Sometimes, you can’t cut harmful people out of your life. They might be the the annoying coworker at your otherwise dream job. Maybe it’s a family member.
I have one of those people in my life now. Here’s how I deal with the situation.
1. You come first.
I had to learn to put myself first. My feelings, my health, my energy had to come first. Do what’s healthy and good for you.
2. Let go of expectations.
Why do you get upset? Why does that little thing piss you off? It’s because you have expectations. You want the other person to be different. You want them to act different.
Here’s the truth: your expectations will not change them. They will sense your expectations, and they will sense that they are failing at them. They will feel hurt and that will only make them worse.
Expectations are meant to control. But they have the opposite of their intended effect. Your expectations will only squeeze them into more of what they already are.
In severe cases, you may need to lower your expectations so much, that you have negative expectations for the other person. You must expect them to act in ways that hurt and harm. If you expect it, then it won’t surprise you. This will make Step 4 much easier.
3. You can’t change them.
Create proper boundaries. You have no control over other people. You have some influence via your attitude and actions. But influence is not control.
You can’t change them. You can’t fix them. You can’t help them.
All you can do is create a better situation by your own presence and actions.
4. Be like water
Bruce Lee said this about martial arts and about life. Return to the neutral place where you can react to and overcome any obstacle.
The other person will say and do things that hurt and harm. Even if you implement the above three steps, this will still happen. So be like water.
Let the pain enter you. Let it ripple through your heart and mind. And then let it fade. Let the your emotions settle like pond after a stone has been cast.
Responding to anything in anger, with spite and venom, will feel good for a couple seconds. But then the negativity will poison you as well. Remember Step 1. Respond in a way that will energize your emotional health in the long-term.
These steps have served me well over the last 2 years. Would you add anything?