At some point in time, we all have to spend time with people we just don’t like. Whether it’s a family member, colleague, in-law, best friends boyfriend or even that toxic person you really can’t drop due to circumstance. It’s crappy and it is a fact of life. I recently spent some time in this situation with not one but many people I don’t like, click with and/ or generally bore me beyond the point where pulling out teeth without anesthetic would be preferable. It happens.
However, this last session really got me wondering how the heck am I going to continue to cope with this. Because of the circumstances, I cannot simply drop these people.(Even though I know that is the best and safest policy with toxic people). So I have to put up with these occasions resurfacing, and I simply can’t play the sick card too often. So what to do? How do you cope when you have to be around people you just don’t like? How do you keep both your sanity and integrity in these situations?
As always I turned to the internet for support. And as usual, it gave me the objectivity to remember and find, the inspiration I needed. I imagine I am not the only person in the world with this particular issue so here for your sanity are the gold nuggets of the vast amount of advice out there that has either worked for me in the past or I intend to try out in the future.
Accept that you don’t have to like everyone
You don’t have to like everyone and vica versa. It really is ok not to like your husband’s sister, the colleague that shares your cubicle, or your Auntie Ida for that matter. We all waste a lot of energy beating ourselves up for things we perceive ‘we should’ be doing. Tell yourself it’s ok and move on.
Find the why
There is a reason you don’t like a person or persons. Find out what it is. Often when we don’t like someone it is because that person reflects back a part of personality we don’t like or are ashamed of in ourselves. This is a great place to do some self-development. However sometimes we just plain don’t like them. If we know why it’s easier to deal with and do damage limitation so you don’t place yourself in a situation where those irritation buttons are likely to be pressed.
Vent in the right places
Now when you don’t like someone you often will need to vent and do an emotion dump of the frustration and irritation that person’s presence creates in you. You need to do something with this emotion and that needs to be in the right place. No bitching to your co-workers about your toxic colleague, or your husband about his Mum. It’s gonna create issues and generally will not improve your life quality or people’s perceptions of you. Have a neutral friend who you can vent these emotions with. Get it out, whether through talk or type, release these emotions so they don’t eat you up from inside.
Find the game
There is always a game. You just have to look for it. One of my favorites around toxic people is to use language to deflect their passive aggressive or manipulative comments. So if for example, they refuse to come to a social gathering because so and so has been invited, I will respond by saying something like “that’s a shame. However, I am sure you will enjoy the pictures”. Ping! Emotional blackmail deflected. There is always fun to be found if you look for it.
Boundaries and Breaks
Boundaries are really important when it comes to having to spend time with people you don’t like. So choosing how often you have to do this. For example, do you have to go to all of your partner’s family gatherings or can you limit it to the major ones? Plan a strategy for visits. Let’s say it’s a member of the family you can’t get out of seeing who drains you. Invite them over for a cuppa, but make sure you have an appointment you have to go to so that the visit is naturally a short one.
Equally, make sure to give yourself breaks. Especially after you have spent time around these people. It is energy draining so give yourself a chance to recharge your batteries. Of course, this can be more challenging if the person is someone you see on a day to day basis, say at work. However, even in a busy office, it is possible to plan some breaks. So you can keep your interactions on schedule as a part of a time management and productivity strategy.
Choose your battles
Some battles are not worth taking. Some are. If the people you don’t like are related there are potentially many different battles that can pop up daily. Do you need to take all of them? Check in with yourself before you push back in the fight and see if this is really important to you, or are you just being caught up in the drama of it all. If it doesn’t affect your core values, the things that are really important to you in life is it worth using up your energy on a conflict. Remember fire needs fuel to burn, if you don’t feed it will go out.
Take the conversations
Sometimes, however, you do have to take the conversation with the person/people you don’t like. Boundaries get crossed. So instead of letting it fester and rot, take the conversation. Work out what you want to say before it. And say it carefully in non-accusatory language. Try this combination: When you do X it makes me feel Y and could you do it (this way) in the future. Talking about the issues however hard will dust out the cobwebs and you may often find out that your assumptions about a person’s behavior were actually completely wrong.
We all have a limited amount of energy. And spending time with people we don’t like does hit that I could be doing something so much better with my time frustration button. So to avoid feeling like a trapped victim when you have to be around and interact with people you don’t like, take charge. Choose where and when you use your energy, how you will use it. Trust me you will feel 100% better if you do. Why? Simply because you will be more authentic in how you are using this time. The falseness of spending time with people we don’t like is often the most draining part of the whole business. Taking conscious action about the situation removes the false factor and that in itself will bring a form of peace.
Have a great weekend <3