometimes when people make assumptions about a situation, they make it all about themselves. They may not mean to, but that’s how it comes across. So it’s worth taking a moment to think about other people’s motives in what they say and do. Avoid jumping to a conclusion that may not be accurate. It’s not all about you, so don’t make it that way.
Think someone’s deliberately avoiding you? Chances are they’ve just been busy. Before you jump to conclusions, why not pick up the phone and ask them if they’re ok. Making accusations in situations like this can be upsetting for everyone involved. Do you want to be that person? Remember, it’s not all about you!
I will just add a caveat in here, that this can be a particularly difficult thing to do when you’re affected by a mental illness. A mental illness can take over what your rational brain is telling you. These are issues that a person has no control over and can’t be overcome easily.
So when your’e on social media, or talking with people in real life, have a think about how you’re coming across. Don’t get too deep with these thoughts though, because that can hit your self-esteem. But don’t stop there. If someone says something that you think comes across as all ‘me-me-me’ take a moment to consider whether this is how it’s meant.
We all need to be kind to one another, but also protect ourselves from being hurt. It’s a hard thing to balance, but if you know it’s not all about you, it can be a little easier to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
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