Imagine this scenario: A close friend or someone in the family does something that bothers you. It could be a recurring habit they have. It could be the attitude they foster or perhaps, the things they say. I don’t mean if they simply have a different viewpoint than yours but rather if they are being disrespectful, rude or hurtful in their words and actions.
What do you do?
Most people, I would think, do not prefer confrontations. I know I don’t. Most people would either overlook it or change the topic of conversation to something that isn’t so bothersome. And that makes sense. The flight response is often easier than the fight response. But there are some that choose the latter. There are people that call others out on their wrong actions on the spot. They don’t mind creating a scene because they wish to do something about what happened right then and there. It happens more so in movies than it does in real life, but it does happen.
Now I don’t really advocate for one or the other. I believe our childhood experiences, the company we keep and our environments influence us to be one or the other. We often relinquish control and do what feels right because past events have moulded us that way. But I’d like to talk about what comes after.
Are you someone who forgets and forgives? Are you someone who holds grudges and brings those moments up every now and then? Maybe you’d like to think you’re the first option but you have some of the second in you. That’s alright. It’s not a black and white world. There’s some grey in there too. So what comes after?
I’d say the first step is considering distance. I’ve recently distanced myself from people who are not good for me. It’s not all that easy and you may find yourself alone. But the important thing is establishing whether their presence in your life does you more harm than good? Distance can be tricky and has many levels. You need to find the one that works in your case. Some people you can’t avoid forever. You have to see them at some point and unless you wish to be one of those “watch me ignore you” people, you will need to find a better way to co-exist. If you choose to stay close and talk about issues and work on them, then I wish you luck and strong and positive relationships.
If you do decide to add some distance, the second step would be establishing boundaries. What topics are off the table if you do have to communicate? How often do you wish to see them? How long until you try and patch things up? These do not have to be set in stone but they will help steer you as you try to limit the negative presence in your life. Boundaries work because they give you space to think and re-evaluate. They do not have to be the equivalent of building a wall between two people. If there is mutual understanding, they could be lines in the sand that could be swept away as your relationship heals.
The last step in my opinion, is giving people a second chance. I have always put my faith in people, but that may not be the same for you. I find this step to be important because it’s about reconnecting. This step is difficult. It requires a leap of faith with the possibility of a painful landing. You may choose not to and you would be in your rights to do so. Ponder on this when you distance yourself.
I’ve gone out on a limb here and tried something new. I’m not one for doling out specific advice but this is a process that has worked for me in the past. The goal is to surround yourself with the right people. This past year has shown us that extended periods of hardships can come out of nowhere. When so much is out of our control, we must turn to what is.
Taking care of yourself is not a process that will leave everyone happy. You cannot get along with everyone. If something bothers you, you need distance or some positive change. Don’t let things stay the way they are and pretend it doesn’t bother you. That’s just adding more to a full plate.
I wish you all strength, patience and whatever you need to navigate difficult relationships!
Happy holidays! Make sure you wear masks in public places, take precautions and let’s get through this responsibly!