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  • T.R. Robinson

How to Overcome Negativity and Deal with Difficult People!

Have you ever experienced a time when you had to deal with a difficult person? Have you lost sleep because you couldn’t stop thinking about the argument you had with a loved one or how you handled a negative situation the previous day? Have you wasted Emotional Energy doing the following:

You toss and turn all night going over in your head “I wish I said this or that instead?” Maybe you start going over the “next times.” “ Next time I will let them know how I really feel, or the next time I will put them in their place.” You glance up at the clock on the end table in your bedroom and the glowing numbers reveal 1:30 am. Ok, back to your thoughts for the next time. You create a mental outline of the next time action plan. You edit…edit…edit…and edit in your thoughts. “What if” scenarios arise and fall. You roll over and take another look at the clock. The clock glares back 4:17 am.

You think, “should I try and get some sleep, or should I just get up and make some coffee, it is almost morning anyway?” The end result of wasting this emotional energy is stumbling through the next day mired in a “mental fog.”

Why do we sometimes dwell on the negative? Why do we give power to difficult people or negative circumstances to run our lives? For some reason, it is a choice we make. We actually choose to let people, difficulties, disappointments, and negative circumstances hijack our thoughts.

I know the following may sound crazy and you will think I should seek professional help, but I used to let the memory of one play in one football game in 1978 replay over and over in my mind. It was my sophomore year, and I was the kicker on the Baldwin-Wallace College Yellow Jacket football team. We were in the midst of competing for the NCAA Division III National Championship Title. On this particular Saturday in the middle of the season, I was attempting to kick my 28th consecutive extra-point.

I took my eye off the ball so to speak and the kick sailed wide right. I missed my one and only extra-point kick that season. As years passed my memory dwelt on the missed kick. Did I remember the other 54 extra-point kicks I made that season? No! It was the recollection of that one missed kick that would sometimes haunt my psyche in the middle of the night stealing my sleep. I did, however, overcome this wasting of Emotional Energy.

What is the solution to wasting emotional energy? For me, it has been all about making choices. First and foremost is the belief God is on my side. He is fighting my battles. When the Almighty is for you who can stand against you? It says in the Bible we overcome evil with good. Faith in Christ allows one to stay in peace and maintain joy in troubling times or when confronted by difficult people. You don’t have to be controlled by negative circumstances or difficult people. You have the freedom to choose.

Focusing positive energy on reaching your goals instead of responding to difficult people or circumstances is a critical step in stopping the outflow of emotional energy. Try this technique the next time you feel stressed. Let me illustrate the technique by providing you an example from my life. I have a passion for writing. It is my goal to have a positive impact on the lives of others through my writings. Writing books, blogs, short stories, and articles is a resource I can tap into when faced with difficulties. I can focus positive energy on writing anytime, and anywhere I need to. What are your goals, what do you have passion for? Find it! Own it! Use it!

Realize that people who are difficult may be facing problems and you are the unfortunate recipient of their inability to deal with their own personal issues. An incident I witnessed at the Broadview Heights; Ohio post office years ago illustrates this point. While waiting in the line to mail some packages, A woman burst through the doors and shoved people out of the way as she ran towards the counter. She was yelling at the clerk and using all sorts of language not suitable for public discourse. The clerk was extremely stressed and all of us standing in line could actually feel the tension in the air. Finally, a supervisor emerged from the back and calmed things down.

The difficult and irate woman was trying to locate the address of the Army recruiting station in a nearby industrial park. She had an argument with her daughter who was now threatening to leave home and enlist in the army. The stressed-out woman wanted to find her daughter, apologize, and stop her from enlisting in the military. She had been driving around the industrial park for over an hour and could not locate the station. The supervisor took her aside and offered to help the woman find the station personally. I could feel the stress balloon deflating immediately. The woman was now calm and actually quite pleasant. What I am saying is this: don’t take the actions of people personally. The irate or stressed-out person may be unleashing the tirade towards you as a result of their own personal problem. I am not implying you simply roll over and take the abuse. However, you don’t have to respond in kind, instead, you can choose not to participate. As a Star Trek fan, I will suggest a technique used by all captains when facing an unknown enemy or battle as an analogy, “raise the shields.” Keep your stress level low and you can respond better to any difficult situation or person.

I was watching a sermon by a pastor on YouTube recently talking about dealing with difficult people. He used the antagonistic relationship that exists between the eagle and crow to provide an example from nature on how to deal with difficult people. Crows, being quick and agile will annoy the eagle by flying close. Being slower and unable to out-maneuver the crow, the eagle will instead fly higher and higher reaching an altitude where the crow cannot fly. The message? Rise above the situation.

Finally, don’t give power to negativity. Spend your emotional energy pursuing your goals and dreams, not responding to every offense. Successful people focus on their purpose. Negativity is just background noise.

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