Is there a person in your life now who rile you up just by their very presence? It’s like there’s a radar or sixth sense in your mind that automatically tune to their voice or their body language. Just everything they do or say quickly drowns out the surroundings and, suddenly you are just thinking of one thing, “Let’s get this business done quickly so that I won’t have to see this person a minute longer.” You become quiet, tense, and your worst self, something that you will regret when you reflect afterwards. You don’t understand why that person affects you so much, but he or she just does. How very annoying.
In my life, there have been a few of such people. I disliked them intensely, which is a bad thing, but the upside to the argument is that I still remember them very vividly, which is a wonder because I generally don’t take the effort to commit people to memory.
Thinking back on the reasons I disliked them, they were pretty immature and funny. As a child and later, a teenager, I’ve always had this vicious competitive streak and a mentality that “Failure is not an option, I must ALWAYS win”. It’s no wonder I got emotional when I sensed a threat. If I saw anyone scoring better or being more popular than me, I would direct my evil eye to them (like Sauron in LOTR) and let the green-eyed monster in me grow to an infinite proportion. My mom told me once, after meeting one of my so-called adversaries, that those unfortunate victims of my making never knew what hit them.
Fortunately, despite my excessive jealous streak, it never did reach dangerous proportions. I’ve also had a strong code of honour where I won’t allow myself to resort to backstabbing, manipulation, or other harm-inducing methods. All I did was not smile around them, put on my business-only sign on my forehead, and sulk harmlessly. Anyway, my feelings on those select few people in the past solely stemmed out from jealousy. I’m ashamed to say, it’s usually academic-related. Like I said earlier, I was very petty and immature.
But, that’s the past. Now, in the present, once again, I do have this person in my life too. This time, though, it’s time to be matured about it. To live life with a positive attitude, one should nurture the feelings of mettā (loving-kindness), karunā (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity).
So, to purge this negative feeling, first, I needed to understand it. I talked to my friends and family about it.
My sister, on listening to my ramblings said something along this line, “Well, there will always be people that we will not like. The important thing is what should we do about it? Do we want to ignore the feelings and continue with business-as-usual? Or, do we want to tell the person about it and hope that our honesty will change the relationship to the better?”
In my previous post, Why open communication don’t work (sometimes)?, I wrote a reply to that by saying that I think honesty is not always the best policy here (unless you are with a mediator), and by sharing your honest feelings, you might end up with a more tensed relationship.
If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. ~Mary Engelbreit
So, I figured, since I can’t change that person, all I can do is change myself. So, next step, I needed to know why I disliked this person. Is it because this person is too calm and too unemotional? It’s highly unlikely though because I have other close friends who are very calm, composed, and collected. Maybe, it’s because I don’t trust the person. I have pretty good instincts honed by dealing with people and baking (baking trains your instincts, believe me. Without instincts in baking or cooking, you get charred or terrible tasting goods). With this person, I’ve always had this tingling sensation that something was not quite nice. In a recent situation, I was proven correct. I’ve tried to be understanding and empathetic but it’s difficult to trust a person who used you and still pretended to be ignorant about it.
My old self would have recorded this person’s name in the deep corners of my mind. I’ve always identified with Mr. Darcy when he said, “…I find it hard to forgive the follies and vices of others, or their offenses against me. My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.” But, with my new positive attitude of life, I’m trying to practise loving-kindness (no hate), and equanimity. So, I’ll accept this feeling of mine, and let it go. I’ll put this feeling in my palm, crush it hard, and let it go. Let it go, and let it be. Let it be.
As a promise to myself, from now on, I will not give this person, or anyone at all, the power to lord over me. I will develop healthy relationships where we let each other show our best, honest selves.
“You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself. Everyone’s got problems. You learn from them, you live with them, you move on. It’s choice you make if you want to have a happy life. Nobody’s perfect. People are different and that’s what makes them so interesting.”
— Lorraine Bracco (On the Couch)