Reprinted with the kind permission of Terri Sutula and Reclaiming HOPE.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year….” That song just keeps going through my head as I type this. For me, this IS the most wonderful time of the year. I love all the bright lights, good food, and the way that for the most part, people just seem to be a little nicer this time of year (unless you’re trying to get a parking spot at the mall, then all bets are off!) …Oh, and let’s not forget all the parties and family get-togethers.
These gatherings can be joyous occasions filled with love and peace…..until (insert name here – we probably all know that one person) comes in. Suddenly, the mood in the room changes, and we all start looking for a place to hide. It may not be that drastic, but you get the idea.
Dealing with difficult people is never a pleasant experience, but if we let it, it can ruin the party for us, and in the case of those of us who deal with fibromyalgia, if our “fight or flight” response gets stirred up, it could ruin a couple of days. We can’t guarantee that we won’t encounter any negative people during our holiday gatherings, and we certainly don’t want to miss out on all the fun, so what can we do when we run into these party poopers?
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Here are a couple of tips I’ve found helpful:
- Realize that it’s their problem, not yours. Most people who are hard to get along with are coming from a place of pain. They’re unhappy or insecure, so they (perhaps subconsciously) want everyone else to be unhappy or insecure also. The holidays may be even more stressful for them, and this can make them even more difficult.
- Take a deep breath and count to three before you respond to them. Old advice, but it’s been around a long time for a reason — it works.
- Treat them with respect, even when they don’t deserve it. It’s not always easy, but it says everything about your character when you’re able to take the high road.
- Set clear boundaries. Treating others with respect doesn’t mean you allow them to treat you poorly. You have to ensure you establish what you consider acceptable behavior. If they can’t respect your boundaries, remove yourself from the situation.
- Choose to forgive. Unforgiveness really only hurts the one who can’t forgive. The other person probably doesn’t even give their hurtful words or actions another thought so it definitely doesn’t hurt them.
- Once the encounter is over, do what you need to do to deal with the emotions. Don’t just stuff them down; that’s how a lot of us get into trouble in the first place. I’ve found that prayer and writing are my most effective ways to do this, but whatever yours is, do it. Don’t dwell on it!
We get to choose how we react to each situation and person that we encounter. It’s not always easy to make the right choice, but if we have some tools in our toolbox ahead of time, it’s easier to pull the right one out when we need it. Just try not to use the hammer…. :o)
How do you handle interactions with difficult people? Please share your tips!
After being diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2012, Terri used her knowledge as a certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach to develop a program to help her thrive, not just survive, with her new normal. This program is based on HOPE: Healthy Diet, Optimism, Prayer & Meditation, and Exercise. She writes the blog Reclaiming HOPE with the desire to help others learn to thrive, regardless of their circumstances. You can follow Terri on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.