I am fortunate to have mostly wonderful people in my life. Friends I cherish and family I adore. However, I (just like you) also have a few very challenging people in my life.
Let me define someone who is challenging. Anyone who is inherently negative, says mean spirited things to you, doesn’t take the time to listen or ask how you are, and is so caught up in their own stuff they don’t have a clue on how to be a friend.
Do you have someone in your life that fits this description? I’m sure you do– because all of us do. Challenging people are in our lives to teach us our greatest and most difficult lessons: patience, empathy, forgiveness, and understanding.
It’s not easy– these people really push our buttons. It’s most challenging when this person happens to be a relative. Particularly a parent, spouse, or child. We can’t always walk away from those people. They are in our lives until they or we pass on.
It is important to keep in mind when dealing with toxic people that trying to convince them to “see things clearer” or “your way” will never work. Their awareness is at a much lower level than yours. You can’t teach a 3 year old how to be patient. It’s a concept they just don’t have the ability to understand yet. They are simply not aware. It’s not their fault– they don’t know better. The same is true with challenging people. They don’t know better either.
My teacher Avery Kanfer used to tell me, “You want $10 but all that person has to give is $2. You’ll never get $10 from him so either accept the $2 or move on.”
In other words…
Meet people where they’re at.
Don’t try to change them. I guarantee it will not work. Don’t expect they’ll be better each time you see them. You will always be disappointed. Simply decide to let go and accept them for exactly who they are.
This is one of the hardest lessons to learn in life.
Here’s some ideas to help you accept a challenging person:
- If you know your toxic person is a complainer or mostly unhappy keep your communication and visits to a minimum.
- Meet them outside in nature. Nature is always balanced so it will help neutralize them.
- Get together with this toxic person with people you enjoy so you can still feel okay.
- While you are with this person repeat positive affirmations to keep you from losing your cool. “I am learning patience”, “I accept Brent as he is.”, “I am okay”.
- Participate in an activity that you both enjoy so you don’t have to have any real conversation. Go golfing, bowling, shopping, see a movie, visit a museum together.
**Sometimes a toxic person is really damaging. If all they do is take shots at you and try to put you down– take care of yourself first and let the relationship go. Tell them, “I wish you well however, I will not allow myself to be your punching bag. If later you realize how poorly you’ve treated me and wish to make amends I will allow you back into my life.”
Accepting a person where they’re at is a great accomplishment. It’s not easy and requires great patience. But if you can meet people where they’re at you receive the gift of inner peace. And ultimately that’s what each of us wants.
Hilary of Hilary’s Mindful Living