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Having a Difficult Personality to Manage . . .

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I don't.

Really -- not me. My moderate tendency to introversion aside (and with Sophia Dembling's help, I'm recognizing this isn't much of a problem), I've got a generally sunny and optimistic personality. For which I take no particular credit. I think it's a function of heredity, for the most part. And a certain amount of will power. A deliberate focusing on the good stuff, most of the time . . . . (sorry about the exasperating Pollyannishness that this can also exude).

But quite often here at Spark I read Spark friends' blogs describing various conflicts arising out of interactions with their challenging family members or work colleagues or friends! (Today, MJREIMER's blog sparked this thought).


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A wise and elderly person whom I had the privilege of getting to know very well once told me that it helps to characterize such individuals as just "having a difficult personality to manage". You know the kind of person I mean: perpetually griping; perpetually entitled, perpetually self-focused; perpetually critical; perpetually just plain miserable to deal with. They might not even realize it. It's like asking a fish about water: their emotional condition is the only one they know.

We'd prefer to steer clear of such types. Yet we must quite often deal with them: the toxic mother-in-law, the imperious boss, the sulky teen, and maybe even from time to time the dear spouse?? (Not mine, thank goodness).

But I do have such people in my life whom I can't avoid. It's pretty much a certainty you do too. And yeah, it does help simply to recognize that those individuals very often suffer from that "difficult personality". Which they don't know how to manage.

Because it's their burden. Their loss. Generally their poisonous outlook on life that diminishes every aspect of their journey here. Even when "being difficult" works for them, or they think it does. ("Sure, we'll come to your place for Thanksgiving AND Christmas." "Yup, absolutely I can work overtime tonight. And tomorrow." "OK, you don't have to clean your room before you go to the mall. When you come back. If you're not too tired."

Me, I have a difficult metabolism to manage!! Every calorie I take in is present and accounted for!! Whether I track 'em or not, my body is tracking 'em. Always.

But . . . I'm pretty grateful that my problem is the difficult metabolism and not the difficult personality.

And I'm not going to let those persons with unmanaged difficult personalities stress me out and tip me into mismanaging my own difficult metabolism.

No way. Not happening.


PS, my response to _LINDA's great response, below:

Loved your comment on my "difficult personalities" blog. My absolutely fave strategy to deal with such persons is to "nice 'em out", yeah!! Modelling the appropriate behaviour; not rising to the bait; and simultaneously exasperating the pants off 'em!! Oh revenge is sweet.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROZZIEOZZIE 10/20/2013 2:17PM

    Know exactly what you mean! One of my best friends has such a negative attitude about everything, after spending time with her it just makes me want to scream (or eat everything in sight)! So I sometimes avoid her, for my own mental health. Nicing her out doesn't seem to help - she just doesn't get it. Some day I will just have to confront her, but there is a chance I will lose her as a friend. Great blog!
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46SHADOW 10/20/2013 12:40PM

    I love the comparison to a diificult metabolism to manage.

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KANOE10 10/20/2013 10:40AM

    That was a great blog. We all have difficult personalities on our lives. You are right, it is their problem and not yours. The key is not let them stress you out and to stay positive. I also have the difficult metabolism which needs to be managed daily.

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NANCY- 10/20/2013 8:56AM

    Thank you so much for this. I love your attitude and approach.
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ANGELCITYGAL 10/20/2013 2:07AM

    I really appreciate your words about not letting other people's problems managing their personalities affect your management of your metabolism. Brilliant. I'm going to remember that. emoticon

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TEENY_BIKINI 10/20/2013 1:40AM

    LOL. I love this. I love the idea of "difficulty managing one's personality." It places the responsibility squarely where it belongs - with "that" person. This also describes a lot of people I know - at least at work. Excellent, excellent post!

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PHEBESS 10/20/2013 1:23AM

    I was supervisor at school to one or two (or three) of the constant complainers. I tried everything - being nice, positive, helpful, listening, trying to allay their endless concerns - after a while, all I could think was, they must be miserable! If I felt like that about everything, I'd want to kill myself!!!! And that thought kept me laughing internally, and not getting as upset over life as they were all the time.

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SEAJESS 10/20/2013 1:18AM

    emoticon blog. I suspect I have been this kind of person. A little empathy sometimes helps. Like children, we tend to repeat ourselves until we get relief.

