Coping with Monsters
You know the feeling. You have to see that person. The most annoying person in your life. The monster who is ruining it. You’d rather stay in bed with a pillow over your head. A flu shot would be more pleasant. Your fantasy of a world where this person doesn’t exist occupies more of your thoughts. What should you do?
You can’t change other people, but you can change your
response. Keep your expectations low at first. Notice the things the other
person does right before you start feeling steamed. Write a list if it helps.
With practice, you will get to where you can tell right away when your buttons
are about to get pushed.
In that moment you can make some new decisions:
• You’re not going to play the game anymore. Don’t take the bait.
• If this person is judging you, fire her. Who says a monster is qualified to judge you?
• Make a retirement gift for your monster, and imagine yourself saying, thank you for your hard work.
• Rewrite your monster’s horoscope.
• Use the “as-if” principle. Start treating her as if you already have the kind of
relationship you want. Think of what you wish
you could say. You wish she were more thoughtful and considerate. Tell her she
is! You wish she would take responsibility for the problems she causes herself.
Tell her you admire her when you catch her acting responsible!
Why does the monster bother you so much? Your friends say, don’t let it get to you. Ignore her, she’ll go away. Let it go, it’s not worth the stress. These things are easily said. You’re not a hateful person, and you are disturbed by your own hostility. You don’t want to be a big phony, yet you find yourself acting against your feelings.
Maybe you’re afraid of what the situation says about you. Maybe you’re afraid your negative self-talk is true. These feelings make it harder to keep your composure. Schedule five minutes a day for beating yourself up. Indulge your fear, whine about your bad luck, etc. Then stop until your next scheduled bitch session. Schedule another five minutes for humor. Call someone who always makes you laugh, look at cartoons or funny stories, hang out with your pets or other people’s. Go outside, or open a window. Make something new, or personalize/decorate something you already have.
Remember that you are not alone. It’s likely that your monster bothers a lot of other people too. She could be alienating people constantly, and feel lonely a lot of the time. She may come from a family where her behavior is considered normal. If she’s manipulative and devious, it may be that she doesn’t know how else to get what she needs.
There’s magic in proceeding with the future you want. Your thoughts create a mold that will shape it. Making the space starts pulling in the new reality. Things generally don’t stay the same even when you do nothing, so you have natural processes helping you too.
It may take time for your situation to improve. Even after you begin to see things differently, your brain needs to build permanent connections. While you’re waiting, think of a change you want to make for yourself that is within your control, and focus on it. Your new and improved future is on the way.