Lord, Grant me the serenity to accept stupid people the way they are, the courage to maintain my self-control and the wisdom to know that if I act on it, I will go to jail.
What do you think of when someone talks about a bully?
I think of a bully as the kid on the playground taking lunch money and giving wedgies. My daughter may answer that a bully is someone calling her a name via social media. My son would answer that it’s the boy in school teasing him about being so small. I’ve learned that a bully are all the above and also called an impossible person.
Most people know an office assassin, the person who lives to make every situation toxic and impossible. Pointing out that these people are difficult and demanding won’t get you anywhere, they don’t even SEE an issue. In a word these are impossible people.
Dealing with my impossible person, I had to figure out whether it was real or imagined. My Impossible Person would do things that by itself were annoying but in hindsight, quite obnoxious. I was determined to suffer in silence and keep the peace. My thinking was that *I* was the one being over dramatic and that I needed to step back and reexamine my behavior. As one of a few minorities in the company, I didn’t want to rock the boat. Whenever a scapegoat is needed, I know that folks of color are sometimes the easiest targets. So I let my Impossible Person keep on being Impossible and suffered in silence. I even went as far as apologizing for being cold in the winter, cleaning old items from the office, and being polite to visitors. I was content to fly under the radar, and knew her gossip was more a testament to her character than mine…but a person can only take so much.
Knowing that I can be quite the firecracker, I wanted to be sure that I had done everything possible to make this situation palatable. I went to see a therapist to sort out my thoughts and feelings. See, I used to lean on my faith, but readers know that my relationship with God is usually in the “It’s complicated” phase.
My therapist helped me see that it was NOT me, but my Impossible Person. Here are some things he helped me work through. I hope they will help you.
1. Mind…my OWN business. It is not my place to comment on things I cannot control.
2. Ignore Them. By not giving my impossible person attention, I was able to limit any negative interactions. Unfortunately, this fueled her gossip that I was unapproachable, difficult, ad had an attitude. Well of course I had an attitude. This (redacted) seemed to make it her life’s mission to cause me grief.
3. Protect my self-esteem and my reputation. The type of work I do is not limited to 9 AM to 5 PM. I provide seminars in the evening and on weekends. Working in the community, our worlds collide. Knowing that there were chances that we would see each other on “my time” I begin to isolate myself. Unfortunately, this provided ample opportunities for my Impossible Person to stoke the rumors (redacted) began. I show up to these functions now, grit my teeth, and do my best to work the room while avoiding her.
4. Don’t aggravate the situation. It’s easy to stoop to the other person’s level. In an attempt to wrestle some control back, I played DMX party up in here daily. I knew it intimidated my Impossible Person but for the moment, I felt a bit superior. Those moments don’t last long, though. This is just time for the Impossible Person to find ways to strike back a little harder.
5. Guard against anger. Buddha says it best:
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
Impossible people are like defendants on Judge Judy. They know everything about the law that benefits THEM, especially when they do wrong! Impossible people wait for you to pop off, then use it against you later.
6. Have a voice. Document, document, document. My anger and frustration got the best of me, but putting pen to paper, I was able to keep a record of everything. This helped to preserve me sanity – yo, I wasn’t cray cray!
7. Become a manager of yourself. Identify WHAT is important for you. My work begin to suffer. I dreaded coming into work, I started having anxiety attacks, my face looked like a pizza, and my family was catching the brunt of my dissatisfaction. I had to figure out WHAT WAS important. My what: I enjoy serving the people and getting paid to do it. I dislike the way panic attacks make my body feel; I am too vain to have my face look like braille; and my family mean more to me than words can express. I had to figure out WHAT I wanted: to grow my career; make a difference in my community; continue with the healthy habits that easily fall by the wayside when my mind is distracted; provide for my family; know that at the end of the day, I knew I completed a job well done. I focused on what I was changing into. I didn’t like what I was seeing and knew I had to make a change.
8. Don’t keep taking the abuse. I waited far too long to say anything and but then I was all but broken. If it wasn’t for my proclivity for Sunday Snapped! marathons, I may have considered a young man fond of Tims, tats, and wife beaters to handle my problem. But I’m too cute for jail, and I watch enough Beyond Scared Straight to know that jail is NOT for me. Instead, write down some thoughts. Know what you want for your outcome. Then lay your cards (for Spades players, hold your Big Joker) on the table and prepare for a change.
9. Unfortunately, you may need to prepare to part ways. I’ve had enough ups and downs, and miracles in my faith to know that everything happens for a reason.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to take action. Your hair and skin will thank you.