Humans. What funny creatures we are. In my time as a coach, the thing I’ve noticed is that all of our weird and perhaps not so wonderful ways generally come from a place of ‘not being enough’. If you dig deep enough, and peel through all the layers of the onion, it generally always comes back to this one thing.
Now this means that, when we encounter other humans who, just seem compelled to push our buttons, the right response would be a deep sense of compassion, yes? As a coach, who is always guiding my clients on the relationships they hold with others, and in particular reminding them that ‘you can’t change others, but you can change your response’ I should most certainly be well-versed in dealing with this.
But every now and then, you encounter someone who really challenges your skills in this way. And that’s okay. We’re not superhuman, we have feelings. Ultimately, it might be a rational point to make that people are only ever the way they are because of deep rooted insecurity, but that doesn’t always make it acceptable to behave in a certain way, and it doesn’t mean that you have to leap into a state of compassion every time it feels like someone has done you wrong.
When things take an unexpected turn
I myself had an interesting experience recently that challenged my ability to deal with someone in an ‘adult’ way should I say. I won’t go into the pernickety details but, ultimately someone I had known a very long time, and was previously good friends with, turned on me. So it was an unexpected occurrence.
And this is where other humans can catch you out if you’re not careful. I’ve had a few friends who have found themselves in this pattern of being befriended by someone, then finding themselves cast out because the ‘friend’ in question decided they had had enough. I counted myself lucky that this had never happened to me. Because let’s face it, it’s not a great feeling to have someone you have built up trust with, suddenly turn on you in this way.
Once I had come out of the shock and upset from it, the questions that came out of it, in my coaching head were… what DO you do when someone turns on you? What do you do, when someone’s behaviour towards you becomes unacceptable? What do you do, when you feel betrayed?
In some situations you would, of course, remove yourself from the situation, and the relationship, altogether. But sometimes, that isn’t always possible. So what do you do in THOSE situations?
Exercising your choice
So many questions. I bang on about choice in life a lot, and we always have a choice. In the instances where the only choice you have is to change your response, what is going to be the most useful approach?
I mentioned earlier, that in times like these it can be easy to think we have to jump immediately into this place of compassion – regardless of how damaging or hurtful someone’s behaviour has been. But that’s not the answer. And while it is important, and you most certainly do need to reach a place where you can feel compassion for another human being, there is a process to follow when you are feeling upset, and diving straight into compassion isn’t necessarily going to be what’s right for you in the first instance. We certainly need that, so save some for later, but right now, what we’ve gotta do is process.
Be with your emotions
I’m not an angry person but in my case, oh yes there was anger. And that’s okay. Be with that. Allow yourself to feel it. Go up to the top of a hill and scream it all out if you really have to. The body is always listening and if you deny your feelings, all it is going to do is absorb them.
When you’ve done your ‘emotional processing’ you then need to start thinking more logically about the situation. What are your options? How can you deal with this most effectively? Can you address the issue with the person in question? If not, how do you want be in this place?
Life is never smooth sailing, but the question is – how can you be the best version of yourself possible, independent of what life throws at you? I must have been processing this in my sleep because when I woke up one morning – ping. That’s when it hit me. Humour.
Humour really is the best medicine
There’s a reason they say humour is the best medicine – because it can get us through the darkest of times. It’s your self-preservation mechanism that allows you to move through issues with a sense of “It’s all good, I don’t have to take this seriously because I’ve got bigger, better things going on in my life.” Getting yourself entrenched in Serious Steve mindset is not going to pay off. It will simply make you retract into yourself and find yourself as the lesser person.
So in your case, dear reader, when you have someone who has really pushed your buttons, and there’s no way of removing yourself from the situation; I’m prescribing you humour. It works a treat, believe me. You can almost view it as if you’re in some kind of comedy sketch. You know the ones where the characters are so out of this world that you just can’t take them seriously? It’s all a bit of a joke. Yes just like that.
Testing it out
So I’m sure, even if you haven’t had a marvellously exceptional blowout with someone right now, there will be someone in your life who knows how to push your buttons – even just a smidge. So before you think about them for a moment, think about one of your favourite comedies that has the most eccentric characters – perhaps it’s peep show, or the inbetweeners, or maybe the office – that’s always a good one. Really connect with what it feels like to be watching that show and just finding the silliness of the characters so funny, THEN – transfer that feeling into your next situation with this person.
In your mind, it’s almost like you are meditating on this feeling of humour in THAT situation, so every time they whip out their triggers, you just have this immediate sense of humour to respond with. How does THAT feel? If you keep practising this, sure enough it will become easier and more natural.
There are of course plenty more approaches you can use, and plenty more ‘hats’ you can try on when it comes to dealing with difficult people but for today I’m leaving you with that – go ahead, laugh your way through and step into the best version of you; independent of anyone else’s weird and not so wonderful ways.