Are there people in your life that drive you nuts? Maybe even people in your life who have done terrible or hurtful things to you? People who you can’t even be around with having an altercation or need for one?
What do we do with these people? How do we keep our own sanity while not allowing them to invade our peace of mind? How do you gracefully walk away from attacks by these people and maintain your dignity?
I have some things that I have tried.
One piece of advice I received from a friend was to keep the “law of lowered expectations” at the forefront of my mind. This is based on a Saturday Night Live skit that made fun of online dating agencies. A very obese couple who met via the agency are taking a supposedly romantic walk on a beach at sunset. The girl trips and falls and instead of laughing at her, the couple stare into each other’s eyes lovingly and continue on their walk.
It’s hilarious to think about but it also works for people who constantly hurt your feelings or fail to keep promises. If we tell ourselves that they are not capable of anything better- if we lower our expectation- then when they do something contrary to your lowered expectation it’s like a bonus! Instead of focusing on all the negative, you just expect it and then are pleasantly surprised and able to appreciate the occasional nicety that may just come your way. . . .
Another thing to do is to some how get yourself to feel sorry for the person. This doesn’t mean that you tolerate their behavior because they are mentally ill, abused as a child, etc. This just means that you can wash your hands of their aggravation more easily. You can say no firmly and mean it because a person with that “problem” really doesn’t understand what they’re doing anyway. You can stick up for yourself and not feel bad about it because they are “crazy”. I don’t mean any disrespect to people who are any of the above categories- I know people who are. This idea is just a coping mechanism for those of us who don’t know how to deal with difficult people.
A third idea is to be so nice it makes you laugh hysterically! This works for people who are snobby to you or rude for no apparent reason. When you see these people, go out of your way to say hello! And say it in the nicest most sweet voice you can muster- and smile the hugest smile you can! Then laugh silently in your head because they don’t know what you’re being so nice about! You know the old saying, “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar!”
My final, most serious, piece of advice is to just love them. Pray for them. Ask God to show you ways to show love to them. Sometimes this means simply to keep your distance so there is no cause for arguing. Sometimes this means to politely, with love, express your hurt to them. Sometimes this means to simply give it to God.
God puts difficult people and situations in our lives to teach us something. God knows what it is that we are to learn from it, even if we do not. Christian speaker and author, Beth Moore, shares a story of how God works through us and how he teaches us when she tells others her “hairbrush story”. I’m paraphrasing here but, she is at an airport waiting to board a plane and she sees across the way an old man in a wheelchair with long, matted hair, painfully thin, and just kind of gross. When her eyes fall upon this man she gets this overwhelming feeling that God wants her to witness to him right there in the busy airport. She pleads with God that she will witness to him on the plane but not right here. God continues to give her “that feeling” and so she decides to go to the man. All of the sudden God tells her to brush the mans hair, not witness to him. The man is shocked and amazed at her request to brush his hair but obliges her. As she carefully brushes the rats nest out of his hair, he shares with her that he had been in the hospital for quite some time and his “bride” had also been ill- too ill to be with him. He had not seen his bride in months. When Beth was finished brushing his hair, he thanked her for helping him to look nice for when he sees his “bride” again for the first time. This man may not have had a difficult personality but more of a difficult position in life. Beth did not know why God put in this request until after she had begun to do what He had asked of her.
Pray that God will show you what He wants you to learn from the difficult people in your life or the difficult situations. . .. .He will show you in His time and while you’re waiting he will give you the wisdom to withstand the struggle!