Far too much drama is generated over what to do with difficult people we encounter in our lives. In the end it’s really quite simple: fill your life with wonderful people whom you love to be with and who love to be with you. To do anything less is to not value yourself or your life.
There will always be people for whom you feel neutral or those you dislike or who treat you badly. Minimize or eliminate contact with them. If you must work with them develop coping techniques for minimal contact. If they are “family” – I would beg to differ. “Family” is a category for those who cherish, love and care for you. Arbitrary genetic linkage isn’t automatic qualification for the designation of “family.”
“But,” parents often say, “I want my children to know their grandmother (grandfather, aunt, uncle, etc.).” Really? You want your children to spend time around someone who makes you anxious or worse, treats you badly? Rethink this parenting decision quickly. Instead, develop relationships with those you value and who value you, and by extension, will value your children and model healthy, mutual relationships for them. This is good parenting.
To be around people who are difficult will never contribute to your well being – physically or spiritually. Adding relationships of anxiety or hurtful comments & actions to your life will never bring us physical or spiritual health. Only health brings health.
Further, whether others are actually toxic or not is not the point. All that matters is if they are toxic for you. Insanely, sometimes we continue to return and drink the poison – wondering why the other person doesn’t “drop dead” or change 😉
“But what about forgiveness?” Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. You can explain the problem or issue to the other person once. If they are willing to make changes, great. If not, reassess the value of this relationship. Forgiveness is what we do to heal ourselves. The other person needn’t even know we have embarked on the process of forgiving them. Truly, they may not even feel they need forgiving! But we don’t forget. We learn to accept the person for who they are, – as they are. If the way they are doesn’t add goodness or health to our lives, then we need to rethink the necessity of maintaining that relationship.
“To forgive is not to forget, but to remember in a different way – in a way that no longer holds us captive to the past.” (R. Schreiter, C.PP.S.)
Justice begins within.
(Originally published 4-24-11)