What to do about "that person" in your life
I recently had a chance to observe a situation where Person A is a person who’s trying to lead a good life, trying to more or less find what I’d call enlightenment in a way (Christianity, service) that’s different than mine own, and she’s in a position where she’s forced to deal with Person B on a near-daily basis. I had a chance to meet Person B recently, and if you can imagine an ultra-competitive Reba McEntire type of person, that’s basically who I saw. (I’m not commenting on Reba, I’m just trying to say what I saw ... a very “country” woman who said and did several things to show off, or show off her competitiveness.)
The situation here is that Person B is the sister-in-law of Person A, and because of marriage and proximity, A is forced to deal with B constantly. (And perhaps vice-versa. I’m writing this from a position of empathy for Person A, because I hope I’m much more like A than B.)
So the question becomes, if you’re Person A, how do you deal with Person B, given that you do have to deal with her several times a week?
I haven’t been in this situation too often, so I don’t really have a great answer. I do know that I had to deal with one person who was driving me crazy with talking about other people, and I had to say flat out, “I don’t want to participate in these conversations. If you’re talking about them like this when they’re not here, I can only imagine what you say about me when I’m not here. Please stop, or I’m leaving.” I don’t like calling people out like that very often, but if I have to interact with someone constantly, I won’t tolerate certain things like that. (As I’ve learned, being a kind person doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover.)
(My step-mother was also like this, and I dealt with her by ignoring her, trying to make her life miserable, and trying to wreck her car. In retrospect I should have just asked, “Why do you talk badly about other people all the time?”)
(As I write this, the irony that I’m writing about other people is not lost on me. Hopefully I’m doing this in the spirit of trying to understand the Way myself.)
So I’m not sure what my friend, Person A, can do about Person B. In general my advice is to live your life the way you want, the way you believe, and ignore the other person, but as I mentioned, in one situation where I was forced to deal with one person on a long-term basis, I told her what my ground rules are, at least in regards to talking about other people.
I guess my thoughts are that if you’re taking care of your own house, your own affairs, you’re living your life honestly, and by doing that, hopefully you’re setting an example, not only for Person B, but for everyone you meet. For instance, in this specific case, maybe you can be a role model for Person B’s husband and children. Especially for the children, they can see that the way their mother conducts herself isn’t the only way to live. I know that I wish I had more and better role models when I was young.
As I write this I just recalled a phrase from Zig Ziglar: “Every obnoxious act is a cry for help.” It took me a long time to realize the depth of that pithy phrase, but suffice it to say, I’ve found it to be very true.
As luck/timing/synchronicity would have it, I just opened a book and found these words:
The master, by residing in the Tao (the Way),
sets an example for all beings.
Because he doesn’t display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn’t know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
That’s pretty good.
(Note: I’ll clarify my thoughts out here at some point, but for today I just wanted to get this out of my mind and out here.)