Difficult people

What do you do with those people who are just plain difficult. You know what I mean. They always have to get their way. They don’t like to share, don’t work and play well with others. They’re petty, stubborn, manipulative, and so on.

If you have a choice, cut their negative energy out of your life.  Sometimes, you’re stuck with them at work, or in an organization or group, but if not, just cut them out.

I don’t mean to sound calloused. In fact, I’d say give them a second chance. You don’t know what has happened to them in the past that may have affected their behavior. But, if you’ve tried to be nice, and they just beat you over the head with the olive branch, then it’s time to give them the boot.

Of course, we often are stuck dealing with these difficult ones, like it or not. I’m not sure what the best answer is, but I know that giving in doesn’t work. Unfortunately, that often happens. The person who talks the loudest and longest, often gets their way by wearing down everyone else, or grabbing the most attention.

The other end of the spectrum doesn’t really do it either. If you fight them on everything, you just end up locked in an endless battle which makes you look bad too. Remember the old saying,  never argue with a fool, lest someone walking by can’t tell the difference.

I guess you have to choose your battles, build alliances, and sharpen your own game.  Hopefully, people will see who the bigger person is.  If they don’t, then perhaps they just aren’t a good judge of character, or they see something of themselves in the bullish one.

I have a situation like that at work. I share equipment with someone on another shift, who has worked there for about 16 years, I think.  Most people in the department have also been there a long time, whereas I’ve been in the department only a year.  The other employees tend to be sympathetic to his cause to some degree, since they all have workstations all to themselves, as he did, before I came along.

I had worked on several different workstations before winding up at the current one. Fortunately, I had already won over the others with my friendly, upbeat, unassuming approach to people and to life. So, it’s not like they side with him, exactly. Some kind of stay neutral, while a few are totally on my side.  I think that’s because I have been understanding and accomodating as the new person, but have stuck up for myself and spoke to someone higher up when needed.

It’s sometimes an uneasy truce, but I’ve learned not to let it bother me. I don’t care how he feels about me, and I don’t like him. As someone who hasn’t always been comfortable with conflict or having others be displeased with me, it’s actually liberating to be unconcerned about the mood or actions of a thorn in my side.

I’ll just keep minding my own business, and resist the temptation to respond in kind to any antagonizing.

Exclusion: Defense mechanisms

I’ve talked about exclusion of the “different” people.  Perhaps there’s a flip side. Maybe you’ve experienced it when you tried to reach out to someone.  You try to be nice, but they act as if they want nothing to do with you, or may even be hostile, or rude. Maybe they’re just a little guarded or aloof. These are, of course, defense mechanisms.

When a person is used to being excluded, or teased or rejected, they are suspicious of everyone and end up pushing others away, because they’re convinced they’ll just end up being hurt.  While no one can blame you if you let it drop at that point, it could be fruitful to give it another shot.  If you’re sincere, they’ll see that.

It shouldn’t be purely out of pity.  Nobody wants to feel pitied. It also shouldn’t be done out of a sense of obligation or an overactive conscience.  If it’s not your forte to be an ambassador to those left out, the “socially challenged”, that’s okay. But if it is your thing, give them a couple chances.

If you’re one of the people who is feeling left out, be ready for opportunity.  Be yourself and don’t assume everyone is judging you or that they think they’re better than you. You must also give them a chance.

We’re all in this together.

 

 

Mental health update

My sister was transported in the wee hours of the morning to a facility an hour and a half away from her home. At least she didn’t have to wait days for it.

I’ll have to drive my elderly parents there to visit on Saturday during the one hour all day that the facility allows visitors.  She’ll probably be there about a week before an insurance company makes the medical decision that she should go home. She will most likely not be ready.

I hope that I make it as a writer so I can help take care of her in the coming years as funding for Medicare and Medicaid is cut down more and more.  It’s scary to think about. It’s enough to think about how my brother and I are going to have time and energy, or be available to help her when our parents are gone.  Hopefully, the services she will need to rely on will still be there. We simply can’t do it all while working full time (with overtime).

