I don’t like everyone.
I’m just not one of those people! I have tried to be one of them in the past. I give people chances, I swallow bad first impressions, pride, and unfortunate mutual connections. Sometimes, it just doesn’t click. I think we have this in common, don’t we?
However. This isn’t an excuse for just pretending like a person doesn’t exist. We may have to do business with them or be a room mom with them, or shoot, even co-parent with them! So, how do we put the daggers away and deal with a person we just don’t like?
My maternal grandmother, Ma Ma as we called her, had a solution as elegant as she – namely: very. She would sit quietly to herself and think of three things she liked about the person. If there was not anything she could honestly say that she truly liked, she would think of three things that were at least nice.
As a child, this advice of course irritated me. I’d tap out somewhere between one and two, one being something like “they have brown hair” and number two akin to “they’re not here right now…” But as I have become an adult, and I have experienced the inevitable crack and stretch of ego that pain and loss bring, I value this advice more and more, and treasure it as much as her jewelry on my fingers and ears.
When I encounter someone who I am having trouble dealing with, I take a step back. I take a moment to reflect and spend some time thinking about them, and I think of those three things. If they don’t pop to mind immediately, I pray for them, just as she did.
As a child, I was on to her trick that this would make me reflect on the antagonist and their positive qualities, and help me to see things that might make me like them.
But this wily lady concealed the deeper tactic – that it would also make me reflect on the relationship between MYSELF and the person. What was going on (both positive AND negative) in the person’s sphere to make them seem unpleasant to me, and what I could do to make my interaction with them easier. Not necessarily to make them my friend, because not everyone is meant to be friends, but to knock off the barnacles and make life easier.
Every time I have paused to consider three things about someone else, it has told me many multiples of that about myself. What qualities would be reliable enough to plant a flag upon, if first impressions of me fell short?
I think back to some of the items that I have “liked” about others in the past. ‘Speaks her mind.’ ‘Dedicated.’ ‘Good cook.’ These are all things that I admire in people, some of them so much that they become gateways into a broader understanding of them as a person. I have to admit, I notice many positive things about others that are not true about myself. Perhaps, in some cases, they should be? To use one of the examples given – I am NOT a good cook, far from it, and though it doesn’t bother me that I’m not, good cooks tend to appreciate that quality in others and therefore, may recognize it lacking in me. I get it. Not enough to make me go take cooking lessons, but I get it.
No one has ever had to worry about me being able to speak my mind.
None of us are perfect, and I’m not even trying to be. This is just a really simple, beautiful way to navigate through sticky relationships, tried and true by my dear departed Ma Ma.
If you didn’t like this post, scroll through NewOrleansMom.com and find three of my posts that you DO like.