They may have done something specific (or a lot of things), or maybe you don’t know exactly why they bother you. Either way, you dread seeing, making eye contact, or god forbid, interacting with them. And likely, it's not possible to just change your job, your social circle or your family members to simply avoid them completely.
I know, avoidance may seem like the best solution. But here are two good reasons why it's not.
- Avoidance is a temporary solution: Chances are, you’re avoiding said person because you don’t like what emotions and thoughts they bring up in you. Since these emotions make you feel uncomfortable, the natural reaction is to get out of that situation so you can feel comfortable again. Pretending these emotions are not there will not help you. Unprocessed emotions become stronger, ever heard the saying, "What resists persists?" Well, eventually things reach a boiling point. When that happens, watch out. Who knows who will get the wrath!
- The people that bother us are our biggest teachers: Others reflect back to us what we don’t like in ourselves. Often people that irk us are highlighting things that exist in us which we are ashamed of or incredibly fearful of displaying as a trait. Understanding and acknowledging these things gives us an opportunity to heal within ourselves. When you see it that way, avoiding these kinds of people, instead of learning from them, is a missed opportunity.
Since we’re now in agreement that you’re not going to avoid the person, what do you do instead?
First, recognize that you’re not in control of other people or their behavior. From there, recognize that you can change your thoughts and behavior. Here's how.
1. Thank those who bother you (though it's best to do this internally).
Of course, the external thanks could be a bit dangerous. Imagine the following hypothetical scenario: "Thank you Sally, so much for annoying the crap out of me. I can’t stand you, which I now realize is a reflection of the stuff that I can’t stand about myself. It’s been an amazing learning process. Have a great day!"
No need to expand on why this is not the best approach, so do this gratitude exercise in your head. And once you thank them internally for being your teacher, notice if there’s been a shift. It can happen instantly because you are now exuding an appreciative energy, rather than a frustrated energy.
2. Find compassion, and realize that deep down everyone wants the same things.
What are those things? To be loved and accepted. Have a look at the person you’re having issues with and try to understand a little bit more of the why behind the way they act. No need to go all psychologist like and analyze it to death - no offense to psychologists, I get that’s your job and see tremendous value in it in the right setting. For our needs, having an awareness around the why is enough.
Generally, lots of annoying and abrasive behaviors come down to a lack of self-confidence and self-love. And if you can see this side of it, you’re more likely to have compassion for the person and be more accepting of their behaviors. For bonus marks, visualize this person in front of you and surround them in the white light of love and acceptance (i.e. give them an energetic hug).
3. Intend to have a positive interaction.
Chances are, you're continuing to tell yourself a story about why X person annoys you if they did so once upon a time. Even if you don't realize it, you're probably intending to have a negative interaction with them; and in the process, you aren't trying to will things to be better.
So even if it's totally not conscious, consider the mere fact that you could be perpetuating negativity from your own mind. Then from there, set the scene mentally for your next encounter. See yourself connecting, laughing and genuinely feeling grateful for their presence. Or whatever other scene would be your ideal interaction.
Each of these things will bring you into a place of acceptance and a higher energetic vibration, setting you up to attract situations and people that vibrate in a similar state. That’s never a bad thing. You might be surprised how effectively this altered state can influence your relationships, even the challenging ones.
Stop wishing you didn't have to interact with difficult people and stop complaining about their behavior. Take control. Empower yourself by seizing the opportunity for self-discovery and growth, and by choosing to be in a place of higher vibration.
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