I hate to be so negative, but a guy’s gotta vent sometimes. There are good things that come along and make it bearable, and she does have a caseworker who has been helping her to be more independent in the last couple years that she’s had her own place.

I know that I must have faith in God to provide, and I do, but I also believe that God works through His people. We must fight to make things better for all, while we do what we can for our own loved ones.

 

We’re all in this together

With so much division in our nation, right now,  it’s hard for any of us to remember a frequent theme of mine: “We’re all in this together.” I must admit I too have had many an argument on Facebook,  and tweeted or re-tweeted some harshly worded political messages. Some of my social media friends may find it hard to believe, but I’ve actually refrained from posting things many times because I feel like everyone is sick of it.

So how do we breach the divide? How do we, the common folk, the labor force, the consumers, the middle class, work together? Wait, we do it everyday.  At our jobs, at the grocery store, in the doctor’s office waiting room, at the fair or the park, and many times, coming together in a crisis.

I work with one woman who hates Trump and one who whole-heartedly supports him. The funny thing is, I (and many of my coworkers) don’t like the person who shares my ideology, while I enjoy conversation with the opposing one. We never talk politics, but who needs to?

Perhaps, we need a middle-of-the-road third party to replace these privileged politicians, these manipulating players, these bickering bureaucrats.

I think, when it comes down to it, we all want the same thing. Safety, security for the present and the future for our families and friends, and everyone else, and a little extra for fun stuff, and, of course, someone special to share it all with.

Obviously, there’s a great deal of disagreement on how to achieve that, but the answer is usually somewhere in between the extremes. We all feel helpless and angry at different times when major events occur that we have no control over.   Maybe that’s why there are so many social media “debates”. It’s all we can do. Doesn’t help, does it?

Personally, I think we’re all being played by the rich and powerful as they consolidate their wealth and influence. Divide and conquer. We are certainly divided.

So, let’s try our best to remember that we truly are all in this together. We’re all just trying to get by, muddling through as best we can.

Things I learned from my cats

What matters most is how you see yourself. That’s the lesson in a nutshell.  I touched on this a little in my post titled, “A Better Day”.

I’m coming at the topic from a different angle, observing my cats.  My five year old cat, Smokey doesn’t know how big he is.  He’s a bit skittish and shy. He climbs up on my chest to cuddle.  (A lap isn’t good enough.) When he does that, I have to put down my laptop, or else he walks on the keyboard and, invariably, messes things up.  (For example, he once deactivated the keyboard. It took till the next day to figure out that you could still hit shift + enter to get it back, though it seemed like nothing on the keyboard was working. Another time, he turned the screen display 90°.  I didn’t even know you could do that.  I was able to go into the display menu and turn it back from portrait to landscape, though it remains a mystery how he did it with just the keyboard.)  Also, I can barely see the TV over him when he’s sitting on me.

Enter Rex the much smaller, younger little guy my brother and I adopted about a year ago.  Rex is a sweetheart and after about ten days, Smokey accepted him and they get along nicely now.  However, Rex is a little troublemaker at times, picking on the gentle giant, Smokey.  It’s only in play, but he gets a little carried away and makes his house mate squeal sometimes.  Then we have to separate them and scold Rex, sometimes even close him in a room for a while.  The thing is, Smokey could easily kick Rex’s ass.  He has learned to assert himself, and the problem has slowly gotten better.  So, I guess Smokey gets to a point where he’s had enough.

I share these feline antics as a way of relating my own experiences.  I was shy and timid in school, and socially awkward.  Add to that my rather small stature, and you’ve got an easy target for teasing.

Like Smokey, I didn’t realize how big I was.  Not physically, but intellectually, emotionally, and personality speaking. I was blessed with a brilliant mind, a bright and generous heart, and a lovable, witty, fun spirit.  None of this came out until young adulthood.  I started coming out of my shell somewhat the last two years of high school, but was still kind of a lost puppy.  (Awww)  It’s okay. It got better.

