We all have people in our lives who make us feel just downright happy when we are around them.
They are easy to be around, they share our interests, they are kind and thoughtful, and we respect them. Let’s call them “happy peeps”.
Most of the people we choose to be in our life, our family or friends for example, should be active and happy, don’t you think? I mean, hey, why chose friends who aren’t friendly? because well with family you dont have a choice 😛
(Just as a side here, I’d like to remind you to take really good care of the “happy peeps”. Be a happy person right back at them. These folks are to be nurtured and treasured.)
As much as we want happy people in our lives, it often happens that not-so-happy people appear in our circle to gum up the works.
In fact, some of those not-so-happy people can be right in our own families.
Lots of times they work with us, or they are the partner’s of our friends, or we are put with them in some situation or circumstance that is unavoidable. And sometimes, darn it, we do choose them and hang on to them for some ungodly reason that makes no sense, at least on the surface.
There are various levels of difficulties with these people, but they all have the capacity to stir up and bring out our worst traits. Let me rephrase that.
We allow our peace of mind and equanimity to be challenged when interacting with them.
Because that’s the truth of it, isn’t it? These people can push our buttons, but only if our buttons are turned on. Only then can they WIN.
Granted, it is no easy task not to get sucked up and twisted around by unpleasant, negative types. It happens to me all the time.
Sometimes the difficult behavior comes in the form of a comment or a unnecessary conversation, so subtle that you don’t realize you’ve been sliced to the quick, until you feel the sting. I am always, always taken by surprise by this under-the-radar approach, and it makes me so upset that I can’t respond to passive meanness without looking small myself. I’d rather they be overtly rude and loathsome. Make it simple for everyone and finish it.
Let’s face it, it’s easy to get along with easy people. But it is so very hard to be the person you want to be when the weight of a negative personality is dragging you down.
This is a task, and I mean a real task, of proactive decision making on your part. You have to start with the decision that you will be the person you want to be in spite of the behavior you encounter and the feelings it stirs up.
I’m not suggesting that you just belly-up and take it. But I am suggesting that there are ways to prevent these people from pulling you into their sphere of unhappiness, lazy and boorish behavior.
These are hard things to do. They take self-reflection and a willingness to deal straightforwardly with very uncomfortable situations. If you are reading this then you probably aren’t someone who just sweeps problems under the rug.
If you want to manage these people and reclaim some peace of mind, I present these ideas for your consideration:
1. Know yourself. And know it WELL.
Define in writing the person you want to be. What are the elements of your character, integrity and values that you want to reflect to the world in your words and actions? Now, define how you’d like that person to respond when faced with the not-so-happy-and-lazy peeps.
Have a mental character readily available that you can step into like a suit (call it the “Iron Man” suit) when your reactive feelings start to take over.
2. Letting go of these peeps
Remember the part about choosing your friends? Well, you can also choose to let them go. If someone is truly draining you or hurting you and is not attempting to correct their behavior, then by all means, let them go. This does not have to be a dramatic production (just a drum roll in the back could also do the trick :P).
Depending on the circumstance or person, you can let them fade out of your life or you can kindly tell them that you need a break for your own well-being. They probably won’t take it well, but are you surprised? That’s one of the reasons you are letting them go. This is an unpleasant task, but it won’t take long.
3. Have “The Talk”
There are some people in your life you are not ready to let go. You want to give them a chance, but realize that people generally aren’t mind readers. You have to tell them you have a problem; also how it can be fixed.
Remind yourself of who you want to be and how you’d like to be treated if you were the that person. Speak from the heart about your feelings without attack or blame. Give the person the opportunity to correct the behavior. It may take time, and you must decide how much time you are willing to give. This might be different person to person and also situational.
4. If a Boss, have a strategy. Wars need one.
One of the worst situations in the world is having a boss who is irrational. You are already in the inferior position with the boss/employee dynamic. Couple that with a boss who is degrading or lazy or unethical, and you have the makings for one of the most unpleasant relationships of your life. How you navigate this is quite tricky; read you-might-end-up-screwed.
If your boss is unethical, consider getting out as soon as possible, even if you have to deliver pizzas for a while, perks happen to be free pizzas 😛
A job is never worth compromising your integrity. If your boss is mean or lazy, and you feel you have to stay in the job, then arm yourself with a calm and steely reserve.
Don’t respond to baiting or sarcasm — in fact, silence speaks volumes. Walk away if necessary. If comments or behaviors are untrue or degrading, calmly correct untruths or state that you cannot accept being spoken to rudely. It’s never a bad idea to document these behaviors for your own protection. Working for someone you don’t respect is a drag. Eventually you should leave.
5. Maintain one arm distance
A family member or relative is quite hard to remove from your life completely. Letting this person go might mean letting go of other people in your family whom you love and want to see. But you can limit the time you spend with certain people.
Stay in a hotel rather than in a family home trapped when visiting. Spend time with other family members or engage in any other activity when you are around them.
Proactively decide how many times a year you are willing to see this person and for how long.
Communicate your decision to others in your family whom your decision might impact. As hard as this may be, limiting exposure to these peeps empowers and strengthens you during the times you are around them.
6. Visualize a Barrier
Think about an invisible, unbreakable wall between you and them. Visualize their negative words and actions bouncing off this wall like arrows on a stone fortress. They simply fall to the ground.
Now visualize that same wall absorbing all of your negative reactions. When you feel anger or hurt in response to this person, imagine the wall absorbing those feelings and making the barrier even stronger. Behind the wall, be calm and peaceful.
7. Empathy – Exercise it!
This is hard to do for someone who is genuinely a real pain in the posterior chain (oh it rhymes!). But accept that this person is doing the best they know how to do in the moment. People are where they are on the ladder of introspection and personal growth. You can’t pull them up the rungs even if you wanted to. They must want to climb it themselves. Even god only helps those who help themselves.
People are complicated and have layers of hurts and disappointments that hold them back. Sometimes bad behavior is usually just a symptom of a deeper wound. Have empathy for that.
8. Focus on peace
Practice activities that help you stay centered and calm. Meditate regularly, practice yoga, exercise, walk in nature, listen to peaceful music, breathe deeply, eat healthy, etc.
Practicing peace is the best proactive thing you can do to help you stay centered when you encounter such people. Its vital to build your reserves of calm, so you won’t be as quick to react.
9. Create a pool of your “Happy Peeps”
Seek out and nurture relationships with people who fill your cup and enliven you. The more people you have like this in your life, the more emotional and mental support you have as a barrier between you and Mr. or Ms. Mean.
If your life is generally happy and fulfilled, then a few bad apples shouldn’t spoil the whole bunch. Don’t let them.
10. Seek Help if Needed
I have a few friends whose partners are the bad apples. Oh my, this is such a difficult dynamic.
We all need our partners to be kind and supportive and loving. But when they aren’t, it’s nearly impossible to let them go completely. The pain can be deep and scarring.
Sometimes only a professional can help you navigate these murky waters. Seek this help willingly so that the pain from this dysfunctional relationship doesn’t infect your “happy peeps” or your own soul.
Dealing with such people is never easy, but it is an unpleasant task well worth the investment of time and emotional energy.
When you set boundaries or even let go of people who do not support and nourish you, you reclaim a part of yourself.
You discover energy and well-being that allows you to evolve into the best person you can be – for those around you and for yourself .