The first time I realized I didn’t like everyone I came in contact with, I felt like a bad person. I mean, I really enjoy people and getting to know them and their stories, so when I noticed that someone was driving me crazy, I didn’t like how it felt. For the most part, I find other humans to be fascinating, each possessing at least one quality I like.
As it turns out, if you’re anything like me, you’re not going to connect with every single person you encounter. And that’s okay. But what happens when the person who drives you crazy is also someone you have to deal with during the holidays, or at the Monday meeting, or at your partner’s trivia night? We have some strategies that might help resolve this issue for you.
De-Stress with Movement
Exercise helps relieve stress, and moving regularly releases feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine into your system. If the person who drives you crazy corners you and wants to talk your ear off, try taking a walk with them.
Let’s say you’re at work and Chatty Pants needs to talk to you about something. Take a deep breath, smile (seriously), and ask to go for a walk around the office while you talk. Once the conversation is complete, take an additional five minutes to do something physical to get rid of any excess stress. You can deep breathe, run up the stairs, or even do some push-ups against your chair or desk. A quick surge of activity will help lower your anxiety and bring you back into a calm space.
It’s also important to give your body consistent workouts on a weekly basis. Making movement a habit will clear your brain, decrease your stress response, and increase endorphin release.
Make taking care of yourself as much of a priority as the things you know you must do: go to work, pay the bills, brush your teeth, vacuum, etc. Start your morning with a few minutes of focused gratitude and take time to read something inspirational before the busyness of everyday life takes over.
Schedule time for yourself, and not in the “someday, one day, maybe I’ll do it” way. I’m talking about putting relaxation time on your calendar and sticking to it. Make time for things you really enjoy— something that will restore you and fill up your inner well. It could be a dance class, going to the museum alone, or getting a pedi.
Do this for yourself at least once per week and you’ll find that dealing with someone who drives you crazy will get easier the rest of the time. And while we’re on the subject of taking care of yourself, make sure to get plenty of good sleep every night. Sleep deprivation will make dealing with any stressful situation that much more difficult.
Tea time is fantastic for lowering your blood pressure and calming down, as long as you choose the right variety. Try a cup of hot green or black tea, or enjoy some chamomile to help compose yourself after an unpleasant interaction.
I have a plaque in my office that’s positioned where I can see it from most angles. It reads: “I’m going to make everything around me beautiful— that will be my life” (Elsie de Wolfe). When I look at it, it helps ground me, especially on days when I’ve had to work with someone who, shall we say, increases my stress response.
Including the use of your senses to create a sanctuary for yourself is vital. Look for creative ways to bring back peace and balance. However beauty occurs for you, be sure to include it in your life experience: paint, wear pretty clothes, fill your space with colors that quiet your soul, get a massage, take a walk.
Talk to Yourself and Others
Start by taking a deep breath; in fact, do this every day, even when you don’t feel like you’re being driven crazy. With every breath, hum, then release the breath through your nose. You’ll activate nitric oxide production and help improve your blood pressure.
And then you can start talking to yourself. Spend some time with your thoughts, asking yourself why you have the response you do to the person who drives you crazy. Please don’t play the blame game here; instead, use this as an opportunity to have an open inquiry with yourself. Ask yourself what’s being triggered for you by this person, what old beliefs or patterns are coming up, and whether or not your response is serving you or representing the life you want to live.
If you discover that the person who makes you crazy is also taking advantage of your time, energy, or generosity, then it’s time to set a boundary and say no. Who you are and the value you have in the world isn’t dependent on sacrificing your time, health, or relationships to do for others when it depletes you. You must care for yourself before being able to care for others. If the other you’re caring for is using you for their own benefit, it’s time to cut the cord. Be discerning.
Talk to others, but don’t gossip. Connect in a way that has significance and value for you. Be a part of something bigger than yourself and the person who makes you crazy. I’ve heard it said that if you’re spending your time and energy dealing with petty problems, then you need to have bigger problems.
Seriously. Life’s little dramas seem much smaller when you put them alongside larger issues. You could help with a problem that puts you at the national or community level, or you could assist your neighbor, volunteer locally, or be an advocate for kindness in traffic.
Engage in a cause that has meaning to you and see if the person who drives you crazy doesn’t fade into the background a bit. Perspective shifts really can change your entire experience. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” (Wayne Dyer).
Look ahead to your week, especially if you know you’re going to encounter the problem person, and be prepared. Think about specific ways you can deal with that person. Have your calming techniques mapped out and your me time on the calendar.
Additionally, if you have someone you trust to hold you accountable, ask them to remind you of your de-stressing tactics. Don’t engage in gossip with them, but ask them to support you in being on track while dealing with the person who drives you crazy.
Remember that you can control your stress rather than letting it control you. We all have so many things going on, and it’s normal that sometimes a few of those things (or people) will irritate us. It’s the response to that stress and the ability to handle it that will really determine whether or not we have a bad experience. Learn to let go of worry that you’re bad or wrong if someone irritates you and instead focus on the positives in your life.