Unfortunately, Halloween’s not the only time people do or say frightening things. Whether it’s your partner’s ex, your boss, your BFF or (as in my case) your mother-in-law who is acting like a demon, the key is to stay calm, cool, and… collected!
You don’t need to let anyone’s monstrous behavior give you the creeps. Here’s how to stay on top:
Remember, it’s not you
There’s no doubt that we each create much of our own realities, so it’s a rare occasion when it’s fair to relinquish blame. When you’re dealing with a true monster, however — someone whom everyone knows to be rude, cruel, or thoughtless, or whose track record reflects it — the best thing you can do is to detach. Don’t try to figure out what you did to deserve this. The odds are, you didn’t do anything. Had you behaved any differently, there would’ve been something (or someone) else to complain about or accost.
Don’t raise your voice
Knowing that this person’s behavior isn’t about you then, make it a point not to be triggered by it. If, like me, you can’t help but feel incensed (my monster-in-question trash-talked me at my wedding!), don’t let it show. Odds are, the offender wants to get your goat — though you will want to remember that not responding may prompt them to push you harder. Still, you don’t want to take the bait. Instead, plaster on that smile, and stay sweet. Never let ’em see you sweat — and never, ever scream! You’d only be speaking their language.
Take a firm stance
Now I know what you’re thinking: “how am I supposed to stay silent, and let that evil creature get away with doing or saying that?” The answer is, you shouldn’t! Maintaining composure does not mean letting the perpetrator off the hook without telling them their behavior is inappropriate. In fact, it’s imperative that you convey your displeasure with the way you’ve been treated. The trick is not to engage in an argument. There are calms ways to express yourself, using phrasing such as “I’d really appreciate it if you’d stop insulting me,” or “Please don’t do/say that again,” or “If I’ve offended you, I apologize,” or “I’m not going to argue with you, but we disagree, so please drop it.” This way, you needn’t stoop to their level.
Exit stage left (or right… just get out of there!)
Finally, once you’ve expressed your feelings in a calm, concise manner, the best thing you can do is to abandon the conflict in search of higher ground. Get away from the wicked witch as soon as possible, and then resist the urge to gossip. It may kill you to keep your mouth shut, but nothing will drive a monster crazier than someone who won’t put up a fight or surrender to their tactics. You win in these situations by maintaining human decorum (and the moral high ground) despite a monstrous deluge. Who knows? You may even put an end to their use of scare tactics… at least, around you.
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