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Trying To Deal With Difficult People?

Make no mistake, interacting with difficult people can take its toll on most of us and if any of your family members, friends or colleagues have what I’ll call high-conflict personalities you’ll know exactly what I mean!

There are lots of reasons why some people have these sort of personalities – some are deep-seated personality characteristics, maybe from trauma in their earlier lives, but there can be many other reasons and also an element of people recognising early on that being in a mood, flying into a temper or sulking gets them what they want.

There are lots of reasons why some people have these sort of personalities – some are deep-seated personality characteristics, maybe from trauma in their earlier lives, but there can be many other reasons and also an element of people recognising early on that being in a mood, flying into a temper or sulking gets them what they want.

As with so many issues, there are three different ways of dealing with this – either you carry on putting up with unreasonable behaviour (along the lines of “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”), leave the situation which isn’t always easy, particularly if family is involved, or the option I prefer – dealing with the situation in a different way. Or, in a nutshell – same, leave, change.

If you’ve decided to carry on carrying on, fair enough and, let’s face it, a lot of us feel we have limited choices regarding leaving whether it’s in your workplace where you’re dealing with a difficult colleague or manager or in your family where you don’t want to ‘leave’ as it’s too drastic and you don’t want to lose contact with people you love.

So, first of all you have to work out what changes you want to make and then assess how emotionally mature the person you find difficult is – do they have the necessary characteristics to take responsibility for their actions? Are they emotionally mature? You have to take this into account before attempting any changes which will have to come from you – other people don’t necessarily want to change, but think about it like a game of dominoes where one domino has a slight push and it will activate a chain reaction and cause a shift in other peoples’ related behaviours.

So, how to make changes that will ultimately make a difference – by ‘ultimately’ I’m saying that this won’t happen overnight. Most people are resistant to change and will say things like “What’s wrong with you? You’ve always been okay with this before”.

The first thing is to put down boundaries – if someone’s taking advantage of you and have done so for a long time, they’ll almost certainly be surprised and annoyed if you choose not to do something that you’ve previously gone along with. You could start with putting a time limit on phone calls, not responding to text messages immediately and not replying to e.mails that add a lot of emotional pressure.

Stay calm if the other person starts to get agitated – they will want to tell their story so, if there’s time, let them do that (and trust me, their story will be more important than yours! I speak from personal experience….) and then respond with brief responses if they become hostile. Try not to be emotionally threatening – it won’t help; instead, try to show them some empathy where you can.

However, it’s important not to agree or volunteer for anything in order to fix it. That’s not your job. If you have to distance yourself slightly, do so.

After that, if your sister-in-law asks you to look after her children for the umpteenth time, and for whatever reason, you’re finding it too much, think of a way that you can gently tell her that you can’t do it. (Maybe along the lines of “I’d like to be able to help, but I’m already doing something that day”). If she’s frosty or angry with you, so be it. You have to think about your own health and wellbeing as well as hers.

If the person you’re in conflict with is someone at work and you discover that they’ve given others misinformation or they’re angry when they speak to you, try to provide a firm but balanced, informative response using whatever method of communication that they used, whether this was verbal or by e.mail. Provide accurate up-to-date information and try to remain at arms’ length. Again, as with family members or friends, limit the time spent in discussions.

Although mindfulness and staying in the ‘here and now’ is hugely helpful, at times of conflict it’s also useful to focus on the future and how much better that might look if you can make small changes.

There will be some loss involved because there always is with change. Be prepared for that and let yourself grieve for the relationship(s) that you’d hoped to have.

None of this will be easy, but in some ways it’s an insurance for your future – a time when you don’t succumb to things you don’t want or like and where you can make boundaries and re-discover your own self-worth.

Check out my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button – you can share them with your friends too. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.                          #loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Friends, But You Really Want More?

In my last blog on 13 July, I wrote about whether you can really be friends with your ex and how, in theory, that’s possible if you both want it and already have a lot in common, especially if there’s a shared history too.

However, that’s very different from being friends in the first place but the relationship has never gone further than that, but now you’d like it to progress to something deeper, preferably including romance and sex.

