You know him. It’s THAT guy. The one who pushes your every button. While not intentionally hurting your feelings or making you mad, he just rubs you the wrong way. This doesn’t happen every once in awhile…it’s every time you see him (or her, I’m nothing if not an egalitarian). Why? Is he this way with everyone? You want to ask others, and sometimes you do, but you don’t want to gossip or look like a bad person. What is it?
I think I know. Granted, in some extremely rare cases (serial killers, psychopaths, etc.) there are those who are, for lack of a better term, evil. Not them. I’m not talking about those outside of the normal boundaries of social or even legal behavior. I’m talking about “normal” people who just rub you the wrong way.
This can be as I stated above your personal and relational nemesis. It could be someone who espouses all kinds of inappropriate material on social media and in person. This could be the person that couldn’t be more different than you religiously and politically that doesn’t seem to have any care for your beliefs. This is the relative that dominates every family function (guilty as charged), that manipulates everyone so that they always get their way, that everyone tip toes around. This is the co-worker that you celebrate when they don’t come in and when you whisper, “move along, don’t stop here, keep moving” when they approach your desk. You know…THAT guy.
He’s not that bad. Rather, should I say, he’s not evil. He’s not sick. He’s not trying to emotionally crush you (most likely). You know what he is? Hurt. He has been shaped by his hurts and, most likely, poorly dealt with them for years. The resulting character flaws vomit all over you every time you interact with him. Multiple emotional needs have not been met and have been taken away from him for years. His only retort is to manipulate his environment to try…try to get those needs met. The reality is when you steal emotional needs they don’t satisfy or quench the need. This results in more hurt.
So, are just supposed to sit back and take it? No, not necessarily. Does having new perspective solve your day to day interactions with THAT guy? No. However, it may be the beginning to surviving your experiences and run ins with them. You can begin to see them differently and try to figure out what they need. What are they seeking? Attention? Respect? Approval? There are probably multiple emotional needs that they are not getting met. You could try to be that person that cares about them enough to love them that way. I know, you’re thinking, “But then they will always come to me.” Yeah, that’s the tough part. But, would you rather be annoyed and feel guilty or know that you may be the only person that cares for this guy. It’s actually a decision you have to make and it’s not an easy one.
Lastly, as always, you need to look inward as well. Are you THAT guy? How are you a little bit like THAT guy? What hurts have you ignored? What needs do you have that aren’t being met that you aggressively try to take from others? Be honest with yourself and even dare to ask a very trusted loved one about it. Then, take a look back at your life and look at the hurts that you have left behind that may be festering. These are probably linked to the ways THAT guy bothers you.
They aren’t evil, they are hurting…and so are you. Try to love them…or at least understand them just a little bit more.