Advice columnist Carolyn Hax was asked by a reader how to handle her “button-pushing sister.” In her response, Hax in part tells the questioner not to allow others to control the access to her sensitivities. The questioner then writes back to Hax to elaborate on this strategy, stating “I don’t ‘give’ people like this access to my sensitivities, they just now exactly what they are and how to use them to hurt me Even if I put on a show like it doesn’t hurt, it still hurts.”
Hax’s response was so perfectly stated, I am restating it here, with the caption: “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”
Answer: I’ll use my experience in reading hostile mail for 16 years, and also in some volatile, now-ex friendships. Both used to upset me deeply, and now the same things barely register. Nothing about the other parties changed, the abuse still comes. What has changed is inside me: I value their (or anyone’s) opinion less; I am more accepting of, less embarrassed by, and therefore less defensive about my own shortcomings; and I learned more constructive ways to handle my hard feelings. Combine the three and I am just not as, for lack of a better work, hurtable as I used to be.
Needless to say, I couldn’t agree more. Dealing with difficult people is an INSIDE job!!!
Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 21, 2014, p. C2