First of all, if you’re in that position – you like them a lot, you’ve been friends for ages but, actually, you really fancy them and like to take things to the next level – you might feel awkward about doing anything about it. So, you need to test the water by talking to them, maybe saying that you’re feelings have changed, grown deeper, or however you want to phrase it. Remember, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.

If they pull away, it’s awkward, but it’s also important not to blame yourself or think that there’s something wrong with you. Going down that path will only lead to more pain and hurt but if you can be there for them as a friend again, the awkwardness will slowly disappear. It may not be what you want but staying friends means that you’re still an important part of their life.

It won’t be easy if you’re physically attracted too them, but nor will it be impossible. It’s hard seeing someone whilst your feelings for them are still really strong, but if you really care for them, you’ll make it work.

One thing to take into account is how they told you that they didn’t like you “in that way” – if they were hurtful in what they said, you could challenge them on that otherwise it will come between you. Emphasise that it’s not what they said so much as the way they said it. Not wanting to take things further isn’t a reason to be nasty about it.

Time passing may mean that they change their minds, but don’t wait around thinking that this might happen. You’ve tested it out, they said “no” and now you have to try to get your previous friendship back on an even keel.

To do this, turn to other friends in your life and spend more time with them; try to distract yourself from what you hoped might come about and appreciate all that you’ve been through together and separately. Don’t forget all those great conversations that you’ve had, all the fun times and what you’ve learned from them. Those things are still there and for the friendship to thrive again, they need to continue. So, carry on thinking of fun things to do together, still have their best interests at heart and don’t try to ‘fix’ them.

Sometimes, people need a gentle push in a certain direction, but you can’t do that for them and it’s not healthy to even try. Any changes that they make have to come from them and be what they want. Some friendships last forever, but if this isn’t one of them, you have to try to accept that the future looks different from how you hoped. That acceptance is the key to being happy and contented in the here and now.

You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.                          #loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Find That You Keep Repeating Mistakes?

It can be overspending so that you get into debt or other issues like always picking unhealthy relationships, whether it be with partners or friends.

Maybe our brains are actually designed to repeat mistakes although this isn’t yet fully understood, but it could be that we tend to focus on what we’ve done wrong (or perceive that we’ve done wrong) rather than looking at what we’ve done right.

For instance, a study that was published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science showed that if you focus on your past spending mistakes, it doesn’t stop you having shopping spree; quite the opposite in fact! But if someone focuses on good future outcomes where spending is concerned, they’re more likely to stop making poor financial choices.

One thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that people who grew up without a lot of boundaries don’t always know how to draw a line in their own adult lives. If you grow up not seeing your parents or care-givers establish limits, whether that’s around food, time-keeping or shouting about the slightest little thing, it’s harder to establish those boundaries yourself. You may disagree with this – after all, some people grow up thinking that above all, they’re going to be different from their parents and they set out to do that as soon as possible. If their parents were bad time-keepers, they always make a point of being punctual – and good for them.

If people are criticised a lot as children, they often grow up doubting themselves and any decisions that they make.

Sadly, any sort of abuse, whether emotional, physical or sexual, leaves children unconsciously believing that they don’t deserve good things and they make decisions as adults that prove that such assumptions are actually correct when that’s not necessarily the case.

So how can you avoid making the same mistakes again and again? Well, it’s not instant and takes some work but here are a few things that will help:

  • Learn goal setting that works. One way of doing this is making your goals achievable – in other words, one step at a time. If things don’t go according to plan, have a back-up that will still help you achieve your goal, maybe by a different route.
  • Focus on the future – as I said above, focussing on what we did wrong makes us more likely to do the same thing again so visualise how you want things to look in the future.
  • Stop beating yourself up if things go wrong – self-compassion is a good route to self-esteem and ultimately helps with decision-making.

As with anything, there will be blips along the way, but if you keep trying to look at your decisions and break any unhealthy patterns, eventually you’ll start having confidence in what you’ve achieved and what’s still left to achieve.

You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.                          #loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Have You Experienced ‘Breadcrumbing’?

