HOW I DEAL WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE: PERSONAL LIFE
We all have been intentionally or unintentionally hurt by people in our lives. At this stage in my personal life, a source of hurt is feeling judged by those closest to me; someone is questioning my choices and I don't feel emotionally supported around them. Maybe someone is looking at your career choice, parenting decisions, life partner, or recreational activities and making misguided judgments.
Professionally, there will always be people who misunderstand you, colleagues who are out for their own motives, and unsatisfied customers (no matter how hard you try). People will lash out and make personal attacks when they are frustrated, defensive, sick, or not feeling confident in their abilities.
What do you do with these people who hurt you? The easiest solution would just be to avoid them for most of the time, we can not change others. But, usually the people who hurt us the most are the ones that we are closest too and it may not be easy to completely cut them out of our lives.
This week, someone accidentally sent me a text about myself that was intended for someone else. They immediately called, owned it, and apologized, but it was still very hurtful. When I read the (LONG) text, I was hurt but also sort of flabbergasted. The contents contained such exaggerations of the truth and one thing that was totally untrue (and the person was sitting right there when it happened)! Long story short, I realized that I could never change this person; I think some of it is how they are, and some of it was her fulfilling a desire to bond with another person by gossiping about someone. And they picked me - lucky me.
Last year, something similar happened with this person, and I was not able to let it go right away. I dwelled on it for months and wasn't able to make any sort of contact; many of the accusations then were misguided as well, but I just felt so hurt, angry, misunderstood, and unsupported at a time where I needed supportive people in my life that I had a lot harder time getting over it. This instance reminded me of that hurt, but it was empowering to be able to give this person a hug and let it go.
What is forgive and forget? Let me tell you, I do not view it as a sign of weakness. It takes a great deal of emotional strength to forget when someone has hurt you.
For me there a few things that I have to do and not do to get past a hurtful circumstance:
Acknowledge the pain that you feel
If you sweep emotions under the rug, they will just resurface later. Think about what insecurity or fear the hurtful comment or action is triggering.
Don't dwell on what hurt you
After you acknowledge and identify the emotions, don't dwell on them. What I mean is that you do not have to tell every person that you come into contact with what has happened. Replaying what happened will only increase the intensity. Yes, you will receive a little release and validation, but it will also keep the feelings alive.
In the case of the text message above, I didn't tell anyone this time around, but in the past, if I really need to work through the emotions or get something off my chest, I've talked to one or two trusted colleagues and/or friends. Talking to one or two people about what happened is different than everyone you come into contact with. And doesn't it seem like the story gets more elaborate every time you tell it?
Surround yourself with people who love and support you
The next morning, I was still feeling pretty hurt and I called my best friend. I didn't tell her what happened, but just connecting with her brought back the feelings of support that I needed.
Think about your boundaries
The instance last year was a great way for us to step back and set some familial boundaries. Setting boundaries can be hard but they are healthy and we need to learn to set them without feeling guilty.
Focus on yourself
Being angry only hurts me. It is very hard to let some things go, but I also feel stronger when I do. It can be frustrating when well-intentioned people say "just take time for yourself"! Sometimes you don't have childcare or the time or energy. I find though, that I react a lot better to situations when I am not emotionally and/or physically drained. Do what you can do - even if it just going to bed early one night.