Bottom line (and thank you for giving it to us!) is that we can't let unmanaged difficult personality (UDP?) stress US out. If we can't be compassionate we can at least be healthy!

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PHOENIX1949 10/19/2013 9:34PM

    "Kill them with kindness" is my motto and if that doesn't work after many attempts, avoidance, avoidance, avoidance.

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FIFIFRIZZLE 10/19/2013 3:15PM

    emoticon
I have found a great strategy for difficult situations is, take my approach based on the moral high ground. It is unassailable and from this position it is hard to lose. My life has become so much easier since I started basing my actions on thinking 'what is the BEST thing to do?'
By the moral high ground I don't mean feeling superior, I mean truly understanding and looking at a situation from the perspective of all involved. From the position, what is the best approach/response that will provide the most gain for all involved?
It is hard to oppose someone who mildly and courteously provides what you want, accomodates you, or at least takes your concerns seriously when negotiating the best way to proceed.
In my experience, people want to join you on the moral high ground and opposition melts or falls away. Unless the people you are dealing with are mean or ornery, in which case, it is kinda pointless to take them seriously.
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Saint Fifi
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MJREIMERS 10/19/2013 1:05PM

    emoticon and of course emoticon ! I've also learned that if being "overly nice and setting a good example" doesn't work then I just need to let it go. It's their issue, but I don't have to make it my issue. Even if I work with them, I realize some people are "just that way" and I'll just do my job.

Thanks for the emoticon blog!

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BOOKAPHILE 10/19/2013 12:53PM

    I'd never thought about those people as the ones suffering from their personality. (Oh dear! It's NOT all about ME!) I like this perspective. I also like your determination not to let a difficulty on their part become a difficulty on yours. Thanks for the thought-provoker!

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DALID414 10/19/2013 12:41PM

    I am recovering from a difficult personality emoticon I decided to shake it in my late 20s. I used to be envious of the boyfriends' laid back attitude about things; to the point of getting upset! How does he just not care?! Turns out he does care, but only for the things he can control! That's brilliant!
My motto became: I'll deal with it when it happens (and not before!). It was hard at first, but I would say the motto out loud to calm myself down and let it go... until it happened.

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MEADSBAY 10/19/2013 12:13PM

    Oh, my, I'm afraid I do know a few of those.
Sadly, one is one of my best friends and she has gotten worse and worse as we are getting older. Almost everything she says is negative but she will do nothing but complain.
I spend less and less time with her because of it, and yes, we (her group of bff's) have gently told her numerous times that she needs to seek out some positives (of which she has many in her life) to focus on. Facebook has been good for her as she won't complain so much there and it forces her to post happy messages, news, photos, etc.
Let me go hit the gym and start burning up some of my calories.
My kind doctor, who sympathizes with my wt struggles, tells me my body is just highly efficient as using calories and just stores the rest (as you-know-what).
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COCK-ROBIN 10/19/2013 12:12PM

    We're all in this together!

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SLENDERELLA61 10/19/2013 12:08PM

    Another absolutely brilliant blog, Ellen! The status statement really piqued my curiosity. Hard to understand how you could be grateful for a difficult metabolism. I always feel a bit guilty that even though I'm 4 inches shorter than you, I can eat a few bites more than you can. But I still have to work very hard to manage my hunger and maintain my weight. I know you do and I admire you greatly!

There are difficult people in my life, but I'm not giving them the power to derail my good efforts!!!

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_LINDA 10/19/2013 11:15AM

    I have one of those difficult personality to manage at the club. She drove the previous manager crazy. But we both learned to take her constant criticisms like water off a duck's back. For me, being new, I had to be especially vigilant, my competitive nature coming to the forefront, trying to preempt anything she might pick to be critical about. After a steep but fast learning curve, she started having less to complain about until now she rarely complains. Sometimes smothering them with perfection and kindness and attention is all they need.
Here is hoping your own troublemaker will someday see the light that they have nothing to gain by being the way they are..
No stress, no worries. It is what it is.. I have my own life to worry about as do you!
Spark on!

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/19/2013 11:10AM

    There you go again! Writing something absolutely brilliant and giving me another way to look at the puzzle called life. I too have a difficult metabolism to manage, and I'm taking your last bit to heart (today):

"I'm not going to let those persons with unmanaged difficult personalities stress me out and tip me into mismanaging my own difficult metabolism. "

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