Some days I think Blowing for Soup got it exactly right: Nothing changes but the faces, the names, and the trends/ High school never ends.
For instance, I never thought that well into my 30s I would still be dealing with mean girls. However, they exist. Much like middle and high school, the worst kinds are always the one who are as sweet as sugar to your face but talk about you behind your back. No community is immune from these: as a member of the mind/body community, I say without a doubt that they exist there.
A friend of mine who is an attorney shared that the legal profession has them, too. Much like death and taxes, mean people are a part of life.
Just because they exist and want to make our lives miserable doesn’t mean that we have to let them. While the ideal solution would be to cut these people out of our lives entirely sometimes it isn’t practical or possible. Rather than spend our times wallowing in self-pity or entertaining fantasies of homicide, there are a few ways to make our interactions with these mean girls and boys a little more tolerable.
While we may never be best friends with them, it is possible in most cases to let go of some of the anger and frustration we feel whenever we encounter them.
The tips below are based on my experiences with such individuals. Perhaps they will work for you or someone else you know:
1. Try to avoid any interaction that isn’t absolutely necessary.
While it’s impossible to avoid every place they may pop up, avoiding social events that they host or are held for them is a good start. It never fails but more often than not, our nemesis(es) have mutual friends in common with us. While sometimes we feel we have to be at a certain event because “everyone we know will be there” or it is “expected” of us, the truth is no one I know ever died physically or socially for skipping a birthday party, dinner party, etc.
It is also important to note that just because they may have friends in common with us does not mean that you have to invite them to any event you throw. If you really don’t want them there, be sure to stress that any event your hosting is invitation only.
If that seems too extreme, then at least don’t friend them on Facebook or if you are already “friends” then place them on “ignore”. (You can always defriend them altogether but more often than not, that may lead to more drama.)
2. Keep any social interactions courteous but brief.
It can be tempting to want to go off on such a person, but I advise against doing it in public for obvious reasons. (Even if our reasons are justified, more often than not, we just end up embarrassing ourselves or saying things we regret.)
A simple nod or “Hi” is enough.
One thing to avoid is sharing any personal information about yourself with your mean girl or boy no matter how innocent it seems. (In my case, I shared with my mean girl that a mutual acquaintance of ours was a yoga student. The next thing I know, she told several people we were having an affair.)
3. Consider confronting them.
Much like schoolyard bullies, grown-up mean girls and boys do not do well with confrontation.
I actually asked one of my mean girls tersely but politely what her issue was with me. While she denied she had any problems with me, I noticed after our interaction that our mutual acquaintances no longer reported catty comments about me. Indeed, it seemed like she stopped talking about me altogether.
If you take this route, then be as calm as possible. Don’t shout, swear or resort to insults. Simply ask, “What is your problem with me?” and leave it as that.
4. Try to find some humor in the situation.
If all else fails, try to find some humor no matter how hard it may be. Be able to see the humor can help us realize how on the grand scale of things who insignificant these feuds really are. As my late grandmother used to say, “Not everyone in life is going to like you.”
Plus, if your mean girl or boy is going to the trouble to spread rumors about you make up outright lies and exaggerations about you then ultimately that says more about them then it does about you.
Many of them love the mere thought that others may be thinking about them. Choosing not to think about them may be the best “revenge” ever.
Few of us go through life without encountering at least one mean girl or boy. If we can’t avoid them altogether, then at least there are ways to make our interactions with them more tolerable. If nothing works, then we owe it to ourselves to at least try to keep our dignity.
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