Editor's note: This article was originally published on Anna Elizabeth's blog, Love You Little One. It has been republished here with permission.
Everyone has at least one person in their life, or has come across someone, who gets their joy out of trying to make others miserable. If you don't have someone in your life like this, lucky you, but everyone at least knows someone like this. My first advice would be to avoid this person at all costs, and rid your life of them. No, I don't mean kill them, I simply mean run far, far away. Now, some people, like me, cannot do this. Sometimes the person is a part of your life (or family) whether you like it or not, and the only choice you have is deal with it somehow.
I have to deal with someone like this on a weekly basis, and _it is hard_, no denying that. I'm not perfect, and everything takes time. I'm not going to deny that I have to use all my self-control at times to not spew out every cuss word known to man, out of sheer disgust with this person. But, what I have learned from the ups and downs in my almost 30 years on this earth and my crash course on having a blended family, is that time and patience are your best friends. I've also learned, it is always in your best interest to try to be the better person. Here is a list of the five things that have helped me be the better person, when I really would have liked to tongue lash the other party to death. So just in time for the holidays, here are the five things that have kept me half sane dealing with these types of people.
1. "Never waste your words on those people in your life who only deserve your silence. Sometimes, the greatest show of strength is to say nothing at all."
Silence is sometimes the best weapon you have. Pause for a moment and breathe. When we are being personally attacked, sometimes our "fight or flight response" kicks in. Most of the time the other person wants to get a rise out of you. Don't give them the pleasure. Sometimes you say it best when you say nothing at all. That should be a country song! Oh wait, it is. I've gotten really really good at biting my tongue.
2. Kill them with kindness
This saying has been around a long, long time and it's easier said than done! The last thing you want to do to your enemy is be kind to them. What you really want to do is scratch their face off. Well, that's just me who wants to do that, but you get the idea. I have not scratched anyone's face off, nor do I intend to. Instead, I try to swallow my pride and try to be kind (Keyword here is "try." I'm a work in progress, but it's starting to work). You'll start to notice that when you set the intention to extend loving kindness to everyone (even your enemy), you'll get a lot more back in return. You may not get it back from your enemy, but you'll feel better being kind, than being nasty in the long run.
Everyone needs a little vent session now and then. Maybe you know someone who can offer some insight on how to deal with them. Surrounding yourself with support, will help you become more confident. Also, if this person is truly difficult to work with, having a couple of people to echo your concerns gives you some added legitimacy.
4. Try to empathize
Try to have empathy for your enemy. "WHAT??!" Yes, this does help, although the thought of that may make you cringe. Think about why they might be acting this way. If you can gain a little insight as to why a person may be like this, it may help you deal. It never hurts to try and put yourself in their situation and think about the other side. They may be crazy and they may be difficult, but at least try to have a little empathy. These angry and hateful people are miserable. Deep down, I do feel bad for them, and for the reason they are that way.
5. The most important one of all: Let go of anger
Holding on to anger and being bitter takes a lot of energy. In general, angry people are tired and miserable. They hold onto grudges and onto hate, and that is a tiresome job. It's so much work carrying around all that heavy baggage. It takes much less energy to let it go and move on. When you let go of your anger, you take back control of your emotions, and take control away from the other person. YOU have control of your emotions, not them. This is an empowering thing, and letting go of anger and hate will only free up more emotional real estate in which you can be happy. Happy people do not hate, they let go. If the other person wants to be hateful and miserable, let them be, and don't let them bring you down with them.
With the holidays upon us, so many of us are faced with stressful situations and uncomfortable encounters with family and friends. Writing this post was a good reminder for me to keep my cool. I wish everyone a stress-free and safe holiday. There are so many blessings around us, it's better to deal with these difficult people in the best way we can, and then let it go and focus on the many good things in our lives.
Anna Elizabeth is a mother to a spunky toddler, and a wife to an amazing traveling musician in Music City, USA. Anna also works full-time as a marketing specialist, and enjoys writing, photography and graphic design.