Dear Kermit: Grumpy in Greenfield

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Hi, K!

I am in dire need of your advice!

There is a person who I cannot stand. What I mean is that every time I hear them breathe I wish they would stop, and every time they speak I can’t help but notice that what they’ve said was extremely stupid. All this in mind I can’t ignore this person, because my schedule makes it impossible to avoid regular interaction with them. What do I do! They have stolen my chocolate bar, and lied about not doing it! I know this seems like I am VERY much over-reacting, and I admit I am; However the hate that this small act has generated, has led me to unintentionally attack others, and is a testament to how much I loathe this person. Yes, I am over-reacting about a small thing, but I am sick of this person lying, and getting away with it.

In the past the person had told me extremely terrible things, which I know now to be lies, and currently she claims to never have told me the lies in the first place. Please please please, a penny for your advice (OR MORE). I know I must be the better person, but I can’t help but cringe with hatred whenever they walk in the room. I’m sure this feeling has miraculously become innate and there’s no way of changing it. I guess I’m asking in general, how can I teach myself to not hold grudges against her, (for both our sakes) so that I won’t have to live in anger all the time? Again please help.Thanks for time and consideration!

Grumpy in Greenfield.

Dear Grumpy in Greenfield,

Yikes! It sounds like you’re going through a lot, and it’s commendable that you’ve taken this first and important step in resolving the situation not just for the sake of your relationship but—and perhaps more importantly—for your own emotional well-being. There are a few things about your letter that stand out and should be addressed:

  1. Don’t dismiss your feelings. You can’t help the way you feel about someone or about what they do or say.
  2. However, it’s important to also recognize that hate is a very strong word. It carries a physical, mental, and emotional weight.
  3. And no matter how deep your negative feelings run or how bad a situation gets, things can always change for the better, so don’t lose hope.

At the crux of what you’re saying is a sincere need, desire, and willingness to improve your situation with this person who clearly has some control over you. How do I know this person has control? Because of the way it’s impacting you. This person gets under your skin, makes you lash out at other people, and puts you in a rage. Do you see how the weight of your hatred has manifested itself? It’s not healthy. When that happens, that person has won. Don’t let him or her win. As I said earlier, you can’t help the way you feel about someone and you certainly can’t help what they say or do, but you can help the way you respond to situations, you can help the way you treat people, regardless of how they treat you…and that’s what’s most important…that’s what people will remember about you…that’s (a part of) the legacy you’ll leave. So ask yourself, what do I want my legacy to be? What do I want people to think of when they think of me?

It’s no coincidence that this letter comes during a time when we celebrate a man whose legacy is one of kindness, tolerance, justice, and peace. A man who endured horrible offenses, but chose to turn his cheek. A man who remained undaunted by the fight and chose love over hate. A man who preached compassion and empathy. As we celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s life and legacy, and as you reflect on your own negative experiences with this person and anyone else you have or will come across, consider:

Walking in his or her shoes. Have you ever considered what he or she is going through or why he or she is mistreating you?

Completing a self-check. What role are you playing in this mistreatment and/or why is this having such an affect on you?

Practicing deep breathing and meditation. Whether you’re in the heat of the moment or after, it’s important to take some time to calm down so you don’t say something you’ll regret.

Being proactive and honest. Be honest with yourself and the other person involved. The person could be completely unaware of how his or her behavior is affecting you. Let ‘em know!

Remaining cool, calm, and collected. This is a hard one and takes years and years of practice—be chill. Don’t let people get under your skin. If they say something crazy or do something foolish and hurtful, don’t react, don’t stoop down to their level. Stay true to who you are and don’t taint your legacy.

This situation you’re currently in is one of many you’ll experience in the future. If you take nothing away from this advice, here’s one more thing I encourage you to consider: if things were reversed, how would you want to be treated? I’ll let that marinate.

Keep me posted!



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