How to Deal With Mean People in Your Life
This weekend I had a very frustrating incident. As I was getting into a taxi, the driver got distracted and started driving off without checking if I had closed the door. Can you imagine my shock when I had one leg inside the car and the car suddenly started moving? I literally jumped inside, but my ankle still got caught in the door. Besides an ugly bruise I got a piece of the driver’s mind about how long it takes for SOME people to get into a car. No “I’m sorry!” No “Are you ok?” Nothing! I am usually good at controlling my temper, but this time all I could think of was how much I want to smack this rude man and give him a piece of my mind about his manners.
Do you often let a rude taxi driver, an uncaring boss, an insensitive co-worker or an arrogant stranger ruin your day? Have you ever wondered why sometimes people purposely say or do mean things?
I could come up with 4 main reasons:
a) They try to overcompensate for their hurt Ego. Someone has hurt them in the past when they felt especially vulnerable and now they are trying to regain their power and self-confidence by hurting you.
b) They secretly fear that they have the same quality that they are making fun of. For example, if a person makes derogatory remarks about someone being overweight, they are most likely insecure about their own body and are afraid that people will notice it too.
c) They are deeply attached to their sufferings and failures. As weird as it may seem, many people refuse to let go of their negativity, because it brings some drama into their life and gives them something to worry about.
d) They crave attention and love. Just like teenagers when reaching a difficult age act out of spite to prove their own independence, adults defy social norms to get attention and a strong emotion out of you (even if it is a negative emotion).
How do you respond to mean people?
I have noticed that there are two spontaneous reactions when it comes to dealing with negative people 1) we get mean and rude back or 2) we let them run all over us while boiling inside with righteous indignation. Neither of these options seems particularly attractive.
In fact there is a better way to deal with mean people – do not let them get to you.
There is a great story on this topic:
“One day a man came up to Buddha and spat in his face. Buddha, slowly wiped of the spit with his shawl and asked, “Do you have anything more to say?” The man was not ready for this question, and ashamed he ran away.
That night the man could not get to sleep, because he realized that he had actually offended an enlightened person. The next morning he came back and fell in front of Buddha on his knees. Again Buddha looked at him and asked, “Do you have anything else to say”. The man was completely puzzled, “Yesterday I offended you and you didn’t get mad, today I am begging for your forgiveness and you are not happy. Why?!” Buddha looked at him with his peaceful smile and said, “Because I am not your Slave”.
You can not enter a lake filled with silt and dirty water and come out clean. When you let mean people drag you down to their level, they start to control your actions and their negativity rubs off on to you.
Think of mean people as huge garbage trucks. They are full of anger, frustration, hatred, disappointments and negativity. When that garbage starts to pile up, they feel the need to dump it on someone else (preferably someone who is in a good mood). If you have been chosen as a dump spot, do not allow them to run over you and do not spread this negativity onto other people.
Refuse to take all angry or offensive comments close to heart. Just smile and wish those people well, because they are the ones who deserve compassion more than anyone else. After all they carry tons of emotional garbage with them 24/7.
I do not like to use the phrase “kill them with kindness”, because it sounds vindictive. If behind your bright smile lays an attempt to provoke the person even further, then you are no better than they are. If you can not be truly kind to someone who is being mean to you, polite indifference will do just fine.
Remember, you do not have to attend every argument that you are invited to. Just say, “No, thanks” and move on to something that brings you joy and distracts your mind from indulging in negative emotions. You can pray, think of your favorite quote, sing a song in your head or just recall a funny story from your past. For example, when I feel irritated I usually repeat my positivity “mantra”. That is the only reason why one infamous taxi driver did not get yelled at.
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