Emily's Hippie Dippie Advice for Dealing With Total Assholes

And how I came to terms with leading a "spiritual" life.
Publish date:
June 1, 2012
difficult people, new-agey, spirituality, M

At the meditation station.

In the world of hippie dippie shit, we don't really call people assholes. Instead we refer to assholes as "difficult people," which is the more spiritual euphemism for people who drive you fucking insane by being generally horrible or micromanaging you condescendingly or treating everyone around them like inferior beings.

It's true! You can even download guided meditations for "dealing with difficult people." It's one of those new-agey cliches like "loving kindness."

I used to mock people who selected "spiritual" under religion on their dating profiles, considering it a crime on par with claiming to like "all music." But now I lead a spiritual life, ducklings, which really just means giving a shit about how you move through this world, which while it may sound very unselfish and lofty, is entirely for my own benefit.

You see, I used to guzzle pleasure-giving substances in the seemingly logical understanding that if happy pills made me happy, a LOT of happy pills would make me happy ALL the time! And I was very confused to find myself more and more miserable. Not fair, logic!

Only in sobriety have I learned that pure hedonism is not, for me, the path to joy. Instead, confusingly, being a good person, performing esteemable acts, being of service to others and living a life I don't have to lie or be ashamed about actually makes me feel happy.

So I do it (very imperfectly) for me, and the people who come into contact with me simply benefit.

Which brings me back to the aforementioned difficult people. We all have at least one in our life whom we are forced to interact with by virtue of the fact that we work with them or they are a member of our family or they are sort of famous and we don't want to lose the cred of associating with them. When we have to interact with these people a lot, we develop what are called resentments. And resentments, according to a very smart saying I did not make up, are like drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die.

Because they only hurt you! The difficult person doesn't care! They're off gleefully assholing without a concern in the world. But you, the resenter, are stewing in your resentment, until you begin to morph into a bitter, twisted spiritual HAG with wizened skeleton fingers for a soul. You are getting all ugly in there! And one mustn't neglect one's soul in any beauty regimen.

So in order to selfishly maintain my serenity, I have developed (stolen from therapy and 12-step philosophy) a series of coping mechanisms for interacting with dicks, which I will now gladly share with you because it's my job to write stuff. And because it really is miserable to get totally schooled by a bad resentment and I don't want you to suffer like that (because then you might not read the stuff I write). See? So selfish!

As previously noted, I am sooo lucky you don't have to actually like any of this shit for it to work.

Treat them like a sick person.

Another awesome saying that I did not come up with is this one: "Hurt people hurt people." Meaning that nobody who is really happy with themselves and their lives goes around terrorizing others constantly. Extreme assholery is usually born from pain and the more horrid a person is, the more pain they're probably in.

Treat a spiritually sick person as you would physically sick person, with sympathy. Focus on sending them some of that loving kindness we were talking about before, even if it's painful. Pray for them if you pray. I find the St. Francis prayer to be very helpful when I want to cut a bitch.It doesn't have to be a God thing -- it can be more of a quiet reflection and meditation thing.

Look at your part.

There usually is one. Sometimes it's something you did, like approaching said person with a general stankface attitude borne out of the fact that you don't like them, or not clearly stating your expectations from them and then getting angry when they're not met.

A lot of times, it's just something you feel. Why does this person's behavior bother you so very much? Is it because it makes you feel jealous or fearful? Sometimes people's behavior brings up our insecurities about ourselves -- someone treating you as if you are worthless can be more painful if some part of you feels worthless. I am very sensitive to mean comments because I have low self-esteem and tend to believe what they say, even if I intellectually know it is not true.

In another example, I have a pattern of expecting bosses to emotionally validate me like the loving daddy I never had, then feeling resentful when they don't. My part is the unrealistic workplace expectations and my epic daddy issues.

Vent to an unrelated friend.

Feelings are like tampons. If you don't get them out, they just stay inside you forever, getting all old and smelly from being edged up in a corner of your vagina for like two weeks, you nasty bitch.

You have to vent. You don't have to vent to people who are actually involved in the situation and know the person you're talking about. Not only does maliciously bitching about someone to your mutual acquaintances give the difficult person a valid reason to treat you badly, it's more fun to bitch to someone who is totally on your side and will validate your most irrational feelings. Talk about it until it stops feeling like your rage is going to burst out of your solar plexus and scale cities every time you think about the person.

Focus on yourself.

You know that feeling of emptied-out relief you get when you drink way too much and then you finally throw up? That's what letting go of trying to control other people feels like.

Unless you are a "Captain Planet"-esque superhero, there's actually very little you can control. Yet we expend massive amounts of futile energy trying to control the behavior of other people -- why won't she stop doing that/ thinking like that/acting this way/making these life choices/wearing that outfit and on and on and on.

But until the day a malfunction with my robot body turns me into an omnipotent being with comically large breasts, my jurisdiction ends at the tip of my nose.

In my experience, this seemingly simple concept is the big secret to contentment in this lifetime. You can't control other people, ya'll. You can only control your reaction to them. I just saved you thousands of dollars in therapy!

Are you so sicked out that I wrote such a self-helpy article? How do you deal assholes in your life without swan-diving through a window Helen-Hunt-on-the-drugs style?