We all know who they are. We want to have a comfortable conversation with them but they always make it a negative encounter.

What do we do?

How can we stay in a good place in our headspace (that space between your ears that extends from where you are now and goes all the way back to your childhood)?

In the grand collection that I call “Billisms” this one falls under “It is what it is.”

1. Accept them for who they are.
God accepts them just as they are, so must you. If you expect the porcupine to be a teddy bear it will be painful when you hug them. The best we can do for ourselves and them is to not try to change them or to hope they will change.

2. Set healthy boundaries
Sometimes we need to love others at a safe distance. That might mean phone calls instead of visits; if it is really bad it might be a birthday card instead of a call. These ideas maintain contact but guard your inner peace. I told my mom that when she got on my last nerve I was going to leave (it took 3 visit/leaving cycles to convince her I was serious). It is more important for you to have peace than it is to subject yourself to abusive behavior.

3. We can only change ourselves, their issues belong to them.
This goes along with number one, accept them as they are. When they try to suck you into their emotional vortex by getting you to fix their problems, just let them handle them. At times they will use your willingness to help as a way to entangle you.

4. Learn from your emotional storm.
Pay attention to the verbal flow of the conversation, does it follow a pattern? Do you find yourself saying something like, “This always happens…”

When you find trigger points in the dialog keep them in mind, is there shaming? ‘You always do that!” “You’re never going to change!”

What are the words that cause you to flash into anger?

All of the upsetting things are places to learn from your encounters.

5. Give yourself some credit.
r normal tendency is to beat ourselves up when we do poorly, let’s turn that around. Every time you have followed one of these steps, give yourself a mental “high-five”. It is important to celebrate ANY move forward no matter how small. We can’t change them but we can be happy with our positive changes. As time goes forward our confidence will build and we will be able to stay peaceful around the negative people. “HOW?!?”, you may wonder…

A heavenly visit:

Let’s for a moment imagine that on your way to visit the negative person you had a visit from an angel sent by Jesus.

That angel says, “You know that God loves you, right? And Jesus will visit with you before you get to their house.”

Insert your response here……….

Mine would be, “Man! What have I been doing recently? Have I even paid a little attention to being like Jesus?”

Jesus comes to you, put His arm on your shoulder and says, “You know the Father loves you, right? And I’m on your side too.” Imagine the difference in your response to the negative person after these two visits.

Would ANYTHING the negative person said to you or about you matter? I would imagine that basking in the glow of God’s love would wash away any hurt or doubt you might have. In this state of mind you would be more likely to see that negative person as a hurting person rather than a person who is out to hurt you.

For every hurt they would throw at you, you would have another prayer for them and their pain.

When God’s love fills our heart and fills in those places left unfilled by our life, we will have enough love spilling out to help fill the negative person’s needs.

What if these visits happened on your way to work?

How different would your day be?