Today, I still come across as reserved, and social anxiety does hold me back until I get to know people better, but the shyness and the fear are gone.  Physical lack of energy is a problem at times too, with sleep apnea and Crohn’s disease, but caffeine helps.  ha ha

I don’t resent any of the teasing I took in school because it actually did help push me to change. I realized after getting my associate’s degree in my early 20’s that I had played right into the teasing, making it all to easy. (Not saying it was my own fault.  Just saying I could have changed things.) I was also very alone in my two years at community college, for all the same reasons.  I had no problems with the intellectual aspects at all, but yet was completely burned out at the end.  It made me start analyzing.  Why was it so hard? To quote John Donne, “No man is an island”. I needed a support system. How does one build something you’ve never known? Where to start….

An epiphany came one day at the mall.  Maybe some of you remember the mall store called Deck the Walls.  They sold art and photo prints and the like.  I saw a small matted picture of a kitten looking into a mirror.  The text read “What matters most is how you see yourself”.  Reflected in the mirror, is a lion.  It really struck home, so I took it home.  I mean, after I paid for it, of course. I still have it as a reminder.

It made me see more clearly than ever how one’s persona is perceived by others as a reflection of your own inner image.  Confidence, satisfaction, contentment, happiness.  All things I lacked, therefore did not project.  What I got back from others was a direct correlation to what I was carrying and exuding, or not.

I was just coming into my own in my late 20’s when I hit some health problems.  Getting to work became all-consuming and I eventually had to take a break from it.  Then, I didn’t get much social contact, but things are going much better now.  I sometimes feel like I end up being put in that old “box”, where he’s the shy, quiet guy.  Or, my anxiety makes me feel uncomfortable and pushes people away.  (Nobody likes to feel uncomfortable.) The good news is, I feel like I’m ready to Bust That Box! (I believe I found the topic of my next post.)

Til then, keep going and keep growing!

First impressions (are often wrong)

The first time I waited on an older red-haired lady at work, I hated her.  She was fussy and impatient.  I saw her talking to my manager afterward and assumed she was complaining about me.  I thought she was a real bitch, and wrote her off in my head.

The next time I waited on her she was polite but cool towards me.  I responded in kind.  It went like that for several encounters.  Then one time she greeted me a little less coldly.  I thought to myself that maybe she just was having a bad day the first time I met her.  I tried to be a little more attentive.  She seemed to get it.

Then she was talking to someone else about voting.  (It was near election time last year.)  The conversation had turned to how expensive everthing is getting and she said that she’s on social security since she’s retired and how it’s hard to get by on that.  She ended up saying to vote Democratic so we don’t lose any more.  Since I’m progressive, I was in total agreement.  I let her know I agreed and the next time I saw her we made more friendly conversation.  Since then, we’ve had many more good conversations, including our dislike of antibacterial products and how they aren’t good for you.  A person needs to be exposed to germs to keep your immune system strong.  Plus, those products help create drug resistant super germs.  I commented that it’s all the marketing by companies trying to sell more antibacterial products that’s creating a society of germophobes.  She enthusiastically endorsed my observation.

So, now, whenever I wait on her, I know I’ll have an interesting conversation, if there’s time.  (We get pretty busy at ye olde dollar shop.)  I don’t know if I’d get tired of her if we hung out, but she went from a dreaded customer to a pleasant “regular”.

It makes me wonder how much we miss out on in life when we stick to our snap judgements and treat first impressions as absolutely accurate assessments of a person, written in stone, never to be reconsidered.

What if you met your potential soulmate when you were both having an off moment?  If fate allowed another meeting, as it well might, if you’re meant to be soulmates, would you be open to a fresh start?  A new encounter not based on a single previous meeting?

Of course, I’m not saying to disregard your instincts or intuition.  They often serve to protect you.  If you distrust someone, there may be reason.  I’m just saying that sometimes, this busy, varied, modern life sometimes leads to crossed signals, missed opportunities, and needless animosity.

Don’t throw caution to the wind, but do remain open to your fellow humans for at least two encounters.  You never know what might happen.