If you want advice on dealing with “difficult” people, ask a waiter or waitress. Better still, talk to the one you’ve watched at a favorite local restaurant, offering the same friendly service to all of her tables. She radiates authentic warmth and patience every time you visit.
What’s her secret?
The first tip I harvested from Nicole was not what she said, but the way she considered the question before answering. Consulting the heart’s intelligence usually requires a pause. I often forget this.
Here are the answers I remember from our conversation.
I stay prayed up, she said.
Okay, I love that, and I do it, too. Go on…
If I feel a reaction to someone’s behavior, I look inside myself to see what needs healing.
That’s powerful. Anything else?
I take care of myself.
She talked doing things that make her feel good, peaceful and nourishing activities, and my hands raised. There it is. I’ve been neglecting that step.
Nourish yourself. As you give to others, make time to “give back” to yourself.
When people show up in my life dishing out abuse instead of kindness, their behavior might be a mirror. How am I treating me? Why do I expect others to give me the respect I have not been showing myself?
As Nicole’s words reminded me, when we feed ourselves instead of running on empty, negative behavior around us doesn’t matter as much.
“That which is hateful to you do not do to another; that is the entire Torah, and the rest is its interpretation.” Hillel the Elder said.
Love God, and “love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus taught, years later. I’m not the first to suggest these words imply equal treatment of all, including… us, ourselves. Self-love and self-kindness are not selfish acts. Loving yourself outlines the richness of your love for another, without expecting that person to fill you up. Extending compassion to our own hearts and lives is a balm against exhaustion and its favorite companion, resentment.
So, let’s fuel up.
May we seek joy. May we show love. May we find peace.