I have to be honest and say that until recently I hadn’t heard of the term ‘breadcrumbing’ but then I read about it in a psychotherapy magazine and realised that it’s probably more prevalent than I realised. There’s a lot of it around……..

Maybe you already knew about it but for those of you who, like me, it’s a new term, it’s defined as someone who leads you on by dropping little morsels of interest like an occasional message, social media interaction or a phone call, but then they don’t follow through on any of it. It doesn’t only happen in romantic situations though – it can be from your family, at work or when you’re out socially.

Basically though, it’s about expectations, disappointment and empty promises and can happen in lots of different situations; if it’s in a romantic sense, it’s along the lines of stringing someone along but not actually committing, in friendships where you’ve connected on social media but then find  you’ve been ghosted, in families where there’s love, but it’s often conditional and is taken away sometimes and at work where opportunities are dangled but stay just out of reach.

Sounds familiar? If you’ve often experienced the roller coaster of hoping for something but that’s followed by doubting yourself (“is it because of me?” or “did I do something wrong?”), then you may well have been the victim of breadcrumbing.

You may have found that the breadcrumber shows you attention and interest when they want something from you, but then they go back to their old self-absorbed ways after getting what they want. If you’ve often waited for someone to call or text, to follow through on what they’ve hinted, but it never happens, then you’ve almost certainly been the victim of breadcrumbing.

So, how can you best deal with this, which is essentially about narcissism and manipulation? Here are a few things to look at:

  • Be honest with yourself – by this I mean that although we may have convinced ourselves that someone likes us really, that they want us to thrive and be happy, ask yourself whether you really think they’re being honest (this applies in your personal life or at work). If the answer is ‘no’, it may be time to walk away. If it’s in the context of family, that’s not easy, but at the very least you can distance yourself, even if you can’t cut ties completely.
  • This is a good time to start ignoring the game they’re playing – because it is a game really. If the person is really interested in you, whether at work or home, they’ll start making an effort with you as opposed to stringing you along.
  • If you think it would be a better approach, you might try telling them how you feel – make a time to meet with them, explain how you feel, whether it’s about your feelings for them or for the job that you’re doing, and explain the effect that their behaviour is having on you.
  • Remember that the breacrumber holds the attention and power and that it’s an unequal dynamic which isn’t helping you at all.
  • Make sure that you don’t lose respect for yourself – remember that what they’re doing is not fair or acceptable, and by having confidence in yourself, you’re no longer participating in their game.
  • Start focusing on other aspects of your life, and make sure that you direct your focus elsewhere whether that’s with new friends, new interests or studying so that you can move on to another, better job.

I hope that you’ve found this interesting – let me know if you have any thoughts on it.

You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Is One Of You Having An Emotional Affair?

It often begins innocently enough as a friendship but when you or your partner start investing a lot of emotional time and energy into a bond outside of your relationship, it can ultimately threaten the intimacy you have with your partner.

Okay, so there hasn’t been actual sexual intimacy, but emotional affairs can still do a lot of damage and are a form of cheating (you may disagree – comments welcome!). If there’s deception and you’re hiding it from your partner, something’s definitely not right. If you’re seeking/finding emotional support outside your relationship, the next step is feeling closer to that person than to your partner (and vice-versa).

One difference between a close platonic friendship and an actual emotional affair is that the intimacy and emotional investment is downplayed or kept secret from your partner.

Some warning signs that you’re having an emotional affair are:

  • Thinking that your friend understands you better than your partner.
  • Giving the friend personal gifts
  • Keeping the friendship secret or downplaying your interest in the other person.
  • Texting them a lot when you’re not with them.
  • Sharing thoughts and problems with your friend rather than your partner.
  • Preoccupation or daydreaming about your friend.
  • Withdrawing from your partner.

If you recognise this in your own life and want to stop things before any real damage is done to you and your partner, try to assess why you’re not feeling as close to your partner, start being more supportive of one another and make an effort to talk about what’s going on in your lives; make sure that you have some regular quality time together, even if you have small children and start finding ways of dealing with conflict in ways that are healthy.

By making your partner the focus of your life, rather than a ‘special friendship’, there’s a chance to put a spark back into your relationship before it’s too late.

You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy