There are no guarantees in life. There are no guarantees in business. But, there is hope – this is why we commit to others. We want to build a life together, a better world together, find successes together – beginnings are exciting and promising.
There is also trust. We have nothing without trust. And, there is always the possibility that someone might turn out to be someone other than you thought they would be, or had hoped for and trusted them to be. Relationships and experiences might be damaging, but it’s important to learn from the experience, and essential to know that they have nothing to do with your other relationships – not your existing ones, or new ones that might arrive as a positive force on the heels of something scarring.
Dealing with those who are lacking ethically and morally, those that feel justified in being fraudulent, or who lie, cheat and steal, yet continue on with their lives, post positively on social media, or start new businesses and relationships as if nothing happened, are destructive in many ways. They can violate our souls and erode our confidence, but who knows what is really going on in their mind or lives, or why they are lying to others, and maybe even to themselves. It is healthy and necessary to acknowledge all struggles and emotions you might be experiencing, but, then, repeatedly, as needed, decide that you will not let them derail your life. You are worth more.
It’s taken me years of practice, and unfortunately, too much experience to feel like I have enough expertise to write this post. The exercise of writing this all down is as much about me sharing what I remind myself, as it is advice to you.
So, how can we all successfully navigate these bad interactions or nasty relationships?
Trust. Even if it means working really hard to be able to trust again, do it. It’s non-negotiable.
Be vulnerable. Being emotionally vulnerable is not dangerous. If you are putting up a persona of perfection thinking that you are protecting yourself, you are just hiding who you are and robbing yourself. Being vulnerable is challenging because of course, you are opening yourself up to other people and situations that might not go well. Remember, someone’s bad behaviour is not your fault or your business – you’re courageous for putting yourself back out there. That’s true strength, my friend!
Don’t argue with the asshole. So, has the person ruined your life? NO! If you are living and breathing, everything is “figureoutable”! Assholes drag you down to their level and will always beat you at being an asshole. Online, this is called “not feeding the trolls”. In business and in life, this is called “not wasting your time”. It’s also helpful to consider this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
Reach out to the good humans in your world. Tell them what they mean to you, and accept support from them. Connection is everything, and not just when you might be struggling – all of the time. Someone that I am fortunate enough to call a friend reminded me that we need to appreciate the powerful and positive forces in our lives when struggle is present, and even when it is not. We really do.
Lean on a good few. In addition to friends, goodness and kindness, seek comfort and advice from trusted colleagues and professionals – whether that means someone you trust with understanding or insight, legal advice, an excellent therapist or beyond. Decide what you need, and lean on these people, so that you can resolve what might be possible.
Set boundaries. Make sure they are healthy ones that focus on your self-care. As Louise Hay shares, “The only people who get upset with you setting boundaries are the ones benefiting from you having none.”
Forgive. Keep in mind that forgiving is not for others, it is for you. It isn’t about forgetting, it is about remembering without anger and resentment. It will free you up in every way. You will persist despite what has happened to you. And, it’s super challenging and takes a lot of practice, so be patient.
Feel compassion. Replace your anger and resentment with empathy and compassion for the offending person. They have to live every moment in their body, mind and soul, and carry what they’ve done through their life.
Separate the past from the future. As long as you’re not stuck in a behavioural pattern of making the same mistakes, know that what’s behind you has nothing to do with what’s ahead, except for the fact that you are now stronger and wiser moving forward.
Do a gut check. Did you potentially ignore a hunch about the person’s character and ethics? Often we ignore warning signs about issues because of the investment of time or money we’ve made, genuine care for them, or sheer hope that it won’t affect the positive outcomes. In the end, when I’ve ignored my gut, I’ve been burned.
Value the small stuff. There is so much good – even the little things like a great latte, a workout or a good hug count – the list of little things is endless. Gratitude for them, not just in words, but in practice, is everything.
Scream and cry. It’s ok to express yourself! But the best revenge is doing good, for yourself and others too, so do that instead – maintain your values and ethics and take the best care of yourself. Let Karma take care of the rest. Also, try meditation, massage, or your version of a “time-out”. This 2 minute mediation can really work wonders – and should make you smile.
Everything you do matters. Remember that. With every dollar you spend you are affecting things – how you nourish yourself, the attitude you get up with in the morning, what you create and share during the day – it all makes a difference somehow, choose to make it positive. Consider smiling at someone – that can even change your day and the day of the person on the receiving end. You never really know!
Move forward. Place your focus on moving forward. Move past a bad interaction. Move away from a toxic relationship. Don’t stay only to be dragged backwards. Don’t get distracted by the negative. Live in the positive and acknowledge what you’ve learned. Is being right more important to you than being happy? It shouldn’t be. Move on and let it go. Extra incentive in business: you will make more, and find more success investing in your business, than investing in the person who clearly doesn’t care about you or what’s right or just. Do good work with someone deserving, rather than sending negative emails, or retaining an expensive lawyer, which so often does not result in anything but a huge bill.
Keep putting yourself out there. Staying in or shying away from people because of a bad interaction (or 10) gets you nowhere…fast. Think of the laws of probability, the more people you meet in life and work, the more likely you will connect with truly good humans. Although, you might encounter more disconnected characters along the way, it’s so worth being open in order to find the friends and colleagues that give you faith in yourself and humankind. Invest your love and goodwill well. Good people, doing good things need to stick together.
Be kind. That’s it. Just be kind and give what you can, as you can. We all need more authenticity and kindness in our lives. It starts by sharing it yourself.
One of my favourite quotes is, “If you aren’t outraged, then you just aren’t paying attention.” Go ahead and be outraged, but don’t let it drag you down – let it fuel you to create better and do better.
Focus on the wonderful people in your life. Spend your energy on them without worrying about the guarantees. And forget the assholes.
Graphic and quote credit: Cleo Wade