We all have negative people in our lives. While we may or may not be able to do anything about their presence, we CAN work with our minds around them, and we might even learn to appreciate what they have to teach us.
Here are some things to remember when dealing with our rascals.
1. Remember that it’s not your job to like everyone.
First of all, give yourself a break. There are more than seven billion people on the planet, and it’s simply not possible for us to love every other person in the world. It’s okay not to like someone.
2. Remember that someone DOES love that rascal, even if it’s not you.
Believe it or not, there really IS at least one other person, of the same seven billion on the planet, who likes this awful person. (Really? Ick! I want my money back!)
3. Remember that they show us our shortcomings.
Ugh, you mean we’re like THEM in some way? No way! Yeah, it makes me want to squirm, too, but we’re all moving through the same soup of subatomic mirrors. This means that if negative people show up in our lives, we are offering something unpleasant to all those little mirrors. The good news is, we can use this opportunity to figure out what we’re offering—and then stop!
4. Remember to look for the root of the problem.
Think about why the universal mirrors might have brought this rascal into your life, and why the mirrors might have brought you into theirs. If this person is judgmental, do you detest being judged? If they are manipulative, do you hate being manipulated? If they are showoffs, could you have a bit of a jealous streak?
5. Remember that they inspire us not to be like them.
There’s nothing like negative people to motivate us into being better, is there?
6. Remember that these negative people probably want to get away from you as much as you want to get away from them.
But remember the mirror thing? You’re actually keeping them in your experience by paying attention to them. So stop holding the poor things prisoner with your complaining and hatred. Set them free!
7. Remember to create boundaries.
Setting “boundaries,” as we usually think of them, doesn’t really work all that well. When you tell your children, “don’t do that,” don’t you just KNOW they’re waiting until your back is turned?
Instead, think of “boundaries” as setting boundaries on what you pay attention to. Your attention is the same as your respect, and you can “set a boundary” around that person by deciding that they don’t deserve your respect, and therefore your attention. It’s sort of like encasing them in Teflon. You can think about them, but you can also choose whether or not your thoughts actually stick to them.
8. Remember to focus on common ground.
If you see or have to work with an irritating person on a regular basis, try using a project you’re working on or something you have in common, such as sports, as a way to deflect your attention away from the stuff that gets under your skin. “So, what about those Broncos?”
9. Remember to focus on stuff we like.
Think about something that you like about this rascal. Yes, it really is possible to find SOMETHING to like—try harder. What about that scarf they’re wearing? Or the car that they drive? How about their kids—even though their kids are probably some of those crazy people who actually LIKE them. But are their kids nice?
10. Remember to reach for compassion.
Negative people weren’t always the way they are now. Try imagining them as a baby, just as innocent and helpless as we all were when we first came into this world. What happened to them? Could it be possible that something similar happened to you?
The thing about the negative people in our lives is that, like any other bad experience that is hard to ignore, they force us to grow by making it uncomfortable to stay where we are. We can then either keep ourselves in our discomfort by complaining about the situation and hoping that someone comes to our rescue, or we can allow ourselves to move into the new comfort zone by letting go.
This is the rascal’s true gift to us.
Featured photo credit: Hate & Anger/Timothy Vogel via flickr.com